Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Case to Choose Natural Food Over Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements make up for a lack of nutrition, right? Wrong! Many health goals are met by eating whole, natural food, not by consuming dietary supplements. Athletes report many reasons for consuming dietary supplements. A popular one: “it’s hard to eat healthy; I don’t have time to cook, because my sport takes up a lot of my time.”  However, a deeper look into the food habits of athletes reflects missed meals or snacks, high fat and/or low carbohydrate intake, inadequate total calorie intake, the use of recovery shakes as meal replacements, or an emphasis on supplement intake before food.

The athlete may say:
  • I'm tired all day.
  • I can't maintain my weight.
  • Eating healthy is expensive.
  • I think I need more protein.
  • I'm so hungry at night.
  • I tend to eat more sweets after dinner.

A proper nutrition plan and healthy food choices can address many of the concerns commonly brought forward by athletes.

Research supports that adequate food for performance can:
  • Increase energy.
  • Improve performance.
  • Increase speed, stamina, & endurance.
  • Improve mental focus.
  • Decrease recovery time.
  • Improve mood & sleep.
  • Reduce the risk of injury, cramping, & muscle pulls.
  • Increase muscle mass.
  • Decrease fat mass.
The comparisons below illustrate how whole food combinations actually provide more nutrition than dietary supplements.

Clearly, food is a better bang for your buck! The risk of contamination/adulteration in dietary supplements is eliminated, and you receive more nutritive value from food than dietary supplements. Working with a sports dietitian is highly recommended to help individualize your unique food fueling strategies to reach performance goals. Drug Free Sport AXIS™ also provides a growing "Athlete Recipe Box" with athlete-friendly recipes that require little time, taste great, and are easy to prepare.  

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