Supplements

Supplements
Supplements

Nutritional and dietary supplements are marketed to athletes to improve performance, recovery time and  muscle-building capability. Many athletes use nutritional supplements despite the lack of proof of effectiveness. In addition, such substances are expensive and may potentially be harmful to health or performance.

Of greater concern is the lack of regulation and safety in the manufacture of dietary supplements. Most compounds obtained from specialty “nutrition” stores and mail-order businesses are not subject to the strict regulations set by the International Food and Drug Administration.

Therefore, the contents of many of these compounds are not represented accurately on the list of ingredients and may contain impurities or banned substances, which may cause an athlete to test positive. Positive drug-test appeals based on the claim that the athletes did not know the

substances they were taking contained banned drugs have not been successful. Athletes should be instructed to consult with the institution’s sports medicine staff before taking any nutritional supplement.

It is well known that a high-carbohydrate diet is associated with improved performance and enhanced ability to train. Carbohydrates in the form of glycogen are the body’s main fuel for high-intensity activity. A large number of athletes only consume 40 to 50 percent of their total calories from carbohydrates, versus the recommended 55 to 65 percent for most people. The lower end of the range should be ingested during regular training, the high end during intense training.

High-carbohydrate foods and beverages can provide the necessary amount of carbohydrates for the high caloric demand of most sports to optimize performance. Low-carbohydrate diets are not advantageous for athletes during intense training and could result in a significantly reduced ability to perform or train by the end of an intense week of training.

When the levels of carbohydrates are reduced, exercise intensity and length of activity decreases, and fatigue rapidly increases. A high-carbohydrate diet consisting of complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and whole grains, along with adequate protein, is the optimal diet for peak performance.

Protein and amino acid supplements are popular with bodybuilders and strength-training athletes. Although protein is needed to repair and build muscles after strenuous training, most studies have shown that athletes ingest a sufficient amount without supplements.

The recommended amount of protein in the diet should be 12 to 15 percent of total energy intake for all types of student-athletes. Athlete should consider eating a post-workout carbohydrate snack that contains protein within one hour of concluding that vigorous exercise session.

Although selected amino acid supplements are purported to increase the production of anabolic hormones, studies using manufacturer-recommended amounts have not found increases in growth hormone or muscle mass. Ingesting high amounts of single amino acids is contraindicated because they can affect the absorption of other essential amino acids, produce aversion, and/or impair kidney function and hydration status.

Young athletes are always looking for the big supplement to hit the market. However, they don’t always consider the effects it could potentially have on them.

These days when a bodybuilder, or any person for that matter, walks into a health food store they are bombarded with the countless amounts of supplements that plaster the walls. There are those for weight loss, muscle gain, immune system health, relaxation and for just about any other problem, desire or goal that an individual wishes to fix with a supplement. This is both a positive and a negative.

For those with a basic knowledge of supplements they are able to take advantage of the large market. However for those without this knowledge it is almost certain that they will either purchase a supplement that is not suited for them, that does little to help them, rips them off financially and may possibly even be doing them bodily harm.

For this reason it is important to know what supplements are both healthy and beneficial for your particular situation. This article is aimed at helping to provide knowledge for athletes looking to add supplements to their exercise and diet regimen.

The best supplements for athletes are those that produce results without doing damage to the body. It is also important to note that the supplements used by young athletes don’t have to only be beneficial for goals like muscle gain and weight loss.

While these are the two main goals that teens interested in bodybuilding will have in mind, it isn’t necessary to only look for protein powders and fat burners.

Supplements that help to improve overall health are just as if not more beneficial to a teen bodybuilder than those solely aimed at aesthetic goals. And with improved overall health, the aesthetic goals will become that much more achievable.

PROTEIN POWDERS

As an athlete, your body already requires more fuel simply due to the natural growth process experienced at this time in your life. Add the intense weight training and often times, sport specific activities and your protein requirement is much higher than that of a sedentary adult.

You should know that protein is the most important macronutrient. Carbs and fats can often be manipulated whether trying to lose or gain weight, yet protein always stays high. While you should already be consuming adequate protein from your diet, protein powders help greatly to ensure you reach that daily protein intake. Having protein in a liquid form allows for faster digestion, meaning you put a halt to the muscle breakdown occurring post workout, as well as sparking the recovery (and growth process).

ANTIOXIDANTS

Antioxidants – are the natural weapon against free radicals. They are found in many natural food sources, however there are also countless supplements that are now being produced. These include: garlic capsules, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, coenzyme Q-10, goji berries or juice.

Many processes of the body involve oxidation. Oxidation reactions can produce free radicals which cause damage to cells of the body. This damage can result in disease, immune strength decrease and other negative impacts on the body.

The optional time to take them would be directly after a workout as intense training produces free radicals.

MULTIVITAMIN or MINERAL

Just like athletes need more calories than a sedentary adult the same can be said about some particular micronutrients, vitamins and minerals.

Young athletes lack variety in the foods they eat, in particular the lack of vegetables in their diet. Accompany that with the increase in processed foods and the reduction of nutrients in the soil that the vegetables grow in and you can often find that as a teen, you may be low on some nutrients. Of course it would be best to start consuming more vegetables and eating a large variety of natural foods but for many that would be hard to swallow, literally. The easy option is to purchase a good multivitamin or minerals supplement.

CREATINE

There are no arguments about the athletic benefits of creatin use. It has been proven time and time again to provide benefits to anaerobic fitness, strength and power.  It is the most widely used supplement for those participating in power based sports.

There are many stories of side effects experienced from the use of creatine ranging from acne to kidney failure. However the consensus seems to be that you will only experience kidney troubles when using creatine if you are predisposed to these issues or you use excessive amounts.

For this reason I would advise you to have kidney tests done before starting creatine and a follow up a few weeks down the track. It sounds like a hassle but it really is the best option to ensure you are not predisposed to kidney problems. Once you get the all clear you won’t have to worry but if you do experience troubles then discontinue use immediately.

Usually if you already eat a lot of red meat you won’t respond too well to supplemental creatine, but on the other hand it is a fantastic supplement for vegetarians.

FISH OIL

Fish oil –  is very important to general well being. They provide Omega-3, which are essential to your diet. Too many people don’t completely understand the importance of these fats.

Omega-6 is present in red meat,  which means that most people consume more than enough Omega 6. However fish contains Omega 3 and the majority of people don’t consume enough fish. The ideal ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 is 1:1. Yet some people consume a ratio of up to 1:50! This is where fish oil comes in, balancing out that ratio and enabling optimal health.

Tips for choosing the best supplements:

The most obvious solution to this problem would be to ask a doctor or nutritionist to analyze your situation and provide you with recommendations on particular supplements. However you need to be careful when doing this.

Unfortunately some doctors do not understand the mindset of athletes who are looking for that edge. They can simply shrug it off claiming you’ll be better off without it. You need to find a doctor, nutritionist or another professional who has a sound knowledge of today’s supplements and understands what you are trying to achieve.

Another tip would be to utilize the internet in two ways. The first is to research the ingredients in the products. They often have complex names however simply typing them into a search engine will provide you with some information on what they do in the body when ingested.

The second suggestion is to read the product reviews. Find out what people experienced using the product and if they would recommend it. It only takes a few minutes. On another note, research the prices of the supplements so you don’t get ripped off.

Stick to tried and true supplements from companies that are well known. If you are buying a product from a lesser known company, make sure to do your homework!

References:

  • Ashwell, M., Bussell, G., Clasen, L., Egginton, J., Gibson, S., Govindji, A., McCleneghan, J., Wilcock, F., (2008), Vitamins, minerals and supplements, Bucuresti, Reader’s Digest;
  • Bjorn, N., (2016), Supplements: The Ultimate Supplement guide for Men: Health, Fitness, Bodybuilding, Muscle & Strength, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform;
  • Brewer, S., (2009), The Essential Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and Herbal Supplements, Constable & Robinson Ltd, UK;
  • Delavier, F., (2010), Strength Training Anatomy, 3’rd Edition, Human Kinetics;
  • Holford, P., (2000), Supplements for Superhealth: What to take and when to take them, Piatkus Books;
  • Mentzer, M., (2003), High-Intensity Training the Mike Mentzer Way, McGraw-Hill Education;
  • NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), (2013), 2013-14 NCAA Sports Medicine Handbook, USA;
  • Poliquin, C., (1997), The Poliquin Principles: Successful Methods for Strength and Mass Development, Dayton Pubns & Writers Group;
  • Rose, S., (2016), Vitamins & Minerals: How to get the nutrients your body needs, Bounty, UK;
  • Smith, M.A., Lovelady, S., (2014), Supplement Pyramid: How to build your personalized nutritional regimen, Basic Health Publications, USA.

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