I rarely start an article with the conclusion at the beginning. But, for this specific topic I couldn't write it any other way. So, here it is.
No magic pill, patented drink mix, sublingual tincture, trans-dermal patch, man made food bar, proprietary mineral blend, or secret capsule is capable of producing the results, or anything remotely close, that can be achieved through the proper strength and conditioning program combined with a smart, a realistic nutrition program and adequate rest.
As the father of an eight year old baseball, soccer and football player, I am often asked by other parents, "What products would you recommend for my son/daughter to help improve their sports performance?" The paragraph above is my answer, always.
It is no wonder why so many people believe that enhanced sports performance can come from a bottle at your local nutrition store. The advertising freedom that nutritional supplement marketers are given is an absolute joke. The flexibility they have allows them to prey on peoples weaknesses and exploit the fact that most people want to believe what they see and hear through advertisements.
The problem lies within the fact that even when following "the rules" nutritional supplement marketers can still cleverly craft unbelievably deceptive advertising campaigns and get away with it
Some supplement companies have attorneys on staff that specialize in making sure that the company they represent is not breaking any laws in its advertising campaigns. Some companies who cannot afford full time attorneys hire them as outside consultants to perform the same function. Their main job is to compare the proposed advertising campaign, whether it is a radio ad, a television ad, internet ad or print ad and make sure it complies with all rules and regulations put forth by the Federal Trade Commission and/or the Federal Communications Commission. Keep in mind these hired pros work for the company who pays them and not for you, the consumer.
Ponder this, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act does not require manufacturers to report adverse reactions or side effects. Additionally, the sale of any supplement can only be prevented if the Food and Drug Administration can prove that the supplement is harmful. Amazing, isn't it?
Despite the fact that supplement companies are restricted from making unproven or exaggerated claims, many are still able to get away with extremely deceptive advertising campaigns. Some companies are even so greedy that they completely disregard any of the industry rules and use outright lies in their marketing campaigns knowing that the regulatory agencies are overloaded and cannot catch every unscrupulous company. Even when caught, some of these companies have to pay a fine which usually only amounts to a small percentage of the profits it has taken in from its fraudulent marketing techniques. They are then ordered to clean up their marketing campaigns so they are in compliance with industry rules and are then allowed to continue selling their products.
So, what are a young athlete and/or parent to do, knowing that all of the outrageous claims by supplement companies are either false or grossly exaggerated?
Well, the answer is quite simple. Focus on what is proven, safe, realistic, and effective. Improving athletic performance boils down to three components:
1) A sound nutrition program constructed from whole, nutrient dense, readily available, preferably organic foods. For your specific needs it is best to consult with a sports conditioning specialist or a sports nutrition consultant.
2) A carefully designed and administered athletic strength & conditioning program. Several key factors will determine what the ideal training regimen for you should be. Again, it is best to consult with a sports conditioning specialist to determine your needs.
3) Adequate rest. Your body can only get stronger, faster, and better if you give it the proper amount of rest. During rest time your body releases hormones and chemicals to help you rebuild and recharge. Some of these substances interact with certain components of the healthy foods you eat to achieve this.
For the record, I am not adverse to all nutritional supplements. There are some fantastic multi-vitamin & mineral products, nutritional shakes, nutrition bars and a few other basic products on the market which can be helpful as supplements to a well rounded, whole food, nutrition program.
One website that can help you make better informed decisions about some of these helpful supplements is ConsumerLab.com.
Remember the old adage, "If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.", when you see or hear these crazy advertisements because in reality, all you are seeing is a modern day snake oil presentation.
By Joey Atlas
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