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).
While this is a little "boring" it should be the cornerstone of any supplement regimen. For those who are eating a sound, balanced diet, it will merely act as an "insurance." It is not necessary to have massive doses of any vitamin or mineral; your basic multi is fine.
2. Meal Replacement Powder
These are great for convenience alone; however, you should not live off of them. I've talked to some who were taking up to 4 a day. Remember, meal replacement powders cannot provide the same benefit as whole foods, so should not replace all of them. When making a MRP, add some frozen fruit as a way to get more fruit in the diet.
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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I would much rathers have you eat one of these (or a MRP) than stop at the most convenient fast food restaurant everyday.
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).
5. Fish Oil
There is sufficient research to support the use of fish oil for cardiovascular health. However, there is also research to support the use of fish oil for reducing inflammation; this may be important when you are recovering from grueling workouts and healing your ailments. Try 1-2 grams/day if there are no contraindications.
6. Flax Oil
Similar to fish oil, this is a healthy fat that should be an important component of the diet. The majority of American's eat too many unhealthy, saturated fats; flax oil will help put you more "into fatty acid balance." Try 1 TBS/day.
There isn't research to support the use of glucosamine/chondroitin to prevent the deterioration of
joints, but it is logical that this may be useful considering the mounding research that glucosamine/chondroitin helps slow the progression of osteoarthritis. Recommended dose is 1500 mg glucosamine/1200mg chondroitin/day.
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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.
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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