The Highland Games are unique in the sense that they are basically a throwing sport, such as discus, shot put, hammer, and javelin, just using different implements such as the caber, stone, and traditional hammer. Oh and instead of wearing shorts you have to wear a kilt; let’s not forget that as well. So if you want to be a successful Highland Games competitor, what supplements should you be taking? Let’s break it down.
The Must Haves: Protein and Creatine
Trying to become a successful strength and power athlete without supplementing with protein and creatine is like being a rally car driver in a normal, stock, unmodified Subaru. Possible but definitely not the best idea. Think of it like this: your strength comes from your muscles which are made of amino acids. Proteins are also made of amino acids and it is a known fact that protein reduces muscle tissue breakdown and increases synthesis. And if you time your protein intake around your strength workouts, a practice known as nutrient timing, it is even more effective.
For Highland Games competitors, the recommended minimum daily protein intake is 2g/kg of bodyweight. And since Highland Games competitors tend to be in the 90kg+ range; we are looking at over 180g of protein daily. While it is possible to get your entire daily protein intake entirely from whole food sources, that can get pretty cost prohibitive which is why protein supplementation is basically a given. Get yourself a good but cheap whey protein powder brand and you’ll never have to worry about meeting your daily protein intake requirements again.
Are you worried that that’s too much protein? Perhaps you might have read that the body can only synthesize about 30g of protein per meal, and since a Highland Games athlete’s typical meal usually contains far more than 30g of protein per meal, is that additional protein wasted? While it is true that the amount of protein synthesis tops out at about 30g per sitting, any additional protein helps prevent muscle breakdown, so it is still valuable. So don’t worry about chugging those whey protein shakes throughout the day!
Creatine, despite what your grandmother warned you about, is absolutely nothing like steroids. In fact, creatine is naturally found in foods, particularly red meat, however most people get an insufficient amount in their diet. Plus, eating large quantities of red meat daily is not the best choice for your cardiovascular health. Creatine basically increases the ATP storage in your muscles; ATP is basically the battery of your muscles. Creatine does this by drawing additional water into your muscles which is why athletes who begin creatine supplementation typically notice weight gain. Creatine is also one of the most highly researched supplements and there is no dispute as to its effectiveness for increasing strength.
The Anti-Inflammatory: Fish Oil
Fish oil is vastly underrated as a supplement; in fact, I consider it to be equally as important as protein and creatine, however I didn’t put it under the ‘must haves’ section because it does not directly contribute to muscular growth or power; nevertheless it is no less essential. Heavy strength training has a high inflammatory effect on the joints and thus consuming high amounts of fish oil on a daily basis is vital for recovery purposes. Fish oil is basically and Omega-3 fatty acid and since the typical Western diet is already heavy in Omega-6 acids (such as from eggs, which strength athletes tend to consume a large amount of), fish oil helps balance the ratio out. Of course, if you eat a lot of fish, fish oil supplementation may not be necessary
How much fish oil should a Highland Games competitor consume daily? Well if you look at the label on your fish oil bottle you would notice two ingredient: EPA and DHA typically in a 3:2 ratio. One standard fish oil capsules typically contains 180mg EPA and 120mg DHA. On a daily basis aim for about 2g of EPA and 1.5g of DHA, or about 10 standard sized capsules. Yes, quite a bit more than the average person. To make things easier, look for fish oil brands with 3x or 4x strength.
If you are looking to be a Highland Games athlete or any sort of serious athlete at all (not even necessarily a strength athlete, it could be mixed sports like Scottish Backhold wrestling too), then you would be only cheating yourself if you do not supplement with the Holy Trinity of whey protein, creatine, and fish oil.