There are many dietary or sports supplements which are marketed as helping to improve performance, recovery, weight loss or muscle development.
- protein shakes
- energy drinks
- herbal remedies
- meal replacements
- products which claim to assist weight loss or provide energy during workouts
- or products which claim to assist muscle development etc.
You may be tempted to take such products, but Drug Free Sport NZ advises you to treat supplements with caution. Taking supplements can be risky.
- supplements could contain substances which are banned in sport
- supplements may not have adequate quality control or accurately label ingredients so you cannot be sure of exactly what’s in them.
- supplements frequently do not provide the benefits they claim.
You should be extremely wary about products which say they can help with weight loss, building muscle or providing energy because these are more likely to contain banned substances.
A 2014 UK study of 24 supplements (chosen because they appeared to be anabolic agents due to the name of the product, the ingredients listed, or the nature of their advertising) found that 23 of them contained anbolic steriods.
Another study funded by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2001 of nutritional supplements found that of the 600-plus supplements tested, 15 per cent contained steroids or related compounds which were not listed on the label.
Most recently in 2016, an Australian survey found that out of 69 pre-workout supplements randomly tested off the shelf, 19 per cent contained substances prohibited in sport.
A significant number of Drug Free Sport NZ’s positive tests in recent years have been as a result of prohibited substances found in supplements. Don’t let this happen to you!
If you want help to improve your sporting performance, we recommend you consult a qualified nutritionist first. High Performance Sport NZ has a range of nutrition services available for elite athletes to access.
The following resources contain some helpful tips and advice on diet for those who are training and competing in top level sport:
- the Olympic Committee’s Medical Commission’s Nutrition for Athletes
- the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s Nutrition Guide
- NZ’s Millennium Institute of Sport and Health and Nestlé have put together a collection of nutrition advice sheets for specific sports.
If you do decide to take supplements, you do so at your own risk. Drug Free Sport cannot guarantee the safety of any supplement, but we can provide some assessment of the level risk associated with that supplement and may be able to identify products which are known to be a problem. You can check some of the more common products available in New Zealand here.