Supplements marketed to athletes promise to enhance muscle mass, strength, and speed despite the dearth of scientific evidence supporting these claims. Often, many such products are promoted based on observations from in vitro (test tubes and tissue cultures) and animal trials, with no confirmation in humans.
Should the “Animal Olympics” become popular in the future, a whole new marketing strategy may subsequently emerge. Indeed, although animal data are intriguing, lack of follow-up in human trials is akin to relegating those findings observed in animals to substantial leaps of faith for human usage.
For instance, companies selling nutritional products often take a sales-before-science outlook on product promotion and have fallen victim to the abhorrent practice of presenting their “scientific data” at trade shows long before it is thoroughly researched.
To this end, magazines abound laden with colorful graphs and figures attempting to prove that the advertised product is the best, yet no references are provided citing any scientific evidence to back these claims.
As scientists, coaches, and practitioners of strength and power sports, it is tempting to laugh this off as just another chapter in the history of nutritional charlatanism; we are quick to condemn because it doesn’t fit our current paradigm.
We disbelieve new and novel findings because we are trained to be skeptical. And sadly, we discount an attempt at innovation because our governing organizations don’t have a position statement covering the topic.
Thus, we fall too easily into that habit of being sheep, instead of independent thinkers willing to challenge the marketplace and scientific arena. Unfortunately, this is a poor stance to take on the subject of supplements, especially as we are supposed to be the enlightened ones, owing to our years of training and practice in the field.