Use of Sports Supplements in Competitive Handball Players: Sex and Competitive Level Differences.
Abstract: Sports supplements are commonly used by elite athletes with the main goal of enhancing sport performance. Supplements use might be substantially different depending on the sport discipline, sex, and competitive level. To date, data about prevalence and the most-commonly used supplements in handball are scarce. Thus, the aim of this investigation was to determine the patterns of supplements use by handball players of both sexes and with different competitive levels: One hundred and eighty-seven handball players (112 men and 75 women) of different competitive levels (106 professional and 81 amateur) completed a validated self-administered questionnaire about supplements use. Supplements were classified according to the categorization of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). Overall, 59.9% of the handball players (n = 112) declared the use of at least one supplement and there were no significant differences between men and women (58.9% vs. 61.3%, p = 0.762) nor between professional vs. amateur handball players (67.1% vs. 53.8%, p = 0.074). The most prevalent supplements were sports drinks (42.2%), followed by energy bars (35.3%) and caffeine-containing products (31.6%). However, a greater consumption of group A supplements (those with strong scientific evidence; p = 0.029) and group B supplements (those with emerging scientific support, p = 0.012) was observed in male compared to female handball players. Supplements categorized as medical supplements were more commonly consumed in professional vs. amateur players (0.48 ± 0.80 vs. 0.21 ± 0.44, supplements p < 0.006). Additionally, a higher consumption of group B supplements was observed in professional compared to amateur players (0.58 ± 0.88 vs. 0.33 ± 0.72 supplements, p = 0.015). Handball players revealed a moderate use of supplements while sex and competitive level slighted changed the pattern of supplements use. A high portion of handball players use supplements as fuel during exercise and reported the use of caffeine-containing supplements to enhance performance.
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