Hockey: supplements

In the hockey world, supplement consumption is now part of the norm and represents a global industry of $ 4.2 billion. In Quebec, it is estimated that 90% of athletes use dietary supplements: energy drinks, multivitamins-minerals, natural health products and protein powder supplements. The main reasons why athletes consume these products are to:

  • Maintain their health;
  • Improve their energy level;
  • Improve their recovery.

Although the majority of athletes (55 to 70%) have questions about the efficiency, legality and safety of products, few people consult a healthcare professional before consuming them.

Efficiency of supplements

Several studies on the subject are being conducted to determine if they actually work and to what extent. In order to be among these studies, the AIS (Australian Sports Commission) has established a classification. This system classifies supplements into four categories based on scientific evidence and other practical considerations, in order to determine whether the product is safe, legal and whether it is effective in increasing performance. This system is supported by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). However, refer to the philosophy of your sports federation to help you decide whether or not to take supplements.

Security of supplements

It is important to know that a supplement, even if it is legal and considered relevant for consumption according to a sport, can be contaminated by other products which, in turn, are illegal or unnecessary. In fact, legally, only labels need to be approved by health agencies. The content and purity of a product are therefore not verified and the consumer has no guarantee that it actually contains what is written, nor that it provides the advertised effect. According to several studies, between 10 and 20% of products on the market are contaminated. For athletes at risk of getting tested, it is therefore of the utmost importance to choose supplements certified by an independent body, for example: NSF certified for sport or Informed-choice Trusted by sport.

Legality of supplements

The supplements contained in categories A, B and C of the AIS classification are considered legal, provided they are not contaminated. If in doubt, it is possible to verify that a product or medicine is legal on this site.

And the young athletes

For adolescents, it is not recommended to consume supplements since we do not know the long-term consequences of these on development. However, an athlete may need or benefit from it (deficiency, intolerance, allergy or other condition). It is simply recommended that you consult a healthcare practitioner before embarking on the consumption of these supplements, since the supplements are not intended to interact with the medications or the child’s condition.

The decisional balance

Still unsure whether to continue / start taking supplements? Here are some elements that can guide you:

The Benefits

  • Help to achieve the necessary nutritional intake (indirect improvement in performance)
  • Direct performance improvement (see next blog post)
  • Placebo effect (confidence boost)

The “Cons”:

  • High cost
  • Possible side effects
  • Possible contamination (negative physical effects, paying for a product that does not give the expected effects, absorption of illegal products in certain sports, etc.)
  • Diverts attention from actions that have a greater effect on performance (training, diet, sleep, etc.)

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Is it safe?
  • Is it legal?
  • Is it effective in my situation?
  • Have I optimized all the other factors that influence my performance (training, diet, sleep)?

Before you start taking supplements, talk to a health professional qualified in this field (ex: sports doctor or sports nutritionist).

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