No matter what the sport, athletes are always after the same thing: winning. To win, you typically have to be the better athlete and a better athlete is one who is faster, stronger, more prepared, and better trained. The next question is how does one achieve all those aforementioned goals?
First of all, it takes dedication on and off the field. There is no way to prepare for a particular sport without practice and there is also no way to be successful without hard practice.
Therefore, one must eat right to fuel the body, get sufficient rest for recovery, and put in some extra time in the weight room to get stronger. If all of those are in order, some may consider dietary supplements.
However, this should not go without a bit of background research; I have talked with too many people who are taking dozens of supplements and can't tell me what any of them are. Or, if they can tell me what they are, they have no idea why they are taking it or how much they are taking.
If you are going to take a dietary supplement, do some research, understand what it is supposed to do, and figure out the recommended dose. Next, never introduce more than one supplement at a time. I say this because then you won't know if one is working.
Here is a great example I encountered. I walked with a collegiate football player who decided to use glutamine. He told me he also started taking creatine, protein, a recovery drink, a prohormone, BCAA's, and a meal replacement.
At the same time, he made some dietary changes and went into a strength phase of his weight room workouts.
Two weeks later, when I found out all he was taking, he told me they worked great because he noticed tremendous changes in and out of the weight room.
The question I asked him was "well what caused those changes?" He quickly responded, "the creatine works great and so do the other supplements." The only problem is that there is no way he could know if any of the supplements worked for him. How does he know it wasn't that he started eating more calories, or because he was training differently?
If you want to start taking creatine, for example, don't change anything else about your diet, workout regimen, or supplement protocol; solely add creatine to your daily routine and assess the changes.
This will allow you to decipher where any positive changes are coming from. With that said, here are the top 8 supplements that may be considered (everyone else does the top 10, so I thought 8 would be for a change of pace).
2. Meal Replacement Powder
3. Meal Replacement Bar
Similar to MRP's, these are good for convenience. These are great for your locker or car, so there is always something available to eat.
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There is surely plenty of research to support the efficacy of this supplement. Remember that more is not better, so do not exceed the recommendations on the bottle.
In fact, recent research demonstrates that it may only take 3 grams/day to saturate muscles (less than the 5 grams typically recommended).
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5. Fish Oil
6. Flax Oil
No, this really isn't a supplement, but it's the most important component of any nutritional regimen so I had to mention it again. DO NOT consider a dietary supplement until your nutrition plan is in order.
Once you are eating the whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats, then it may be time to consider supplements; until then, you won't be able to be ultimately successful in your endeavors.
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Keep in mind, also, when taking a dietary supplement, choose your company wisely. As many of you may be aware, several supplements are banned by professional sports organizations (NFL, NCAA, MLB, etc). There are many sound companies that make quality products.
In fact, EAS was recently granted the first NSF certification for NFL players that ensures there will be no cross-contamination in supplements, reducing the likelihood that athletes will not unknowingly take banned substances. Several companies are working to achieve this NSF certification as well; hopefully many will follow EAS' lead.
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