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Supplements seem to the popular topic in many fitness related conversations.  Especially in the sports performance circles.  As we all know there is a GNC or Vitamin Shoppe on every corner these days.  In addition we see online companies such as Bodybuilding.com and Amazon.com pumping out supplement sales like crazy.  Put simply, everyone is looking for that edge.

THe question really should be, what supplements are truly effective?  We wanted to use this post to dive into 4 scientifically supported sports performance supplements.

CAFFEINE TO BOOST ENDURANCE AND FOCUS

Caffeine is a well known stimulant that can offer some awesome performance benefits.  Many studies suggest that when caffeine is consumed 30 mins prior to an exercise bout or sporting event, endurance and focus can be greatly enhanced.  It also seems that caffeine consumption can boost fat metabolism while helping to spare carbohydrates.   Finally there are some correlated studies with caffeine and muscle soreness.

Caffeine of course is dose dependent, and in many cases you do not need to overdo it.  Anywhere from 100mg – 300mg is a normal recommended dose for athletes.

Caffeine of course doesn’t come without a few down sides.  Keep in mind that you can overdo it, and those people suffering from high blood pressure should approach with caution.   Also, caffeine may have an addictive property to it and have an increased diuretic effect in some.

CREATINE FOR THOSE EXTRA FEW REPS 

Creatine Monohydrate may be one of the single most studied sports performance supplements out there.   Creatine has been proven to have an ergogenic effect when supplemented.   This means that your muscle may be able to hold more Creatine Phosphate when supplemented vs not.    This has a large added benefit to the weight lifter.   By increasing Creatine in skeletal muscle, it supplies ATP during the phosphogen system slightly longer.   This can allow for an extra few reps on the gym floor.

Creatine has been correlated with strength, endurance, and muscle mass gain.  There have been some reports of extra cellular water retention in some individuals.   Creatine for the most part has very limited negative side effects.

BRANCH CHAINED AMINO ACIDS FOR MUSCLE SPARING AND GROWTH

The 3 branched chained amino acids, Luecine Isoluecine and valine have been shown to play an important role in amino acid metabolism.   These 3 aminos can help with the reproduction of ATP via the kreb cycle and can also aid in Skeletal Muscle growth.   By supplementing with branch chained amino acids you may be helping to spare protein breakdown.

In addition cells seem to be extra sensitive to nutrient uptake during and after a training bout.  This increases the likely hood of you repairing damaged tissue or supporting muscle hypertrophy.

WHEY PROTEIN FOR BIGGER MUSCLES

Whey protein is a very popular sports performance supplement.  Whey is a dairy protein that has a very high bioavailable rating.  This means that it is considered a very high quality complete protein.  Complete meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids needed in our diet.

During training we can cause cellular muscle damage that is needing repair.  This repair comes in the form of protein / amino acids.  By getting enough protein in your diet daily, you are supporting the nutrient demand of your exercise bouts.  Whey protein is traditionally taken post workout due to its quick digestion.   The digestion rate and timing may or may not have much relevance BUT after hard training sessions your body does require protein.  Whey is a quick and easy way to assure you are hitting your daily protein requirements.

CLOSING THOUGHTS 

Supplements in some cases can boost sports performance.  With that being said, it is important to remember that supplements by definition are to supplement an already healthy diet and lifestyle.   So supplements should not be the priority, but instead and aid.

C.J. Woodruff, Founder / CEO The Fitness Trainer Academy Inc.

 

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