High school athletes use supplements to gain an edge

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- The search for the next star player never ends.

"Kids and parents want to do everything they can to give their kid that competitive edge over another kid or another athlete that thinks it might get them to the next level so they can get that scholarship,” Topeka High Head Football Coach, Walt Alexander said.

But only 2% of high school athletes received athletic scholarships to college.

So, some try to gain an edge through supplements like protein powder, creatine and mass gainers to improve weight gain, strength and energy.

“They want to get bigger and stronger and they think buying something from the store is going to do it better than eating a lot of good food,” Alexander said.

Kylie Hanson is a licensed dietitian and trainer with K-State. She says too often athletes are looking for a quick fix.

“I think there's a persona that I'm just going to take a supplement and I'm automatically going to be better,” Hanson said.

Supplements are big business. Stores like GNC and Vitamin Shoppe are devoted to fitness products. But even grocery and convenience stores sell a variety of protein and creatine powders.

“There's a lot of research to be done on supplements out there right now that's it's hard to know exactly what's in every single supplement or what each company is coming out that's going to be the latest and greatest,” Hanson said.

For safe supplements make sure to look for a third party verification label from NSF or Informed Sport.

“They've gone through an extensive testing process to make sure they are safe,” said Hanson. “That what the label says is what's in the product versus a supplement that is not third party tested could contain an ingredient that is not listed on the label which could have negative health effects.”

The most important thing? A balanced diet.

Hanson says supplements can’t replace a healthy lifestyle and hard work.

“It comes down to nutrient timing and are you eating the right foods at the right time that's helping you recover,” Hanson said.

"The bottom line: lift hard, work hard, eat right, eat a lot of good food and you'll be fine,” Alexander said.

Experts encourage younger athletes to talk to a parent or doctor to make sure there are no additional risks.