(WGEM) - Is your teenager using protein supplements?
If so, have you read the warning label on the jug? Many supplements are not intended for teenagers and some medical experts say they can be dangerous.
A new study out of the University of Minnesota finds that 35-percent of adolescents are now using the supplements on a regular basis.
Quincy Notre Dame Senior Connor Obert is part of that number. Like most teen athletes, Obert does all he can to have an edge over the competition.
That includes taking protein shakes.
"Since football season, I've gained about 20 pounds or so," Obert said.
Obert says a routine of workouts and protein shakes has been successful for him.
"I'll take a pre-workout thing to get me going and then I'll do my workout which usually consists of a major lift and then various smaller lifts," Obert said. "When I am done with the workout I take a whey protein and then a recovery shake which has kerotine in it."
While Obert's regiment is typical of high school athletes, experts say they should not be overindulging in the shakes.
Lacy Chapel is a certified athletic trainer at Quincy Medical Group. She says shakes for teen athletes simply aren't needed. She says a strict workout and diet, combined with daily supplement use, can be a dangerous mix.
"Walking a fine line when you start introducing it to youth and high school athletes because they have to be very well educated on it and it's a lot of science and physiology of what exactly do you need," Chapel said.
Many commonly used supplement carry warning labels, clearly stating that they are not intended for people under 18 years old. Chapel knows many teens still decide to use supplements, but she says teens certainly shouldn't use them every day.
"If he is running around and doesn't have a lot of time, it's kind of more of a time thing and it is easier for him to grab a shake, I would say that is okay, but I wouldn't suggest that every single time or overindulge in that," Chapel said.
Chapel's advice for parents; get educated on your teen's workout and supplements, because as long as there is competitive sports, protein shakes look to be around for a long time.
"Competitiveness is big among this because people think that they see people that are bigger than them and they're small," Obert said.
Obert agrees with Chapel about the importance of being educated about supplements. That's why he works under the supervision of a licensed trainer.
"I think people are smart about it for the most part. That's what I see," Obert said.
Chapel says if your teen wants to build muscle, it's a good idea to consult a doctor and create a plan. Palmyra High School football coach Kevin Miles says he watches his players closely.
"We just keep an eye on them, that they are not gaining too much and if they are going to take that stuff they have to work really hard in the weight room because if they're not it's probably not going to be as good for them or detrimental, not going to be detrimental I guess but it is going to not get the benefit they want out of it."
Miles says he doesn't encourage protein shake use for his players. But, if they decide to use them, he pays close attention to them.
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