Nutrition for Youth Athletes: Supplements

As a gym owner and performance specialist, results have always been the driver behind how I develop my athletes.  I don’t complicate things.  My primary demographic are athletes ages 12-15, which means I don’t need to get fancy or complicated.  Athletes at this age benefit tremendously from a well rounded periodized plan that trains all aspects of athleticism no matter the sport.  Specificity is less important as setting a good foundation.  With that being said, this is also a great age to start learning how athletes need to fuel their bodies in order to maximize results.  Outside of learning about carbs, proteins, and fats, I get a lot of inquiries regarding supplements.  Here I’m going to cover what I recommend to my athletes in order to add lean muscle for improved performance.

When I talk to parents about supplements, the extent to which they understand what their young athlete should be taking ends with the person standing behind the counter at their local supplement store.  Now before I go any further, I have to say that I have no beef with supplement stores, the owners, or the people behind their counters.   But as I stated earlier, as a strength and conditioning coach my motivation is purely performance based, whereas supplement stores are motivated to move products.  This changes the context in which nutrition advice is given.  For me, it doesn’t really make sense to recommend products that I feel are unnecessary, not in alignment with our performance goals, or not certified for sport.  When it comes to proper nutrition for athletes the devil’s in the details.  I find most families leave nutrition stores not as informed as they need to be.  When you’re motivated by performance goals it’s crucial to be as detailed as possible.

Speaking of being specific, too many athletes purchase products that they either don’t need, don’t know how to use, or aren’t proven to enhance performance as claimed.   For example, popular supplements that are proven by research to meet marketing claims are the following: protein supplements, creatine, carbohydrates & carbohydrate-electrolyte solutions.  There are a few more, but these listed are the most popular.  On the opposite end, here are popular products that only possibly meet marketing claims: Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’s), Glucosamine, Beta-alanine, and Vitamin C.  Not to say that these products don’t work, just that in the competitive world of high performing athletes maybe just don’t cut it.

I’m all about sticking to what I know works, and hits parents pockets within reason.  I advise all my athletes to take high quality protein, carbohydrates, and creatine.  Carbohydrates play a crucial role in giving your body the energy it needs to push hard during workouts, while protein repairs muscle fibers making them stronger after the stress of strength training.  Creatine is a very effective supplement that works by increasing energy stores in the muscle which allows athletes to do more work in the weightroom.

How athletes consume these supplements requires the combining of protein and carbohydrates, and a process called nutrient timing.  Consuming carbs and protein 1.5-2 hours before strength training, carbs and protein immediately after, and more carbs and protein up to 4 hours after that.  This method is highly effective as it gives your body exactly what it needs at the right time, and keeps your body in an anabolic (muscle building) state.  For cost effectiveness I recommend my athletes micro dose creatine at 5g per day for 5-6 weeks.  They will also cycle off for 5-6 weeks.  This method will allow muscles to build creatine stores for energy, even during the weeks they cycle off.  

At my gym the Boost Performance Center we focus on the small details and take an educational approach to development that can empower athletes throughout their careers.  Supplements are an effective tool in enhancing performance when used correctly, and with the right quality.  To learn more about our nutrition programs and supplement recommendations contact us on our website at www.Boosttrainingsystems.com and come stop by the Boost Performance Center.

Coach Bass

Owner, Boost Training Systems

Level 1 & 2 Coach Bommarito Performance

CSCS, USAW