Supplements: not exactly what it says on the tin

Having just completed the final lung busting sprint of training on a random Thursday night. The steam is rising of you and your fellow teammates as you enter the dressing room. Each player plants themselves on the hard-wooden bench. A common sight in many GAA club changing rooms across Ireland, that many will relate too. However, recently, most clubs have had the one person in the team who draws what looks like a cream whipper from the side pocket of their bag. “What’s that lad?”, one person will invariably say, to which the response will be “ah, this, it’s a protein shake lad, it’s for recovery”. Before long, the concept had spread amongst the crowd and ques have formed outside the local health shop.

The idea of using supplements has spread to most facets of Sport, be that elite or amateur levels. It has been reported that 75-85% of athletes consume at least one supplement, with 21% reported to be consuming at least 6 supplements (Maughan et al., 2007). Estimates place the value of the supplement industry in the United States at approximately $35 billion, with it expected to grow exponentially in the coming years (Kuszak et al., 2015). Especially given the level of exposure, these supplement companies get through social media and celebrity endorsements.




Creatine is a protein that the body can make using three amino acids (arginine, glycine and methionine). It can be found in foods such as meat and fish, however not in high quantities. High doses can be achieved through supplementation.

How it works

The muscle stores of a protein called phosphocreatine are limited. Creatine supplementation raises these limited stores. According to Hultman et al (1996) they are raised typically by around 2%. (more…)