8 Supplement ‘Must Knows’ For Elite Athletes

Our clientele here at Discount Supplements range from beginner and experienced recreational users, right up to sporting professionals and elite athletes. Therefore if used correctly, supplements are relevant to absolutely everybody, the only stipulation is that professional and elite athletes stay abreast of current legalities and rules when it comes to sport supplementation…but where do you start!?

To all those elite athletes out there, here is a non-exhaustive list to get you started (NOTE- This list is a guide only):

1.)  Trusted Buyer: Only buy supplements from reputable sellers that buy their products in bulk. Although bulk buying doesn’t necessarily guarantee supplements validity, it does reduce the risk of purchasing fake or contaminated products. Companies that ‘spot buy’ supplements are at a much greater risk of inadvertently sourcing fake products.

2.)  Validity of supplement: You can check the validity and eligibility of your supplement by ascertaining whether it is checked by HFL, a specialist division of the Informed Choice Company, the NSF Company or Global Drug Reference Online. These independent companies individually batch test products and can vouch for their purity and thus validity.

3.)  Supplements suited to you: If or when you reach ‘elite’ status in your chosen sport it’s well worth remembering that some supplements are more effective in advanced athletes at the peak of performance, whilst others are thought to deliver minimal ergogenic gains unless you are new to exercise and therefore relatively untrained. Examples include HMB, a supplement seen to increase strength and potentially helping the acquisition of lean muscle mass in relatively untrained people. Beta-alanine on the other hand is predominantly recommended for elite athletes i.e. an athlete that has already nearly maximised their potential and training capacity.

4.)  Prohibited substances: If you are subject to random drug tests then consider that many previous studies have found around 15% of supplements (out of approx 600+ tested supplements) contained WADA prohibited substances. NOTE – This does NOT mean that the prohibited ingredients are detrimental to health, but rather they may exert an unfair advantage during competition and are consequently banned…so exercise caution.

5.)  Pilot test your supplements: Before commencing any supplement it is prudent for an elite athlete to test it out during a less critical period of their competitive season in case there are any adverse effects, or indeed if there is something more appropriate for them.

6.)  Supplement timing: Keep a diary of your supplementation, this is important for supplement timings, cycling, loading and rest periods. Documenting how you feel on and off the supplement can help you to ascertain the efficacy of each supplement, so whether it had a positive, negative or neutral effect on performance.

7.)  Don't use all supplements habitually: If a supplement proves to be efficacious it may pay an elite athlete to save the supplement until pre and intra competition for maximal effects. Protein, multi-vitamins and the likes of are the staples of any supplement regime, but ‘training low’ on carbs for example in the weeks before competition may optimise the benefit drawn from carb based supplements during competition, creatine, and blood pH buffers such as beta-alanine, carnosine and sodium bicarbonate.

8.)  Stay up to date: Supplement companies change the key ingredients of their supplements from time to time, so it is vital that you keep a check on the ingredients list, and if you’re concerned contact the manufacturers asking them to confirm the batch tests and WADA compliance.


HFL Sport Science, (2013). HFL Sport Science Quotient Bioresearch. Retrieved 15th August, 2013, from http://www.informed-sport.com/sites/default/files/pdf/About-HFL.pdf

LGC Limited, (2013). Setting Standards in Analytical Science. HFL Sport Science. Retrieved 15th August, 2013, from http://www.lgcgroup.com/lgc-health-sciences/services/sport/hfl-sport-science/

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), (2013). World Anti-Doping Code. Retrieved 15th August, 2013, from http://www.wada-ama.org/en/World-Anti-Doping-Program/Sports-and-Anti-Doping-Organizations/The-Code/

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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