The quality of the food we consume affects to a great extent our athletic performance and specific dietary/nutritional deficiencies seem to affect an athlete’s performance in a negative way, such as in the case of iron (ferritin) deficiency. Under the imminent fear of dietary deficiency, nutritional supplements gained popularity in the field of competitive sports which adopted the logic of overcompensating on a valuable nutritional ingredient compared to running the risk of lacking that important nutrient.
When we say that something is a “nutritional supplement” we usually mean each and every supplement that gives the body nutrients that would have been a part of their diet anyway (albeit in smaller dosages) through the foods they eat.
However dietary supplements are not enough to sustain a person, they are basically what the word says, they act as a supplement to an athlete’s dietary needs and cannot by any means replace a balanced diet; they can only enhance and improve on it.
It is also important to keep in mind that most of the time supplements are not needed and a balanced nutritional plan is more than enough to cover an athlete’s intake needs of foods that are high in nutrients. Also, it is important to consult your physician or dietitian before you buy any kind of nutritional supplement.
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Let’s take a quick look at the most popular dietary supplements in the sports industry.
Protein is one of three macro nutritional ingredients that give the body energy and at the same time, it is a great building factor of the body. A person muscle tissue is made up of water and protein which explains why a person who works out vigorously or generally anyone who is trying to build their body’s muscle mass is in greater need of protein compared to the general public.[bctt tweet=”A person muscle tissue is made up of water and protein” username=”verticalwise”]
Creatine is a molecule that is produced naturally by our own body and its main role is to supply the body with energy. Apart from this endogenous production of creatine, the human body has the ability to consume creatine through food, mainly from meat, fish and eggs, albeit in portions that are smaller than the usual percentage that is used in nutritional supplements. Creatine is consumed occasionally by athletes that want to improve their performance in high impact sports or to increase their body mass. Creatine is one of the most well-documented nutritional supplements and is considered to be generally safe.
Arginine is an important amino acid that is consumed through one’s daily diet. Arginine along with Citrulline (which can be converted into Arginine inside the body), produce nitric oxide, which is a well-known vasodilator substance. These substances are being used ever more often by athletes since they produce nitric oxide and thus increase blood flow in the body which is considered to facilitate athletic performance. Contrary to the above many studies has not shown any proof of improved athletic performance while using Arginine supplements or an increase in nitric oxide levels in the body. More authoritative studies on this topic are anticipated.[bctt tweet=”it is important to consult your physician or dietitian before you buy any kind of nutritional supplement.” username=”verticalwise”]
Just like Arginine, Glutamine is an amino acid that can be found mainly in meat, milk and eggs. Glutamine supplements are often given to patients that are suffering from illnesses that degrade muscle mass or patients with open wounds or burns. In the past couple of years, it has been widely used by athletes as it is considered to be capable of decreasing muscle trauma after very intense workouts. However this assertion is still under speculation.
Branched-Chain Amino acid Supplements (BCAA’S)
Branched Chain Amino Acids are made up of 3 amino acids Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. These kind of supplements are widely used by athletes as they are considered capable of preventing physical exhaustion during a workout or sporting event. At the same time, they can help maintain muscle mass especially in people that have a protein deficit diet. Of course, more studies are needed to fully understand and document the impact that BCAA’s have on our bodies.
Beta- Alanine Supplements
Beta-Alanine is a naturally occurring amino acid and is a modification of the amino acid Alanine that can be found extensively in our daily diet. Studies have shown that the aforementioned substance has been linked to an increase in muscle endurance. There are also various indications that the supplemental intake of b-alanine can improve performance in aerobic activities of medium to high impact such as rowing and sprinting.
Fish oil supplements
Omega-3 fatty acids have highly beneficial health properties for the human body. Briefly, Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the concentration of triglycerides in the blood, appease the symptoms of depression, reduce an existing inflammation, possibly help improve vision and also have antiarrhythmic properties. Athletes use Omega-3 fatty acid supplements mainly as a way to protect their bodies from inflammation that is a risk during training and also in order to decrease the deterioration of muscle tissue.
Despite the fact that there are studies that support the aforementioned benefits of omega-3 fatty acids there isn’t enough substantial evidence to link omega-3 fatty acids with improved athletic performance. Whether you work out or not make sure to consume substantial amounts of omega-3 fatty acids through your diet by cooking at least 2 to 3 times a week fish high in fatty acids or you can also incorporate into your daily regime vegetable based sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as flaxseeds and walnuts.[bctt tweet=”Whether you work out or not make sure to consume substantial amounts of omega-3 fatty acids through your diet” username=”verticalwise”]
Lipodialites (fat burner supplements)
The term Lipodialites refers to generally any substance that aims to burn fat in the body. This can occur either by increasing a person’s metabolism, i.e the energy one needs throughout the day, or by the percentage increase of the amount of body fat that is needed to cover a person’s daily energy needs. Most substances that are referred to as lipodialites usually act directly on the body’s fat deposits or through substances such as caffeine they trigger hormones such as adrenaline and increase their production in the body. Most fat burning substances that are in the market are a mix of various chemical substances that have these kind of effects on the body. Despite the fact that these types of supplements are very popular their efficacy is quite questionable and is not supported by a great number of studies.
Caffeine / Catechins
Caffeine and Catechins are two of the most commonly used ingredients in fat burning supplements. Caffeine can be found in a great array of foods such as coffee, tea, chocolate and cola drinks, whilst Catechins are found mainly in tea.
There are some studies that support that Caffeine is a very efficient fat burner. It increases the production of adrenaline in the blood stream and is also effective as a stamina enhancing supplement. The truth of the matter is that the human body can easily grow accustomed to caffeine thus decreasing its effectiveness in the long term.
On the other hand, Catechins have great antioxidant properties which are most probably quite good for your health. As far as their fat burning properties are concerned there are some studies that have shown a decrease in body fat or an increase in the oxidization of body fat in people who consumed catechins. However, the correlation between the use of catechins and a decrease in body fat seems to be weak and not sufficient enough to support the use of Catechin supplements for fat loss.
If you are into Aerial sports or Pole dancing, check out our article here on recommended usage of nutritional supplements.
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