As your athlete gets older and more competitive in sport, you may be wondering if adding protein powder into their daily routine is a good idea. But before you go out and buy the biggest tub of protein that you can find in the grocery store, there are a few things you should know about supplementing with protein powders, especially for young athletes.
The problem with protein powders
Unfortunately, protein powders, like all supplements, are regulated post-market by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That means despite the list of ingredients on the back of the tub or bag, you can’t guarantee that you know what’s in them. In fact, over the years, many professional athletes have tested positive for banned substances like anabolic steroids that were eventually traced back to an off-the-shelf supplement that was tainted with the steroids. Even choosing a supplement that has been third-party tested and is certified safe for sport, can’t fully guarantee that it doesn’t contain a substance that might have negative health effects. So first and foremost, understand the risk that comes with taking any supplement.
It creates a supplement-first mentality
The more a young athlete relies on supplements now, the more they think it’s okay to do so later. It might not seem like much, but it’s a slippery slope. It might start with opting for a protein powder over a filet of salmon and some steamed veggies for dinner, but can quickly progress to a point where an athlete is eating bars, gels, and powders for most meals, and adding pills and capsules throughout the day, instead of simply eating a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet. Supplements generally should only be used on the recommendation of a doctor or registered dietitian in response to a diagnosed deficiency…a coach or friend shouldn’t be the one to recommend any supplementation.