Performance enhancing drugs: what's safe and what's not?

Many trainers recommend post-workout protein drinks

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - When you're trying to run the fastest or lift the most, some turn to performance enhancers. But are they safe for young athletes?

Sean Ross, owner of Ross Strength and Conditioning, coaches dozens of high school athletes looking for that edge. He preaches nutrition first, but says there are a few enhancers that can help like post-workout drinks.

According to Ross, "They've done studies showing that it's great for recuperation to enhance your strength recovery abilities....The other substance that gets overlooked that's a great performance enhancer is water."

He says another option is creatine, but recommends athletes not use it until they are at least 18 years old.

Jeff Jucha, a strength and conditioning specialist and CrossFit gym owner, says age is an especially crucial factor when it comes to considering supplements.

"When you've got a younger person who is growing up, we've still got things that are variables in the body," Jucha said. "So we're not completely developed. Muscles haven't completely matured. Even connective tissue hasn't matured...but we're throwing things... into someone's body and then make it even worse by putting them in an underdeveloped body that isn't finished growing yet."

According to Jucha, the goal for any coach is to build an athlete.

"The work ethic for an athlete, the skills, the talent, the strength that they build - all that comes from coaching and training and putting in the work. None of that really comes out of a supplement.

Matt Christman works at See More Results. He recommends a few extras like protein, amino acids, branch amino acids and a multivitamin, but agrees with the trainers, saying they're called "supplements" for a reason.

He recommends athletes "get everything mostly through natural foods and supplement what you don't get through food."

One common enhancer all of our experts warn can be dangerous are stimulants like Red Bull, Monster and 5 Hour Energy.

"If you're drinking those energy drinks and then you're going and exercising - which is going to elevate your heart rate anyway, especially in this heat and humidity around here - it's a disaster potentially about to happen," says Ross.

The most important thing to remember is the basics: sound nutrition, staying hydrated and getting proper rest.

If you have any questions about what's best for your child, talk to their coach, trainer or a nutritionist.