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Supplements: What, Why, and Do I Need Them?

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

Please note that we are not registered dieticians. None of the following information is meant to be medical advice. If you have a medical condition, please seek a medical professional.

The world of supplementation is filled with so many promises and so much confusion. Marketing is the name of the game and everyone is looking for a quick way to lose weight, a special supplement to make them stronger, or a magic pill to increase performance. Unfortunately those promises are often empty.

Does that mean you should not consider adding supplements to your regimen? Do supplements not do anything at all? Not necessarily. Supplements can be an extremely beneficial part of any athlete or person's dietary regimen! While we won’t be recommending specific supplements, because we believe that is specific to each person, follow along for some considerations on how to decide what type of supplementation may be best for you!

Can Supplements make me a better athlete?

We all understand that diet and nutrition play a big role in athletic performance. Athletes put their bodies through very strenuous activity, day after day, month after month, and season after season. With that being the case, athletes also need to fuel their bodies in a way to facilitate recovery, maintain appropriate body composition for their sport, and help promote the correct adaptations from training whether it’s increased muscle mass, endurance, power output etc.

Supplements can play an important role in making sure athletes are getting adequate nutrition to supplement the goals listed above. Whether it’s enough protein, electrolytes, creatine, or vitamins and minerals, all of them could play a role in increasing athletic performance.

It should be supplemental to a good diet, not replacing one!

Supplementation should not be the first avenue we explore when trying to gain an edge in performance or look to improve wellness and longevity. We should start with our diet! Our bodies are extremely complex organisms, with a lot of moving parts that we are still working to understand. Something that is very clear however, is that a bulk of our nutrients should be coming from a proper diet consisting of whole foods.

A proper diet can mean a lot of different things, but it starts with consistent nutrition that is appropriately planned around training. This obviously includes eating the right foods and the correct amount of food, but it also includes not skipping meals, being thoughtful about when training is, what type of training is happening and what the best type of fueling will promote the best athletic outcomes.

Working with a registered dietitian or professional with experience working with athletes is a great start. Based on eating habits and type of activity they can help ensure that through a diet and supplementation you and your athletes are getting the proper fueling for their goals.

If I’m eating a proper diet, do I need supplements?

If eating a proper diet, there are still cases where supplements could be helpful! Some athletes require additional help to truly get the most out of their training. The best way to figure out what nutrients you may be deficient in, and therefore need to add additional supplementation is bloodwork. Whether through your medical provider or a private blood analysis company, regularly getting blood work can let you know if 1) there are nutrients you are still deficient in even with a proper diet and 2) if your supplements are actually working.

Even if you can’t get bloodwork, there are simple ways to determine if you need additional supplementation. If you are in a sport that requires long duration outputs, cross country, cycling, mountain biking etc. electrolyte and/or carbohydrate supplementation could be beneficial. If you compete in a power sport or a sport in which body weight comes into play, protein or creatine supplementation could be something to consider. If you work a desk job or compete in a sport where you are inside for a majority of the time, Vitamin D could be something to look into.

Where should I get my supplements?

There are plenty of highly reputable supplement companies out there, so in general you should look for a few things when choosing supplements. Look for a company that is backed in clinical research. Look for nutrition labels that are not filled with a bunch of additives outside of the nutrients you actually want. Lastly, avoid marketing promises of quick weight gain/loss, or too good to be true physical adaptations. As always, seeking out the help of a professional will always be the best way to make sure you’re putting the correct things into your body to promote athletic success.

Luckily enough, we at Virtus Performance Club have partnered with Thorne Health, one of the most recognized and trusted brands in the supplement industry. In collaboration with Thorne, we’ve curated a specific group of supplements that we think will help increase performance and recovery, help supplement diets, and promote health and longevity. Check out our store, and get 20% of all supplements purchased through our store!

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