Monday, February 8, 2010

Supplements in Soccer – part 1

“Sports supplements“, “dietary supplements”, “nutritional ergogenic aids” and “sports foods” are some of the terms used to describe the range of products that collectively form the sports supplement industry. These products normally fit in one of the following definitions:

Ø  They are a practical and convenient way to meet your daily nutrient requirements (e.g. sports bars and gels) or to treat a known nutritional deficiency (e.g. a calcium or iron supplement);

Ø  They contain nutrients or other substances that directly enhance your sports performance.

However, despite all the advertisements, only a few of the commercialized products are scientifically proven to benefit athletes in general and soccer players in particular.
So, before trying any supplement, you must be well aware of the pros (meeting nutritional “needs”, scientifically-proven effects in performance, etc.) and cons (cost, side effects, doping, etc.) it will likely present to you.
Some 7 years ago I committed a mistake many athletes do: I spent lots of money in supplements that I actually didn’t need. In fact I was lacking better training methods, more rest at night and a good nutritional plan made of common foods!!

Thus I strongly advise you to seek professional guidance (with a Sports Nutritionist/Dietitian) before wasting money in useless supplements.
Although there is a time and a place for engineered nutrition, commercial products should be used knowledgeably, at the right times for the right reasons.

Please note that eating a variety of food as close to its natural form as possible is by far the best bet for improving health, preventing disease, optimizing healing, and enhancing performance.
Although these foods seem so mundane, vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy foods, nuts, and legumes tend to be better than supplements. They are all rich in a combination of the important vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, fat, carbohydrate, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that soccer players and other athletes need on a daily basis to succeed on the field.

Therefore, once you apply the best training, resting (6-8h of sleep at night) and nutritional practices to your life, you will be ready to consider supplement ingestion.
In the following blogs I will provide you useful information on a variety of sports supplements.

Recommended reading for more information: 

  • Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook (
  • Food Guide for Soccer: Tips & Recipes from the Pros   (

Stay tuned!

Wishing you the best performance ever,

Diogo Ferreira, RD
Sports Nutritionist, Lisbon, Portugal
“Promoting best health and performance through nutrition”