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Surprised there was no previous information about this. Anyway, I was wondering if our members here could chime in on what experiences they've had, good and bad, with adding supplements to their training. I've recently spoken with a few dancers who use products such as whey protein powers and creatine, and they say they can certainly add a boost to one's health and physicality. Does anyone here have any experience with either of these things, or perhaps something of your own? It seems we live in an age where although there are quite a few gimmicks out there, there does also seem to be some products that actually give an edge to performance and the like. Dancers are athletes after all.

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I'm sure the mods will chime in soon, since food and nutrition issues are a touchy subject hereabouts!


Meanwhile (and subject to immediate removal by mods with no hard feelings on my part), it does seem logical that athletes need good nutrition for top performance. If (for example) you are not getting enough protein, a daily protein powder smoothie will probably help. On the other hand, if you're not getting enough healthy fats, more protein won't help a bit.


For what it's worth, I did reform my eating habits a few years ago (to a better balance of the elements - carbs/protein/fats) and it significantly improved my energy and endurance. In fact, I felt so good that a few months later I started taking ballet classes. :shrug: Of course, I also retired at the same time and left my swivel chair at the office - it's hard to separate all these changes into simple cause and effect.

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No objection from this corner. The problem with supplements is that they are less controlled than actual medicines, and the consumer has to do some research into which ones are best for his specific eating plan. There's a sticky at the top of the Nutrition and Health forum worth reviewing on what constitutes a balanced diet. If you need help, consult a Registered or Certified Dietitian for advice.

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Well (since we seem to have the go-ahead to discuss it) I quickly looked on the medical database Pubmed at several papers on this issue*. In general, they looked at whey and/or creatine supplementation on people who were undergoing resistance training (i.e. lifting weights) - in other words, in a regime where people would be expected to put on muscle mass. The results were mixed - in some studies there was a positive effect, in others not. I didn't see any reports of negative effects.


Some of the studies were done on young people who were not already in training. In other cases it was in relation to elderly people who needed to gain strength. One big problem in all these type of studies is matching the age, health status, and training status to the group you want to apply the conculsions to. Conclusions that apply to bedridden old people who need to gain strength after an operation may well not apply to healthy young people who are very physically active.


Often (in other studies on other factors - I did not read enough studies on it in this one to find out if it applied here) the people who gain from supplements, previously had an inadequate diet - if they were eating properly beforehand there tends not to be an effect.


The other point for the factors here (whey) is that the changes were measured during resistance training, when you need extra protein because you are putting on muscle mass. This may be different from the situation where you are maintaining an already-adequate muscle mass.


The general opinion of supplements overall is that if you have an adequate diet (which may need to be protein-rich if you are putting on muscle mass) you do not need supplements, because you are already getting enough of what you need in a natural way. Given that there were some positive reports, it seems it might work if you take the supplements mentioned during times when you are training and wanting to gain strength.


If people say they feel better with the supplements, you may ask, why not take them anyway? The answer (unless they turn out to be dangerous, which they do not seem to be in this case), is that the positive effects often turn out to be just placebo effects - they make you feel better because you think that they are going to do so. Whether you think it is worth spending money on this is up to you.




*A proper analysis would need to be done by an expert, because these types of study are very difficult to evaluate properly, and there are many pitfalls in interpretation.

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It all depends on the supplement, I guess.


Herbal supplements are not controlled, nor have many of them been rigorously tested. The "best" of them are known to act basically like steroids in your body, complete with the bad health effects of steroids. I believe some of these chemicals are banned in professional athletics.


Sure, no one will subject you to urine analysis before you go on stage. But there's also absolutely no need for these drugs. Ballet is incredibly multi-dimensional, and at best, drugs will give you only an edge in raw physicality --- just one of the many dimensions you must integrate to perform well.


Why not just eat a healthy balanced diet of normal whole food. That works great for the vast majority of dancers. If you're really concerned, I would talk to a nutritionist.

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Concur. The reason that I didn't use the term "nutritionist" is that, like the supplements, that term is not regulated, controlled or tested anywhere in the US that I know of. Anybody can hang out a shingle saying "nutritionist", and prescribe a diet of brown rice and green tea exclusively for all comers. When your system breaks down, you have a harder time bringing the anti-quackery law to your side. "Dietitian", though, is definitely a licensed profession throughout the US; I don't know how it works in other countries.

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Oh, thanks Mel. My sister in law is a "nutritionist," and she has a Ph.D. in Nutrition. I didn't realize that the term was unregulated.

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If she's in practice treating people, then the "R.D." or "C.D." after her name is what's regulated. It stands for "Registered/Certified Dietitian". I suppose that there could be "lab only" dietitians who study the biochemistry of nutrition, but never see patients.

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I don't think taking a good multivitamin and a good (Mercury free) fish oil capsule daily would do any harm. But then I am not a doctor, So get good medical advice.


You would have to eat a really sizable large pile of veggies and meats to get all the Recommended Daily allowances of Vitamins, fiber, minerals and other goodies.

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At one point I was trying to gain some upper body mass for a specific ballet, and added a protein supplement, creatine and additional weight training to my usual well balanced diet and ballet class/rehearsals. After 3 months there was no appreciable result, either in how I looked or how I felt. Ahhh well. . .

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Many many years ago I was a competitive weightlifter and lifted for the company that sold weights and food supplements (their most profitable business by far). I got all of their products free and took them regularly. Did they do any good? I have no idea if they did or didn’t. When people say they took some type of supplement and it did wonders, all they are doing is expressing a positive state of affairs at the moment. There is no way to really know the supplements value one way or the other.


My sense is that food is food, something needed for daily functioning and that’s it. Food is not a drug. Now when we talk about drugs, we are talking about substances that do have a direct effect on the body. That’s why they are called drugs.


Oh yes, when I stopped weightlifting 32 years ago, I stopped taking the supplements and think I’m in much better physical condition than most people my age.

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