A mission to normalise supplements in young athletes

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

Getty | Alistair Berg
Getty | Alistair Berg

Related tags Sports nutrition functional beverage beverage

Many consumers, and even those working within the sports nutrition industry, believe there is no space for supplements in adolescent health, but Lou Antonio Matera is a man on a mission to change this perception.

The founder & CEO of Youth Sport Nutrition joined the Sports & Active Nutrition Summit Europe (SANSE) in Amsterdam last week to discuss the ‘slightly contentious' topic of supplements in youth sport.

He explained that whilst his company does sell nutrition products aimed at young athletes, his main role is around educating players and their parents into understanding the beneficial role that supplements, in general, can play in young athletes’ health.

He noted that often the parents of young athletes have little or no knowledge of nutrition and are trying to cater to fussy eaters with high energy demands, who are also going through rapid periods of growth. Add to this the fact these parents are often time-starved and all these factors make it incredibly difficult to provide the nutritious meals their children need.

“Even for us as adults, it’s hard for us to get nutrition right but a lot of the time young athletes’ nutritional needs are as high, if not higher, than

IMG_7500
Lou Antonio Matera at the SANSE

ours.

“From the age of 12 to 18, athletes are going through rapid periods of growth and their skeletal structure isn’t generally complete until they are 25, so nutrition at this age can help avoid long term issues further down the road.

“If young athletes get their nutrition wrong it impacts everything – not only in terms of their performance but also their cognition at school, their ability to recover without aches and pains, their immunity, their ability to participate in activities with friends..."

He says parents will often have the somewhat old-fashioned perception of sports nutrition, thinking these products are for body builders.

“If we look at what a supplement, it is simply food in a convenient format. Brands like Huel are helping get that message out there and its an important message for us to push. If kids think that a supplement is a quick fix this can cause health issues so it’s really important that they know it’s just nutritious food in powder format.”

Antonio Matera told the conference delegates that Youth Sport Nutrition is on a mission to eliminate youth sport undernourishment through its education as well as its range of supplements under the 'NutriTeen​'​ brand. The range includes a complete recovery powder shake and energy-rich snack bars.

“After a training session a lot of the time kids will go to the vending machine or buy something from McDonalds so our main aim is to provide something convenient that can fill that gap.”

 

 

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