Supplements are products used to compliment your diet and therefore assist in meeting your daily requirements of nutrients. They should not be used to substitute natural foods. Supplements are taken when we do not meet our requirements through food alone.
The most common supplements used for active adults who exercise frequently or participate in athletic events are as follows:
These are products formulated to aid your workout regime. Let us look at some of the popular ingredients that are used in pre workout formulations and how they help us.
There is research to show that caffeine help increase the athlete’s power and/or duration of training in cardio activities that start from 60 seconds and go up to 2 hours. With endurance exercise, it is observed that intake of caffeine (5 mg/kg/Body Weight) and coffee (5 mg/kg/Body Weight) 1 hour before exercise can improve performance.
It is a non-essential amino acid but it elevates carnosine synthesis in the muscle that buffers which against H+ accumulation that is a result of high-intensity exercise. It may even help performance by acting as an antioxidant and/or increasing the sensitivity of calcium in contractile fibres. A study suggests that 4 to 6 g of beta-alanine for at least 2 to 4 weeks improves exercise performance. However, it is indicated that some may experience paraesthesia (tingling), which can be attenuated by using a lower divided dose of 1.6 g or using a formula that has sustained release.
Our body produces 1 g of creatine daily and non-vegetarian food options also contribute to creatine stores in the body. There is plenty of research on creatine monohydrate and its effects. Some of the primary benefits of creatine supplementation along with resistance training are increase in strength and muscle morphology along with fat free mass compared to resistance training alone. Creatine may benefit other forms of exercise too. Everyone may not respond in a similar manner to creatine supplementation, however, it is accepted that supplementation promotes quicker regeneration of adenosine triphosphate during high intensity exercises, helping in training adaptation and performance. Latest research suggests that 0.1 g/kg body weight of creatine along with resistance training facilitates adaptation even at the cellular level.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA):
BCAA is a group of essential amino acids, namely, leucine, isoleucine and valine. BCAA supplementation both before and after a workout promotes muscle protein synthesis and reducing muscle damage. It also helps regulate the immune system. A ratio of 2:1:1 of leucine to isoleucine and valine is found to be effective. Together these aminos get oxidised in the skeletal muscle, preventing muscle breakdown.
Citrulline malate is produced in the body in small amounts and supplementation with it has shown to improve performance by preventing lactic acid build up in working muscles. It also helps in relieving muscle soreness and enhancing the release of L-Arginine. In a study, 8 g dosage of citrulline malate was used to assess performance, which was measured in terms of repetitions to fatigue test. Such doses are effective for athletes that are undergoing an intensive regime that includes a high level of training. The only side effect observed in 14% of the participants was stomach discomfort.
2.5 g of betaine supplementation per day has shown to affect strength training performance. Betaine aids in the uptake of oxygen by muscles, thus enabling the individual to perform a higher count of sets. In this manner, it indirectly affects lean muscle mass.
While most consume pre-workout supplements interchangeably with intra workout supplements, during working it is the electrolyte balance that plays a crucial role. Your choice of an intra workout supplement should be based on your activity level (type of activity, the duration and intensity). There is no proven benefit of consuming fluids if your workout is less than 30 minutes.
When exercising for an extended period of time, dehydration can not only impair your exercise capacity but also pose as a risk factor to your health.
When we sweat, along with water we also lose electrolytes. Some of the electrolytes that are important during activity are sodium, glucose, potassium and chloride. Sodium can be present in the quantity of 20-30 meq/liter for an oral hydration beverage and at least 50 mmol (0.9%) of glucose. Potassium can be 5-10 meq per liter to account for the potassium lost during activity. Fructose may also be present as it helps in the absorption of potassium in the jejunum.
Most post workout supplements focus only on protein but below are some ingredients that enhance the benefits of consuming protein supplements.
Protein is the raw material that is the foundation for the architecture of our body. Proteins are made up of smaller units, the smallest one being the amino acid. The sequence in which these different amino acids come together, gives each protein its own unique identity and confers a functionality on it as well.
Providing sufficient protein to body is a must and here’s why:
- Proteins are a part of each and every cell in your body.
- They form the defence line of the body.
- They are the transport vehicles for the body.
- They are constituents of enzymes and hormones that maintain various functions in the body.
- It is also important for growth, repair and maintenance as organs, muscles; hair, skin etc. are all made of protein.
When proteins enter the digestive tract, they are broken down by enzymes to smaller units of amino acids. The amino acids that are digested are either absorbed in the small intestine or utilized by the gut bacteria. Amino acids that do not degrade in the small intestine are diverted through the portal vein for protein synthesis in skeletal muscles and other tissues.
It is for this reason that less protein intake would result in the following:
- Impaired muscle function
- Weak immunity
The recommended protein intake for a healthy adult who is not exercising is 0.8 g/kg body weight/day. Depending on the type of exercise, intensity and duration, the protein requirement could range from 1 g/kg body weight/day to 1.8 g/kg body weight/day.
A high protein intake (>2 g/kg body weight/day) over a prolonged period of time has been associated with the following issues:
- Digestive abnormalities such as dehydration, irritation, diarrhoea,
- Renal issues
- Liver complications
- Vascular problems
Therefore, the ideal quantity protein from high quality sources should be consumed.
Enzymes in the body help speed up reactions and also assist in digestion by breaking large molecules into smaller ones. Enzymes find their applications in a vast array of fields from brewing, textiles, cosmetics to medical applications.
In the body, enzymes are present throughout the gastrointestinal tract and these can be classified into three major groups:
- Proteases that convert proteins into peptides and further amino acids
- Fat is broken down by lipases
- Mylase acts on carbohydrates
When enzymes are absent or in lesser amounts than required, it can hinder the normal functions of the body. For instance, lactase deficiency in lactose intolerance causes diarrhoea, bloating and/or gas. Supplementation with enzymes can help overcome these kinds of health problems.
Bacteria are often thought of as harmful or germs that need to be gotten rid of, many of them help aid in the functioning of our systems.
The main supporting functions of probiotics in our body are as follows:
- Aid in digesting food
- Preventing the growth of undesired microorganisms
- Help in stimulating the immune response
- Produce vitamins
Probiotics include different type of microorganisms; however, the most common bacteria are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Researchers are even studying whether probiotics can assist in preventing or treating allergies, diarrhoea and digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome.
References for caffeine
References for ß-alanine
References for creatine
- Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update
[Accessed on 21 December 2017]
References for BCAA
- Branched-chain amino acid supplementation does not enhance athletic performance but affects muscle recovery and the immune system
[Accessed on 21 December 2017]
- Exercise Promotes BCAA Catabolism: Effects of BCAA Supplementation on Skeletal Muscle during Exercise
[Accessed on 21 December 2017]
References for Citruline Malate
- Citrulline malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance and relieves muscle soreness.
[Accessed on 27 December 2017]
References for Betaine
- Effects of betaine on body composition, performance, and homocysteine thiolactone
[Accessed on 29 December 2017]
References for Intra workout, Fluid and Electrolytes
References for Protein
References for Enzymes
References for Probiotics
- Probiotics: in depth
[Accessed on 19 December 2017]