Disputed supplement use raises questions regarding proper nutrition

Yustyn Kokor, Sports Editor

Student athletes are working hard to become faster, stronger, and perform better overall in their specific sport, but students also implement measures in their nutrition to ensure their optimal performance. According to a 2017 Business Insider article, many people are compelled to take supplements like creatine, pre workout, or whey protein and in some cases illegal supplements like steroids for improving their performance for their sports or to feel and look better in everyday life.

“I take protein powder to rebuild my muscles after a hard workout,” sophomore Scott Murray said. ”I feel like it has a lot of nutritional benefits, it helps me perform.”

It goes without saying that sleep, nutrition and exercise are all major contributing factors to one’s health and supplementation itself is not going to compensate for the lack of exercise and sleep. 

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is vital to your wellbeing, and is as important as the air you breathe, the water you drink and the food you eat. Most teens do not get enough sleep. One study found that only 15% of students surveyed reported sleeping eight and a half hours on school nights.

“I think most of nutritional requirements can be taken care of and not needed if you eat properly, and most kids don’t follow proper nutrition guidelines excetera for athletes,” social studies teacher Michael DiMatteo said. “Every university in the country has a series of nutritional guidelines, but most kids don’t follow them,” 

Supplements often provide a convenient way of getting in your recommended macronutrients (protein, carbs and fats). But besides the positive aspects of supplements, there are health risks to supplements if used improperly. 

“I’ve taken protein powder and pre-workout and protein bars,” junior Kenny Soto said. “I would recommend them but at the same time I wouldn’t because if you add it all up it costs a lot, like 500 dollars a month. Most people take supplements after every workout but don’t put in the work to see the results.”

Many people go into buying supplements without actually taking the time to do research. According to the National Center for Complementary Health Approaches Total out-of-pocket spending for supplements is $30.2 billion―$28.3 billion a year for adults and $1.9 billion for children―representing 9.2% of all out-of-pocket spending by Americans on health care and 1.1% of total health care spending

“Nutrition supplements illegal or harmful, but why spend money when you can eat properly?” DiMatteo said. “I wouldn’t consider taking supplements besides protein powder because I don’t know the restrictions behind anything else.”

Taking time to do your own research is key to making informed decisions. In the case a teen does decide to start taking supplements he or she should be aware of your needs and the potential risks associated, like kidney failure, loss of appetite, extreme weight gain or weight loss, digestive problems. 

“Know what you’re doing, research what your doing and understand what you’re doing.” DiMatteo said. “Follow proper nutrition guidelines, you won’t need any supplementation in your diet.”