The field of sports nutrition has evolved by leaps and bounds since the ancient days when Greeks merely required pounds of meat and liters of wine for strength and endurance when participating in the first Olympic Games. These days, more focus is put on the quantity and quality of food and liquid intake of an athlete, as well as the amount of vitamins and nutrients they need, particularly if they are engaged in strength sports like bodybuilding and weight lifting, and in endurance sports like running, swimming and cycling.
Because athletes need supplements to enhance their training and performance, many supplements sprang up from oblivion, making manufacturers a ton of money but with no real guarantee of results for the athletes themselves. Unfortunately, not all the supplements available in the market today are FDA-approved, nor are they recommended by qualified health experts or sports nutritionists. Before going ahead and buying any supplement, you need to do two things: check the label and consult a qualified physician on the potential side effects a supplement can have on your training.
Among the many supplements available, there are some that stand out as favorites among bodybuilders for their many benefits and fast-acting results. The first among these are protein supplements, which is important since these contain amino acids that perform a variety of functions in the body that are necessary for gaining muscle mass like strengthening the immune system and maintaining nitrogen balance for the repair and recovery of muscles post-workout. Protein in Greek, means “to take first place” which is something endurance athletes aim for all the time.
Another supplement that is popular with the bodybuilding crowd is the BCAAs or ones that contain the branched chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine. These supplements are best for those who often engage in endurance sports that last for more than 3 hours and also for those into aerobic activity as this enhances their metabolism. It keeps endurance athletes from getting tired easily and enables them to keep going on.
Muscle breakdown, compromised immune system and reduced athletic performance are often attributed to low plasma glutamine levels. To avoid this, athletes often take supplements that contain L-glutamine which make up for almost 60% of the total intramuscular free amino acid pool, which makes it the most abundant amino acid in the body. It is essential for athletes to take supplements with L-glutamine primarily because the body cannot produce enough of it during times of stress, like during intense training.
Soy protein supplements on the other hand, is best for vegetarians who are notoriously unable to complete their daily recommended allowance for protein since they don’t eat meat, chicken or fish. With this type of supplement, they are able to take advantage of the phytochemicals that promote health cholesterol levels, improve bone health and boost the immune system as well. At least half a gram of soy protein is recommended per pound of body weight for endurance athletes for optimum results.
And last but not the least, the list is rounded up with whey protein isolates, popular for its quick absorption rate especially during post-workout where it is needed most. Recent studies show that whey protein, when added to carbohydrate consumption, has been shown to reduce post-workout-induced creatine phosphokinase (CPK) levels, which is a common indicator of muscle damage by almost 83%. This is in comparison to athletes who consume only carbohydrates, indicating that whey protein can be considered a potential ergogenic aid for endurance athletes during their intensive training sessions.