What are supplements and how can you make the right choice?

Author: Josh Ciechanowski – Founder and Director of Nutrie   Date Posted: 18 February 2016 

The Essendon Football Club supplements scandal has put the focus fairly and squarely on supplementation for athletes but has also generated a large amount of confusion amongst the public. Unfortunately, the term ‘supplements’ has now been tainted with a broad brush of negativity, so much so that for some, understanding the difference between what is safe/allowed in sport is too hard so they simply find it easiest to avoid them altogether.  This would be a shame though, as supplements really can make a big difference to your performance with the majority of top level athletes in all disciplines supplementing to boost their performance and the huge majority are as risky as a drinking a glass of milk.

In this article, I thought I’d help break things down a little for you so you can easily differentiate between what is and isn’t safe and also why you never have to worry about any supplements you purchase from us at Nutrients Direct.

From early last season, Nutrients Direct became the official Sports Nutrition partner of the VAFA. Naturally, the VAFA always puts player’s safety and well-being first, and Nutrients Direct went through a comprehensive screening process to provide VAFA with the confidence that all Nutrients Direct products were free from any banned substances and WADA compliant. This involved a review of all relevant quality documentation, our supplier assurance program, and the general standards we adhere to when manufacturing our supplements. But more about us later.

If you visit the ASADA website, they define supplements as follows:

“Nutritional supplements cover a broad range of products including vitamins, minerals, herbs, meal supplements, sports nutrition products, natural food supplements, and other related products used to boost the nutritional content of the diet.

The marketplace supplies thousands of supplements claiming to provide nutritional support for athletes. Some of these consist of high-protein products, such as amino acid supplements, while other products contain nutrients that support metabolism, energy, and athletic performance and recovery.  Supplements can be found in pill, tablet, capsule, powder or liquid form.”

In the case of Nutrients Direct, we currently only supply supplements in powdered form. Our supplements are considered food, and therefore come under the governance of Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) and not the Therapeutic Good Act (TGA). TGA regulates medicines and other substances making claims to have therapeutic benefits. In some cases there can be some grey areas between the two. For example, minced or crushed garlic in a bottle is likely to be a food as there is a tradition of use of garlic as food in that form in Australia. However, if chemicals in the garlic are extracted, concentrated and marketed in a capsule with claims that it can be used to ‘relieve cold and flu symptoms’ it might be considered a medicine.

Australia has some of the most rigorous rules and regulations for supplement manufacturing in the world so the first piece of advice I can give you to ensure you don’t inadvertently consume something that could get you banned from sport is to choose supplements that are Australian made. Different countries have different rules and whilst there are many reputable brands from overseas, you may often take a bigger gamble by using them. For example, many products from the USA contain DMAA and this has been banned in Australia.

ASADA is the Australian arm of the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA). They stipulate what is and isn’t permissible for athletes to consume in Australia. Each year WADA updates and publishes a Prohibited List. The Prohibited List is the international standard that outlines the substances and methods that are prohibited in sport. It reflects the latest scientific and medical advances and is finalised after a consultative process facilitated by WADA.

WADA is responsible for preparing and annually publishing the  List of Prohibited Substances and Methods following consultation with experts and WADA’s many stakeholders. Development of the list involves a number of meetings each year of the List Expert Group. The list is approved by WADA’s Executive Committee in September of each year and published three months prior to it coming into effect on 1 January. In addition to WADA’s promotion of the Prohibited List, ASADA also promotes the list and its changes to Australian sports and athletes each year.

Key note:  ASADA and the World Anti-Doping Agency do not endorse supplement products. So if you see a company claiming their products are ‘ASADA approved’ or ‘ASADA endorsed’ you know that it isn’t true. These promotions are false and may lead to serious consequences for athletes.

There is nothing wrong with promoting products as WADA compliant as this just means (at least in our case) that we are fully aware of what is banned and you commit to never allow those substances to come anywhere near your products as we do at Nutrients Direct.

Nutrients Direct was founded with the goal to provide all Aussies with locally made, high quality, great tasting, and easy-mixing supplements for much less than you’d normally pay when buying retail. We’re here to make top notch supps accessible to everyone and to support athletes and anyone trying to improve their sport performance or aesthetics. The last thing we’d ever want to do is create problems for our customers by allowing banned substances into our products.  Here’s how we do that.

In short, all suppliers have comprehensive vendor assurance programs in place to ensure no ingredients have even traces of banned substances in them as dictated by the WADA anti-doping code. We wouldn’t even consider suppliers that produce or store things like steroids or Human Growth Hormone (HGH) on site to eliminate any risk of cross-contamination.

ND send our suppliers and any potential suppliers a form advising them that they cannot supply us with banned substances or traces of them in ingredients they supply us, making them liable for any contaminated products. There is too much at stake for them financially and to their reputation in the industry if they don’t supply us and other companies with ingredients free from any banned substances.

You’re at much greater risk by consuming medications you buy from the supermarket or chemist. All the substances that caused problems for Essendon are very hard to even get hold of and need to be prescribed by an actual doctor. Thank you Dr Dank for all the bad jokes that come our way!

Our most popular product is whey protein, and whey is a bi-product of the cheese-making process. Those of you who liked nursery rhymes growing up will remember how Little Miss Muffet couldn’t get enough of the stuff. What the nursery rhymes don’t tell you is how she could deadlift twice her body weight! It’s dairy food in powdered form with naturally very high levels of bio-available protein with some sweetener and flavours added.

Of course our comprehensive range goes far beyond just whey protein and includes supplements to boost energy, strength, recovery, endurance, mental alertness, fat-burning, muscle-building and so on. All of which are well researched, safe, and importantly WADA compliant.

Please take a look at our website www.nutrientsdirect.com.au where you’ll find plenty of helpful information on which supplements would be beneficial for your goals. All ingredients, nutritionals, dosages, benefits etc. are there for every flavour. Feel free to contact us if you have any other questions that you can’t find the answers to on the site or in the FAQs section.

Happy training and wish you all a huge and successful season.

Yours in strength, Josh