How to build muscle without supplements



There has been much in the media lately about supplements in sports and the quest to build bigger stronger faster athletes. The question is – are supplements absolutely necessary, especially for young athletes? 
The answer is no. Learning how to train, along with eating and growing are the tools required.

The key points for young athletes are eating and drinking very regularly (at least 5-6 times a day), planning a combination of protein and carbohydrates at each occasion (depending on the time of training sessions and the time of day), and being organised in order to have these items on hand as well as fit in all the kilojoules required.

Planning to eat/drink something that provides carbohydrate for energy is essential before training for young growing athletes. Recovery nutrition requires both carbohydrates and protein within the 30-60 minutes after all training sessions – especially strength sessions where muscle building and maintenance is the goal, 
Recent evidence also suggests that a large glass of milk (350-500ml) before bed may be very beneficial for muscle protein stimulation in those first few hours of ‘rest and recovery’. Milk provides the amino acid leucine which is a key factor in muscle growth.

We do agree that supplements can help an athlete meet their nutritional goals, and can be used in appropriate situations, when access to food is delayed or compromised.  However, similar results can be achieved with preparation of nutritious snacks.  Examples of snacks providing the right nutrients include tuna and rice, cheese and crackers, nuts and seeds with fruit, yoghurts and any type of milk (or milk alternative) drink.

For more individual advice see the BSEMS resident Eat Smart Sport Dietitians Joseph Spelta and Lauren Nugent.