Sports, performance—and supplements

Are you considering taking a supplement to improve your sports performances or your physical appearance? Read the following text to make an informed decision.

The popularity of supplements

It is widely recognized that physical activity has countless benefits on health and well-being. Sports enthusiasts have many motivations for practising sports:

  • maintain overall health
  • prevent chronic diseases
  • lose weight
  • improve body shape
  • exceed performance goals
  • etc.

Individuals sometimes use supplementation when they feel or fear they have reached their physical limits. In a society where the quest for excellence and immediate satisfaction are prevalent, supplements designed for sports enthusiasts are popular. Many of the products available on the market are considered to be safe. However, it is important to exercise foresight and caution to make the right decisions concerning sports nutrition products.

Supplement formulations for sports enthusiasts

Supplements (or "complements") for sports enthusiasts can take various forms: powders, tablets, bars, shakes, and juice. Some are intended as meal replacements. Their content varies greatly. Common ingredients include:

  • carbohydrates
  • protein
  • natural metabolites (i.e. amino acids)
  • vitamins and minerals
  • natural health products

Protein (particularly in powder form) are very popular supplements. Protein is an essential nutrient for everyone, and sports enthusiasts must ensure to take a sufficient amount. It is generally possible to ensure an adequate protein intake through a balanced diet. Some individuals turn to supplementation despite this.

About creatine

Creatine is a well-liked supplement due to its moderate ability to improve strength, volume, mass, and muscle definition. It is of little interest for endurance sports like running and appeals more to sports enthusiasts who practise sports involving intense muscle strength, such as bodybuilding, weightlifting, and CrossFit.

Medical research that has been conducted to date shows that creatine is useful and safe when used properly. However, since it is an amino acid that the body can produce itself, it usually isn't essential to take it as a supplement. Possible side effects include stomach ache, nausea, weight gain, and muscle cramps.

Vigilance and caution

Read the following advice before purchasing a supplement:

  • Find out about the product's ingredients and ensure that they do not include any harmful, prohibited or illegal substances. Since supplements are not officially regulated in Canada, it can be more difficult to evaluate their quality and safety.
  • Consult reliable sources of information. Do not rely solely on the information provided by the product vendor. Your pharmacist can certainly help you to see things more clearly.
  • Check if the supplement has a Natural Product Number or a Drug Identification Number (DIN). These numbers indicate that the product has been evaluated by Health Canada and that its use has been determined to be safe.
  • Pay particular attention to the amount of sugar and calories contained in the product, especially if you would like to lose weight. Some formulations contain a lot of them.
  • Carefully follow the manufacturer's recommendations that appear on the label, especially with regard to dosage.
  • Drink plenty of water when you work out, as certain supplements increase the risk of dehydration.

Advice about health and performance

If you are concerned about improving your physical appearance or sports performance, focus first on a healthy lifestyle.

  • Get sufficient sleep.
  • Abstain from smoking or consuming illegal products or any other addictive substance.
  • Adopt a healthy and balanced diet by following the recommendations in the Canada Food Guide.
  • Avoid drastic diets. Aim for long-term results.
  • Eat more protein and fibre-rich foods and less fatty or sweet foods.
  • If needed, seek the expertise of a nutritionist.

Before purchasing sports supplements or any natural health products, always speak to your pharmacist for information and advice about their optimal and safe use.


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Sports, performance—and supplements

Are you considering taking a supplement to improve your sports performances or your physical appearance? Read the following text to make an informed decision.
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