When Should You Start Taking Supplements?
Using supplementation can help enhance sports performance. But when is the prime time to start utilizing supplements? At Garage Strength, we like to think about it this way: the longer an athlete holds off supplementing the more results they will see when they start to use supplements.
The exception would be a multivitamin, a morning essential pill that will help the body get vitamins, antioxidants, and stuff like that. For this article, we will reference supplements like protein, creatine, caffeine, endurance aids (along the lines of beta-alanine), and joint work (collagen and vitamin C to a point). We believe these are the first supplements athletes should be taking when they first start training quite a bit. A good multivitamin can be taken as early and as often as recommended by a pediatritian
A lot of athletes and a lot of parents of athletes will start to ask, “What can really help with the gainz?” We believe it is very important to try to answer a few key questions to figure out about supplements.
How Long Has The Athlete Been Training
Athletes who have just started training, especially teenagers, in all reality will blow up for six to twelve weeks. The athletes will make a lot of neurological, muscular, and cognitive adaptations. The athletes will start to understand movements, stress, discomfort, and they start to push themselves more effectively. This is key.
People may want to take a different type of protein or creatine right away and they don’t really know how to handle stress, feel tension, or feel discomfort, key factors to getting stimulation and adapting. It may be advisable for the athlete to go for one to two years of figuring out their body, mindset, and approach to training before taking supplements. In all reality, it might be six to twelve months before an athlete figures out how to really grind. When the athlete figures out how to grind, that is when it becomes more effective to utilize supplementation.
Concerning caffeine, we recommend not utilizing it until the athlete is fifteen or sixteen years old. Young kids struggle to acknowledge the difference between having caffeine or not having caffeine. Hold off on the caffeine.
Ideally, novice athletes should not need endurance aids or join work, like collagen, until they’re a little bit older. Over the ages of eighteen to twenty based on how long they have been training.
What’s The Athlete’s Nutrition Like
Say the athlete is a middle schooler. Most middle school kids eat very, very poorly. The first thing athletes need to do is cleaning up their nutrition. We have noticed that a lot of kids, after training for six months to a year, get interested in other physical components of physical fitness. They start to realize that when they eat specific foods they are not as sore. They realize that when they are hydrated going into training they lift better. This is another key factor.
A lot of newbies, novice lifters, start to take an interest in their nutrition. With this focus over the course of a year, while training with resistance, it might now make sense to start using various supplements. Regardless, really focus on nutrition. Protein shakes instead of milkshakes from fast food.
Do You Play Contact Sports?
If the athlete is playing a contact sport--wrestling, football, LAX, etc.--we recommend the use of creatine no matter what. Creatine can help absorb a hit. How? By being able to react quickly when being hit by an opponent the athlete can do a better job of protecting their brain. Creatine will also have the body retaining a little bit more water, which can also help protect the brain from a concussion. On top of that, there is a lot of science that supports Creatine being able to help with learning skills and recovering from concussions.
Most sports require a lot of skill. Those skills need to be learned. Being better at those skills creates a better competitor who will theoretically be safer. Athletes should be using creatine.
Creatine is an amino acid that is one of the safest supplements that can be taken on the planet!
Have a little bit of ADHD? Creatine helps. Migraines? Creatine helps. Memory issues? L-theanine helps.
Also, be diligent in understanding where the supplements are being sourced from. The cleaner the supplements are and the safer they are, the more effective they will be. Athletes have to make sure they are sourcing their supplements from a reputable company. Don’t go out and just start buying supplements from random different places where no one is testing them, checking if they are effective, or the supplements are not clean and can jeopardize the ability to participate. We recommend Earth Fed Muscle.
It always comes back to how long the athlete has been training and what the athlete’s nutrition is like. Start there. Next, consider if the sport being trained for is a contact sport and, thinking outside the box, are there any cognitive issues that need to be worked through. Finally, make sure to source the best possible supplements. Earth Fed Muscle <--- Use the link for 10% off!
Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.