To parents (from a parent at Shop.Builder)

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Dear Parent, Let us share some thoughts with you too – as one parent to another. Our CEO and many of our colleagues are practitioners of parenthood themselves, so the following chapters will be about setting you at ease: we give advice to your offspring with the same sense of responsibility as to our own.

I assume that when a kid gets home saying that he or she would like to start training – be it any kind sport, even with weights –, there are hardly any parents who would get dispirited by the fact that the child was about to start something sensible and healthy. But when the wish to take food-supplements pops up, many parents get their alarms triggered after all the bad news and dreadful stuff pouring from TV, radio, and online media about food-supplements, and their harmful effects – with varying amount of truth in them. This is absolutely normal, and originates in the parents’ apprehension – who would be so bold as to expose their child to dangerous substances, right?

This article is about to clarify which products are NOT dangerous, and which ones are to be avoided.

What is okay to use?

What are food-supplements?

First of all we should lay one thing down: food-supplements are foodstuffs. They are special kinds of foodstuffs, but still foodstuffs. They are not medicines, and they are not wonder substances or poisons either. There are strict rules and conditions to meet for any foodstuff product to make it to the markets in the EU and Hungary. Food-supplements are not exempt from that either! It is pretty hard to describe all food-supplements in one sentence as there are so many different kinds of it. Their name is rather informative: they are substances that are supplementary to our food so that our body can function in a more effective way.

Is it necessary? Why can’t we just do it in a ‘natural’ way? Why is that ‘help’ needed?

Doing exercises require a lot of energy invested. And it is not just about the execution of movements, but the regeneration too – and that is the key. The body can stay healthy only if regeneration is at its optimum between training sessions. In case we fail to keep it that way, overtraining occurs, power is lost, and some processes are initiated too that not only impede the development of the body, but can increase the risk of injuries, and affect general health by hindering the immune system. This is not exclusive to workouts with weights – all sports are exposed to ‘overtraining’. The primary role of food-supplements is to prevent this unwanted state. They are not capable of curing illnesses or symptoms themselves – hence the name ‘supplement’ to indicate that a proper diet is needed too. On the other hand they can be very useful if experts’ advice is followed regarding their dosage and use. So they have a health-maintaining effect, especially for someone doing sports seriously.

To parents (from a parent at Shop.Builder) – Concentrated food, and nothing else

Isn’t it a doping drug?

Unfortunately the media has these supplements and drugs all mixed up. Even some doctors tend to make the same mistake of not differentiating between the two categories. This means that there is a lot to do in tutoring, educating, and informing for all of us – experts, pedagogues, sports medicine doctors, and parents too.

Doping drugs are NOT available in the ordinary course of trade, they are black-market pharmaceutical products (often smuggled from abroad) – they should be available exclusively in pharmacies through prescriptions, and used under medical supervision only. Shops doing legal business do NOT have such products in their range. These products are sold by smugglers and dealers in gym locker rooms. Selling drugs (including doping drugs) illegally is forbidden of course, but there is no way to station policemen in every locker room to fight the black market. Plain-dealing gym owners, educated trainers, and those dedicated to sports and a healthy way of life do everything they can to prevent these substances from spreading. Unfortunately this kind of business is similar to selling narcotic drugs: the profits potential and the myth of getting light sentences only make many ‘low life’ people take part in it.

Isn’t it a doping drug?

When buying food-supplements at a legal shop, rest assured that the products are free of steroids. Food-supplements are checked closely in the EU, and if there is any objection or suspicion about them within or outside the EU, then authorities and all the distributors are notified through the so-called RASFF system that the product in question is to be recalled from the markets. Our web shop is keen on following such alerts on an international scale, and if any products or active agents are listed in such notifications, we prevent those products to reach our costumers. No such control is applied towards illegal doping drugs. Apart from active substances purchased from eastern pharmacies that are less strictly regulated, smugglers often have fake products of uncertain origins in their portfolio that can even be poisonous.

What should a parent look for (if something is spotted in the training bag)?

There are two major groups of HARMFUL, illegal doping drugs – or the so-called ‘steroids’ for body-builders. One group contains the steroids in ampoules that can be administered in injections. These are the ones easier to identify, as they look like ordinary ampoules of vaccines and active substances in a doctor’s office, and they are likely to be accompanied by injectors and hollow needles. Apart from the risk of having it administered in a dilettantish way, it also a possible source of infection (especially if the needle is used by several people and/or more than once). If you find something like this at the child (especially if he/she is under age) then it is high time for a serious talk.

Unfortunately an even higher risk is presented by the illegal doping drugs that are pilled or capsuled – moreover they look very similar to everyday vitamin products. In this case you need to look for a box that resembles medicines but has no Hungarian label on. If pills are found with no box to contain them, and those pills look suspicious or odd, their shape is strange, etc.

Nowadays more and more food-supplement manufacturers use the bubble or ‘blister’ packaging that is more hygienic and, safer, and in which capsules and pills are protected individually against unclean touches – some vitamins and joint supporting products. These won’t make them either medicines or illegal substances – being in a bubble package does not mean that they are dangerous or harmful. The following names are to be memorized as they might indicate use of unhealthy products: Naposim or Napozin, Winstrol, Decadurabolin, Dianabol, Sustanon, Anapolon, Omnadren, Proviron, Parabolan, Andriol – and these are just the most common ones. If you find such labels, dear fellow parent, start entertaining suspicion!

...Things that are not available in a shop

...Things that are not available in a shop – doping drugs

Unfortunately it is beyond us to limit what our children will see as a “private bargain”. Steroids and other doping agents are illegal, but SADLY they are easy to get. Luckily they are easy to distinguish from food-supplements. These are pharmaceutical products, and that makes them easy to spot by their packaging. Please find below some pictures of the most common doping products used by beginners – you will see that they are easy to identify. As long as you find nothing like these in the child’s stuff, there is no need to worry – protein buckets and amino capsules that can be found in shops are okay. We try to inform every beginner to make things clear: taking such drugs for an enhanced progress is just not worth it.

On the other hand if you forbid your child from all substances, then you cannot really expect him/her to see the difference between right and wrong – you make him/her buy the stuff that is easier to take without being supervised.

But if safe supplements are okay to take, the child is much less likely to use doping drugs.

The “body-builders’ diet”

It is off the topic of supplements, but the subject of body-building diet is closely related. Many of the parents get frustrated when their kid is to start the “chicken-and-rice” routine. It is monotonous, and eating something all the time is sure to be unhealthy.

But let’s just think about it for a second. What are the nutrients we suggest to include in a diet? Only raw, fresh, natural substances, loads of vegetables, several light meals a day, proper amount of liquid, etc. Is the structure of the diet weird at first glance? Yes, it certainly looks weird for an outsider. But let’s take a closer look! Following this diet our child will take much healthier and valuable nutrients than that of a ‘conventional’ diet in the usual breakfast – lunch – supper scenario. Here we see no chocolate rolls, no white bread, no sugar, no syrup, no soft drinks – just pure foodstuff.

Is it expensive? It is indeed – at first sight. But let’s see protein, carbohydrate and fat content of that diet, and then let’s see what an immense quality improvement can be achieved by taking the foodstuff suggested by us. You might realize that cheap is not cheap at all. So let’s think it over before saying no.

We must also confess one thing: the amount consumed is definitely larger than that of an average person. Please do not expect someone doing sports to have the same energy demand as someone doing nothing at home!

Why would the kid take supplements?

Why would the kid take supplements?

In many cases the reason is that he/she just follows his/her friends, but an even more common reason is that you, dear fellow parents, are not partners in providing such a healthy diet as described above. Yes, you are right! It requires time and extra attention, in certain cases the child athlete/body builder is on a totally different diet than the rest of the family, and yes, it might be more expensive too!

The question of “Why not proper food?” will also come up at some point. Let’s define the concept of “proper food” first. An average person thinks of a bun with cold-cuts as food that is okay. What does a bun with cold-cuts have in it? White flour – mentioned as “white death” by renowned dietary experts from the 1970’s on –, loads of artificial substances (most of the cold-cuts are enhanced by soy or even less valuable vegetable proteins) that are basically there to stick the main ingredient of cold-cuts together: tankage (e.g. lard, hide, innards, and whatnot), with some preservatives added. If we have the bun smeared with margarine (hydrogenated vegetable butter), then we can say that there is not 1 gram of the sandwich that is healthy or useful. Moreover the nutritional value is zero as it contains little protein, and its carbohydrates are of the fast-absorbing type that raises insulin levels quick, so it contributes to weight gain… Oh, and the fats you eat in it are proved to increase the risk of having cardiovascular problems. So is it proper food or not?

Do you really think that your child is better off with buns and margarine and cold-cuts, than with lean chicken breast roasted fresh, a fish fillet, or a nice piece of beef? Or the garnish of brown rice and loads of green salad?

The diet described above might be troublesome to prepare, and in many cases is also pretty expensive. Food-supplements are often used for convenience (and believe me, also to lower the costs). We certainly do not wish to put the blame on anyone eating buns and cold-cuts, but we would like to point it out that if we are so forgiving about this, then what's the reason to be partial against foodstuffs that contain the valuable nutrients in a pure and concentrated form – the nutrients that the “proper food” is stripped off to low concentration by the large scale production and refinement methods?

What happens when someone drinks a protein shake? What enters his/her body? It obviously has some artificial substance in it – coloring matters, flavors, aromas (while the sandwich mentioned above has almost NOTHING ELSE). But it ALSO has high grade whey protein in it that is easier to absorb than milk or egg protein. It enhances the immune system, supports regeneration, contains no extra cholesterol or added sugar, and in some cases it also has a vitamin content.

Or let’s see a weight-gaining supplement: the aforementioned protein is accompanied by some carbohydrates in a ratio and quantity that is the best for the muscles to regenerate and reload after workouts – thus it prevents the body to decompose itself. These supplements are absorbed fast and easy, and that is an important feature after workouts – this is one of the reasons for being way better than “proper food”. Especially after workouts. As they are absorbed quickly and utilized easily, they represent a fast way to enter extra nutrients into the body – yes, basically these are nutrients in a concentrated form.

Chicken and rice, with a bit of broccoli

So what is proper food? What is the foundation of the category? Nutritional value? That would make supplements clear winners over conventional food. Or probably we just keep saying something out of habit? Don’t get us wrong, we do promote the idea to cover as much of the daily nutritional demand as possible from solid foodstuff. But the contribution of supplements cannot be overlooked in case of athletes, while they don’t pose the threats that many tend to associate with them – and that is clearly shown by many extensive, and well documented studies about the most popular supplements available.

What we suggest to avoid?

Yes, there is a category for that too. We are against taking supplements with vegetable stimulants in them under the age of 18 (e.g. caffeine, etc.) Most of these are fat-burning or pre-workout energizing drinks or capsules. They are not worse than coffee, but we suggest not to drink coffee either at such age. There is no need to take any products that support or enhance the body’s own testosterone synthesis. Taking such substances can only be justified if the person is known to have low hormone levels (or above the age of 30). If this is not the case then there is no benefit as it is impossible to wind up a hormone factory already at its maximum. The most reliable suppliers have never ever produced harmful products. Moreover, some of the suppliers have certificates to prove that their products are free of doping agents. We are happy to help anyone interested coming to our shop or contacting our customer service.

So what we think of as the best approach from parents?

We think that the child should be allowed to use supplements with the parents’ consent – the supplements taken should be known by the parents, plus the use and dosage of them should be talked over. Our experts at the web store are also happy to help – we’ll let you know what is necessary or recommended for your child. We ask you to contact our one of our experts in writing or in person at our shops in Szeged or Budapest. Let’s talk about the reasons why the child wants to use that particular supplement. Is it really necessary? Can you, as parents, help that kid by adjusting the diet first for the family (and the kid)? Is it possible to purchase all the basic foodstuffs as required by the child’s activities and development (such as curd cheese light, ricotta, cottage cheese, chicken or turkey breast, fish fillet, lean beef, canned tuna, fresh vegetable, fruits, whole wheat cereals, oat meal, rice, potato etc.) In many cases introducing these basic foodstuffs, and implementing a diet that is manageable by the mother is enough ALREADY to achieve great results. Supplements are need only if the goals and development of the child render them necessary. But if you are not partners in preparing healthy and appropriate diet, then your child will look for alternatives to improve his/her prospects for development.

It is your responsibility too, to have the child do so in a healthy way with your consent and supervision!

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