I am often asked about supplements, if they are needed and what are the benefits.
Some supplements may have beneficial effects however no amount of supplementation will compensate for inadequate dietary intake.
When you are looking at supplements ask yourself 3 things-
1) How will the supplement benefit me? (Eg am I deficient, in any essential nutrients and will this supplement help or how will it help improve performance)
2). What physiological system does the supplement target, what does it do?
3) Is there any evidence it works? What does the research say? Does peer reviewed research demonstrate that the supplement does what the manufactures say? Don't just go along with what the big guy at the gym says, what the magazines tell you and don't just believe the manufactures.
The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) outlines several classifications of nutritional supplements that are often taken and are categorised into
• apparently effective and safe
• possible effective and safe
• to early to tell
• apparently ineffective or are dangerous
Here is a brief outline of supplements that are apparently effective-
APPARENTLY EFFECTIVE Include-
Convenient way to help meet protein targets and easily digestible. People who do not ingest enough protein in their diet MAY exhibit slower recovery and training adaptations
Helps regenerate, ATP during ATP-PCr dependant strength and power activity. Creatine has been reported to improve exercise capacity when performing high intensity, intermittent exercise such as multiple sets of weight lifting, repeated sprints, and/or exercise involving sprinting and jogging. ISSN view is it the most effective nutritional supplement available to athletes to increase high intensity exercise capacity and muscle mass during training is creatine monohydrate.
Helps improve CNS output. Also depends on individual tolerance.
Preventing dehydration during exercise is one of the keys of maintaining exercise performance.
Proposed benefit would increase work capacity and decrease time to fatigue. Beta Alanine helps buffer hydrogen ions and acidity during high lactate activity.
EAA (essential amino acids).-
Some studies have indicated that ingesting 3 to 6 g of EAA prior to and/or following exercise stimulates protein synthesis. (If getting adequate protein in the diet would be questioned if EAA supplementation would be needed).
POSSIBLY EFFECTIVE include-
TO EARLY TO TELL include-
SUPPLEMENTS WHICH ARE APPARENTLY INEFFECTIVE OR ARE DANGEROUS
As the pyramid in the picture depicts, look to get calories right for goal as main priority, then macronutrients and fibre, then micro nutrients and water, meal timing and frequency then look at supplementation on a needs analysis basis.
So look at total calories, dietary diversity and are you getting plenty of fruit and veg. If not getting enough diversity in the diet, it maybe worth supplementing with multi vitamin, fish oil, and protein supplements. They can help if missing specific nutrients.
From there look at other supplements that may be taken that can target a specific physiological system that needs to be targeted/optimised to help aid performance and no need to waste time and money on supplements which are ineffective or not needed.
Jamie Miller Personal Training