Published on February 17th, 2021
Nutritional supplements cannot replace proper diet and training. However, an increasing number of athletes are taking these boosters for many reasons, primarily as a performance-enhancer.
Working out can put extreme stress to the body. Athletic training typically leads to tiredness, muscle stiffness, and extreme pain.
While you should prioritize a proper diet and nutrition, you may also take supplements in the form of pills and powder—which can be dissolved in milk, water and other liquids—to replace electrolytes and essential nutrients used up or lost during exercise through the exertion or from byproducts like sweat.
These supplements can ensure that you are definitely recuperating the vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy living as well as effective training.
Why are Sports Supplements Important to Athletes?
These products are primarily taken by individuals who are engaged in heavy training and workouts, and those preparing for sports competitions.
Most enhancers are made from organic protein powders and are considered dietary supplements.
These supplements—ideally—don’t contain substances that are harmful to the body, but you should be sure to research any product you are considering as there are some more dubious brands on the market.
The Benefit of Using Supplements
As with any other supplements, it’s best to consult and discuss with your healthcare provider before taking any new product.
Supplements Give You Protein Boost
Compared to the average person, athletes need to consume more protein—an estimated 1.2–2.0 grams per kilogram of their bodyweight.
Incorporating this amount of protein into your diet can be a challenge to most, especially if you live on a plant-based diet—plant-based protein tends to be harder for the body to absorb and contains a lower amount of protein compared to its animal counterparts.
Individuals who eat protein-rich meat can consume large servings of steak, salmon, and supplement protein augmentation with whey protein.
Whey protein is one of the main components of milk, and it’s highly absorbed by the body. It’s a combination of beta-lactoglobulin, alpha lactalbumin, bovine serum albumin, and immunoglobins.
When complemented with resistance exercise, whey protein can help enhance muscle protein synthesis and promote the growth of lean tissue mass.
Supplements May Help Increase Muscle Mass
Proteins are the building blocks of our body, especially the muscles. Protein supplements augment the body’s capacity to build muscles in the event of weight loss.
Maintaining proper diet, even if you’re loading up on carbohydrates, can still result in weight loss among individuals engaged in strength training or other vigorous physical activities. Dieting and the resulting weight reduction can cause a 20–30% reduction in muscle mass.
A decrease in muscle mass results in loosened skin. If you want your skin to stay firm, it’s best to enhance your diet with protein powder or capsules.
Supplements such as MK 677 provide the essential nutrient base to the body, generating much-needed amino acids for constructing and repairing muscle tissue.
A nutrient called creatine can help boost your ability to gain muscle, increase strength, and boost workout performance—especially when combined with a solid strength training routine.
In choosing a good supplement, look for creatine monohydrate—the most effective, yet also the most budget-friendly option. Aside from creatine, other forms of muscle-building supplements include; essential amino acids (EAA), protein, and weight gain powders.
Supplements Enhance Physical Performance
Athletes need an improved physical performance because of their training demands. One of the more natural ways to achieve this is to load up on healthy carbohydrates such as oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and beet roots, among many others.
Getting enough sleep can also help enhance athletic performance, as does sufficient water consumption.
Sports enthusiasts who still feel the need for an additional pick-me-up may take supplements to achieve their athletic goals. Apart from carbs, supplements that contain the following compounds are your best friends:
- Sodium phosphate
- Sodium bicarbonate
Supplement makers claim that consuming creatine and similar form of supplements helps prevent muscles from getting tired during workouts. In principle, they enable an athlete to perform more intense workouts for a longer period.
Some energy drinks also claim to boost energy, but these claims are not conclusive, so practice caution in taking them. Don’t forget to check out these fitness myths to know which activities can do you good and which ones you’ll want to skip.
Supplements Can Replenish Electrolytes and Other Lost Minerals
When we sweat during workout, we not only lose fluids but electrolytes as well. The body needs electrolytes in order to survive, and they’re mainly composed of various minerals, including calcium, sodium, and potassium.
Water on its own does not contain these minerals—that’s why supplementation is crucial in replenishing lost minerals contained in electrolytes.
If left unattended, a person who has lost great amounts of electrolytes during physical activities can suffer from headaches, fatigue, cramping, nausea, and blood pressure issues.
Supplements may come in the form of sports drinks and tablets, concentrates, powder, and hydrating fruits.
Supplements Facilitate Faster Recovery and Healing
As earlier mentioned, protein is an essential nutrient for muscle growth and recovery. Increasing protein supplementation can help your body recover from injuries and inflammation, following grueling physical activities.
High protein reserves in your body translates to increased capacity to facilitate quicker muscle recovery and growth.
During digestion, proteins are broken down by dietary enzymes.
They’re then converted into amino acids, a critical element for promoting nutrient repair. Apart from the said benefit, amino acids are likewise seen as necessary nutrients for athletes to keep fit, strong and energized.
Amino acids are not the only supplements known to help assist in the quick recovery of the body after a vigorous activity. The supplements below are also essential in muscle recovery and healing:
- Zinc magnesium aspartate (ZMA): Comprised of vitamin B6, zinc, and magnesium, ZMA is a supplement popular among bodybuilders, fitness enthusiasts, and athletes. Users and makers of this supplement claim that it boosts muscle growth and strength, as well as improves endurance, recovery, and quality of sleep.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Offers a host of health benefits including eye health, mood regulation, and reduced risk of heart disease. In athletes, it is believed to help minimize the inflammatory effect caused by intense training. These supplements are said to decrease muscle soreness as an aftermath of exercising.
What Are The Most Common Supplements Taken By Athletes?
- Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA): Composed of leucine, isoleucine and valine, these supplements are said to help increase muscle size and strength when complemented by a weight training program.
- B Vitamins: Thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, B12, and folate are believed to improve athletic performance.
Caffeine: Aside from keeping you alert and active, athletes have been taking caffeine-filled supplements to enhance endurance.
- Creatine: Runners, lifters, and strength trainers have been taking creatine supplements for several years. Its main benefits include providing optimum strength and performance during exercise.
- Hydration and Sports Drinks: Hydration and replenishment of lost electrolytes are essential in maintaining athletic performance. Gym enthusiasts and veteran athletes always have with them sports drinks and hydration beverages to keep going.
- Whey Protein: Both athletes and health- conscious individuals are taking protein powder to supplement their need for this essential nutrient. Protein is essential in muscle growth, repair and development, critical to athletes who are subjected to daily physical challenges.
In taking supplements, individuals should ensure that the product is proven safe and effective. Apart from creatine, BCAA, and fish oils, other forms of supplements need more studies to establish efficacy.
Doing your homework will allow you to make an informed decision when choosing the right supplements for your routine and needs.