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  • Writer's pictureTristan

The pros and cons of supplements


More and more supplements as well as so-called health and performance boosters appear every year on the sport, health, and wellness market, whose ingredients and effects could frighten many people. For many decades, for keeping fairness in sports as well as preserving athletes’ health, many substances have been banned. These prohibitions are regulated by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and are updated every year. Therefore, athletes are advised in most cases to use mainly “traditional” food and limit the use of supplements to avoid a positive doping test.

Unlike many beliefs, a lot of natural food items have beneficial effects on health and sports performance due to their composition, and in some ways can be more efficient than supplements. However, some of the food items should be consumed in insanely big amounts to receive beneficial effects, which would be disadvantageous for athletes in terms of calorie intake.

Many supplements are now harmless to athletes a lot of research is undertaken to constantly increase their health, wellness, and sports performance, whilst complying with the latest WADA rules. For example, some supplements help counter a deficiency, which is important as athletes are known to suffer from more deficiency due to their intense training. As a result, some athletes may benefit from this supplementation to limit the risks of infection and certain nutrient deficiencies.

However, everyone should keep in mind that supplements are not magical pills that allow people to eat anything they want and achieve all their goals. Supplements need to be added as part of a well-planned and healthy diet. They should be used when athletes cannot ingest enough “traditional” food (e.g. during a race, it is better to ingest an energy gel rather than to eat pasta), when athletes cannot eat certain foods that are needed due to an allergy, intolerance or a specific diet, when a deficiency is detected (iron, vitamin D, vitamin C…), when food hygiene is low in certain countries, or when the supplement can give important benefits to the performance without any risks for health or doping test (caffeine, nitrate…).

To conclude, we should not ban all supplements nor have a diet only comprising supplements. We should instead evaluate the needs and consider all the risks, advantages, and alternatives before ingesting any. This will allow a healthier relationship with food as well as a better understanding of feeding practices.


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