Football is one of the most demanding sports in the world. Regardless of the level you play at, it requires hours on the training ground to play at the top of your game for 90 minutes.
There's no substitute for football training but playing well goes beyond the training ground. Football nutrition is now a crucial part of the beautiful game. Every top club has nutritionists to ensure their players eat the right food and take the correct dietary supplements to boost their performance.
However, not all sports supplements go through independent testing and even some that do still contain banned substances. Knowing whether a dietary supplement is tested and safe to use is crucial for maintaining your health and avoiding potentially lengthy bans. Our complete guide to tested supplements will show you how to be sure that the supplement product you choose is safe.
What Are Dietary Supplements for Football?
On average, a footballer will run around 10km in a single game. To do that, you need high cardiovascular fitness levels and a way to maintain speed, power, strength, and agility over 90 minutes. While a balanced diet is essential, many top players now add nutritional supplements to their diet to boost performance and energy and decrease recovery time. Examples of supplements include:
- Creatine — Aids muscle growth and increases body strength, endurance and reduces fatigue.
- Caffeine — Increases focus and alertness and reduces fatigue.
- Protein — Supports muscle growth and repair.
- Multivitamins and minerals — Used to support a well-balanced diet to ensure players get everything they need and don't suffer from deficiencies.
Alongside boosting performance on the pitch, supplements also aid:
- Blood pressure
- Healthy bones
- Immune system
As with other athletes and gym-goers, supplement use has become prevalent over the last couple of decades, and the pandemic saw supplement use soar. As the products have become increasingly popular, more and more companies have started producing supplements. But not all supplements are safe to use, and some contain banned substances; even some tested supplements may not be permitted by Football authorities like the Football Association (FA).
Testing in the Supplement Industry
As the demand for dietary supplements has rapidly grown, manufacturers have increasingly needed to ensure that their products comply with regulatory guidelines. These guidelines are used to assure:
But while almost all supplements undergo rigorous testing before being used by players, sports supplements often require further investigation to ensure that they comply with the official sporting body's rules.
For football players, it's vital to check that any supplements or substances they use are legal to use in the country and league that they play in. For example, in 2016, Samir Nasri was served an 18-month ban after receiving an IV vitamin treatment. Nasri insisted that he didn't realise he was breaking any rules, but the ban stood.
So while treatments, medications or supplements may be legal to use, they can still be prohibited for footballers. Football players are subject to random drug tests that use urine samples and blood tests to check for any banned substances and so finding safe, tested supplements is crucial.
Banned substances for the Premier League, for example, include:
- Anabolic agents
- Hormone and metabolic modulators
You can view the complete list of banned substances here.
Due to the risk of lengthy bans, many supplement companies seek further independent testing from bodies like Informed Sport. Informed Sport is a testing and certification programme for sports supplements that ensures compliance with sporting bodies like the FA and the International Football Federation (IFF) and are free from banned substances.
How to Find Tested Supplements
It can be a daunting prospect for footballers to find supplements that they can be sure are safe to use. Choosing the wrong supplement just once can seriously damage your health and career prospects. So when you're looking for new supplements, it's good to look for five things:
1. Buy Supplements from a Company You Trust
Sports supplements face far less regulation than medicine, and some companies do not undergo independent testing. Choose a company that you know you can trust. Look at reviews online and player endorsements of the products — if top players use the products, then it's probable that they do not contain banned substances.
2. Check Third-Party Verification on Packaging
Look at the packaging of the dietary supplement on the brand's website or in-store. Reputable supplement brands will undergo independent testing and will bear the logo of the independent testing body on the packaging. If you find a logo you're not familiar with, do some research to see if it’s legitimate.
3. Find Third-Party Verification Online
If you're unsure whether or not a product is legitimate, you can check online for third-party verification. Most independent testing bodies will have a list of certified products that you can cross-reference with the product you are potentially buying.
4. Look at the Ingredients
Supplements often contain many ingredients, and reputable supplement brands will supply a complete list of ingredients on the product packaging or online. You can cross-reference the ingredients against the banned substance list to check if the product is safe to use.
5. Check the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)
WADA updates its list of Prohibited Substances and Methods in January every year. Alongside downloading the most up-to-date banned substance list, there is also an app where you can check to see if a substance is banned or not.
If you are still unsure after checking these five areas, then it's a good idea to err on the side of caution. The risk to your health and the possibility of bans are too severe to take the chance.
Our Tested Supplements
Informed Sport independently tests Soccer Supplement’s entire range of products to ensure they contain no banned substance and are safe to use. This means we can assure our customers that the products they use will up their game safely and risk-free.
All of our products proudly display the Informed Sport logo and can be found on Informed Sport's list of certified products.