Sport supplements: are they necessary?

Sport supplements can be useful to complement a good diet. However, the choice of a quality product is of fundamental importance to avoid running into health problems.

Those who practice physical activity, amateurs included, are usually very attentive to nutrition but even more to nutritional supplementation with the aim of improving their performance. For this reason, a large space is occupied by sport supplements on the food supplement shelf.

For an athlete, supplementation to complement a balanced diet may be necessary to face any deficiencies caused by periods of intense training, preparation for competitions or during the competition itself, so as not to compromise sports performance and avoid incurring injuries or chronic fatigue.

The situation is different for those who practice sports as amateurs. A varied and personalized diet often manages to satisfy most of the needs of this category of athletes and the use of natural supplements can be very useful as an additional complement in cases of deficiencies, as an energizer or for better recovery. Unfortunately, sports supplements are often accompanied by advertisements that can easily deceive, linking the use of the product to an evident improvement in performance.

Supplements should be tailored to the individual’s needs (gender, age, fitness, intensity, duration of exercise, season, etc.) in order to maintain health and improve performance. The supplements chosen must offer maximum safety and scientific evidence to support their effect. A recent study appeared in the scientific journal “International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism” estimated that between 40 and 70% of athletes use supplements without first investigating if necessary. In addition, a large number of sport supplements have not shown empirical evidence of performance improvement. Likewise, 80% of these products do not contain the quantities declared on the label. Furthermore, 10-15% of them contain prohibited substances and this can generate not only a high risk of involuntarily incurring doping during the checks provided for in the races but above all it can damage health.

The basis of sports nutrition is a varied and tailored diet to meet the requirements and palatability of each athlete. The latter should be educated on the importance of nutrition, called “invisible training”. The use of natural and high-quality supplements is therefore desirable, but their choice must be, as for any other supplement, prudent and well informed.

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