Is it ok to use sports supplements?

One nutrition issue that athletes are often faced with is the question: should athletes take sports supplements or not?


As a nutrition coach and with the span of years that I am involved with athletes, I saw that the use of supplements by athletes vary depending on, number 1 if they will be able to follow my nutrition program, and number 2 is how they will be able to achieve their nutritional requirements. So the first issue is the means to implement, and second is to actually consume the amount of calories or the amount of nutrition that I want them to have.

For me as a nutrition coach, I saw the importance of the use of supplements and sports foods. So instead of absolutely promoting the food first approach, I’d rather promote a nutrition first approach when it comes to handling athletes. It’s important for me to give exactly what the body needs rather than force the traditional approach.

And at times, it’s impossible to meet every single need thru the consumption of whole foods alone. Because I understand where there are cases where in the use of supplements and sports foods are being questioned. But for me as a nutrition coach, I saw the importance of the use of supplements and sports foods. So instead of absolutely promoting the food first approach, I’d rather promote a nutrition first approach when it comes to handling athletes. It’s important for me to give exactly what the body needs rather than force the traditional approach. So I’d rather recommend something that is doable and practical for athletes and at the same time optimum for their sports requirements. So whether to use or not to use sports supplements and sports foods, it will depend on a lot of things. Number 1 of course is the amount of calories needed by the athlete. We all know how intense the training session an athlete undergoes and this often results to loss of appetite. So in cases like these, especially for back to back training sessions, instead of leaving the athlete undernourished because of loss of appetite, I’d rather give a portion of meals as whole foods, and a portion as supplements just to meet the nutritional requirements. If the athlete can eat adequately, then let’s give whole foods especially if they have sufficient time to recover and they don’t have back to back training sessions. Now for example, if the athlete experiences loss of appetite, has back to back training sessions, has limited recovery time then that’s the time that we should consider providing supplementation.


When it comes to supplements that are used to enhance sports performance or what we call ergogenic aids, yes I do give or recommend sports nutrition supplements or ergogenic aids. But is limited to what is allowed by the (World) Anti Doping Agency or by the WADA. As much as possible, I stick to the basics. If it’s whey protein, it’s just whey protein. Nothing more.

There are some nutritionists-dietitians who might not agree with me when it comes to the area of supplementation. But the thing is, coming from a perspective of a former athlete, I know that there are times where training sessions are so grueling and intense that appetite is seriously affected.

I also teach the athletes that I’m handling how to reconstitute the supplements, such that its use will be optimized for their particular sport and their particular goals. Even if 3 athletes belong to one sport, each athlete still has specific goals thus the need to optimize the supplements they will use.


There are some nutritionists-dietitians who might not agree with me when it comes to the area of supplementation. But the thing is, coming from a perspective of a former athlete, I know that there are times where training sessions are so grueling and intense that appetite is seriously affected. So instead of eating, what athletes will do after a very intense training is to simply just rest rather than eat. So for me, as a nutrition coach, I don’t want to waste time because food intake is delayed. Now, the timing of food intake will really not matter if the athletes have sufficient time to recover meaning they have 24 hours to recover before the next training session. But, as we all know, sub-elite and elite level athletes usually undergoes 2 to 3 times a day of training. So in cases like these, it is important that they consume their nutrition right after training. Because right after training, we can’t guarantee that they will be able to consume all their food just to meet the actual calorie needs of the athlete. So it's very crucial to ensure that nutrition is there hence the need to prescribe supplements.



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