Frequently Questions

Can a vegetarian get enough protein? How can I build muscles on a vegan diet?

Protein is a nutrient made of amino acids— the building blocks for many of your body’s structures, including muscle, bone, skin, and hair. They also play a role in the creation of many substances that your body requires to go about its everyday business of living.
Some amino acids that cannot be made in the body are termed “essential.” We must get them from the food we eat. It is not difficult to meet your protein needs on a vegetarian or vegan diet. In fact, studies show that vegetarians and vegans usually meet or exceed their protein requirements. You just need to focus on including protein-rich foods in meals and snacks throughout the day.

What are Sports Nutrition Products?

Sports nutrition consist of products designed for and used by athletes, exercisers and sportsmen to improve their nutritional intake and/or some aspect of health, wellbeing, performance, muscle growth and/or recovery from exercise. The vast majority of sports nutrition products are formulated with natural ingredients, ranging from milk or egg proteins and fibres, sugars or vegetable starches to vitamins, minerals and more unique ingredients such as non-essential nutrients and herbs.

Disturbingly, when members of the public think of sports nutrition products, they often conflate them or their effects with performance-enhancing drugs. As will be elucidated, it has been the fringe, “black market” products (mostly from the United States) that have nefariously found their way into European shops and internet sites that have been responsible for the media reports, which have given rise to this unfair impression. In fact, “hormonal” (steroid-like) products and strong stimulant products have been banned for several years in most European countries. Even simply stating or implying that a product increases testosterone or some other hormone (whether it does so or not) will cause that product to be deemed “medicinal” and not allowable for sale as a “food supplement”. So in fact, clear legislation has long been in place to protect consumers from any potentially dangerous ingredients or misleading claims and it is actually ‘black market’ products that are virtually always the source of controversy.

Contaminated / Adulterated Products

Sports nutrition products are regularly cited in the media as a reason for athletes failing doping tests, sometimes because the athlete or coach responsible has specifically named the product involved. Occasionally this is reasonable, but often this is an unfair and out-of-date characterisation of a responsible, mainstream sector of the food and nutrition industry.

Virtually all performance-enhancing substances on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances are also banned from sports nutrition products sold in the EU. Furthermore, many sports nutrition companies take great steps to minimise the risk of processing, producing or selling a contaminated or adulterated product.

Although this risk can never be eliminated entirely, many companies choose to add a layer of assurance by having their products tested through world-leading testing programmes such as Informed-Sport/Informed-Choice, NZVT or Certified for Sport. Of those companies that do not choose to test their products, the vast majority take their responsibilities seriously: they are committed to having a full understanding of the provenance of the materials that go into a safely manufactured, accurately labelled final product.

Significant progress has been made by the sports nutrition industry to raise the overall levels of quality assurance in the last decade, but for a variety of reasons the risk of contamination leading to a failed doping test still exists. For this reason the industry must continue to be vigilant around this issue.

Powdered Foods, Bars & Drinks

Powdered foods, protein and energy bars, and drinks make up the vast majority of total sales of sports nutrition supplements. Typical products contain some form of milk, egg, beef, gelatin or soy protein and/or some form of simple sugar or starch derived from corn, wheat or oats. Beyond these ingredients they may include micronutrients like vitamins and minerals and some may also contain amino acids, creatine and occasionally, certain herbs.

Weight / Fat Loss support

Weight and fat loss products are used by active and non-active people alike. However, because many active people exercise to improve their appearance, shed body fat and improve muscle tone, these types of products are particularly attractive to sports nutrition users.
In the past, several so-called “fat burner” products have made unsubstantiated claims and some products appeared on the market which contained banned stimulants. Since then, this category has been highly scrutinised by the regulatory authorities in most EU countries. Currently, EU countries don’t allow the use of the word “fat burner” or allow any implication that these products cause weight loss unless they contain specific amounts of specific ingredients that have been approved to use a specific claim. Many countries also insist that the label state that these products should only be used in combination with a sensible diet and exercise program. Currently, the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulations dictate that only low-calorie meal replacements and a small number of ingredients are allowed to make claims about their ability to support weight and fat loss.