You’ve just started working out (it’s January 3rd after all and those New Year resolutions don’t resolve themselves), you’re 18 and leaving the youth/junior sports ranks, you’re an accomplished athlete or professional who has reached the age where you need to educate yourself further on sport supplements to reach your potential. Having been through each of the above, I understand perfectly what it means to be at a crossroads and needing to self-educate. So, to simplify matters and give you a head start, BOSSNA™ asked the Kaprina LLC Advisory Board to give a short guide to sport supplements.
A Short Guide to Sports Supplements – Categories
When categorising this short guide to sport supplements our Advisory Board removed Fat Burning Supplements (L-Carnitine) and Health Support (Multivitamins) from the core group. Both are important, however we’ll address them a little later in this article.
The traditional core group is:
- Proteins and supplements for muscle gain
- Isotonic/Fluid replacement
So now it’s down to de-science the scientific and make it accessible for all.
Proteins and supplements for muscle gain
Even a short guide to sport supplements needs to begin with proteins. Proteins have grown from the pure bodybuilding section into mainstream must-haves. Anyone who is looking to build or maintain muscle, even healthy lifestyle users, having sufficient protein intake is extremely important. While a good diet plan can provide most of your 1.5-2g (per kg of body weight) per day, protein supplementation ensures you do not lose your gains. Whey Protein is most popular (the best being a Whey protein Concentrate-Isolate mix) as it is fast absorbing. Casein is generally recommended for pre-bedtime due to it’s slower release, while other forms of protein (Soy, Beef) have their place. Collagen or Hydrolyzed Proteins are most often utilised in ready-to-drink (RTD) formats and there is a growing understanding, and appreciation, of their worth in the fitness community.
In most circumstances protein is sold in dry, powder form. We caution always to read the label to ensure that no “amino spiking” a practice which many companies, including market leaders, engage in to claim their products have more protein than they actually do. Another muscle/strength supplement is the well known Creatine. Almost always in dry form, it is a good addition to anyone who wants to build muscle with explosive results. However the trick is to get your phases right. Before bringing creatine into your training plan, be sure to have balanced loading and top-up phases.
BCAA’s and Glutamine are also useful when looking to gain/maintain muscle. Most are sold as monocomponents to be added to a recovery shake, though tablet supplementation is very common.
Well Hello confusion. The Kaprina LLC Advisory Board had the hardest time with this category for our short guide to sport supplements. Confusion reigns when energy is mentioned with sports supplements. Do not confuse caffeine in sugary water with energy supplements. When I was managing athletes the hardest task I faced was weaning them off cans of store-bought “energy drinks” that were not just rotting their teeth and guts, they were destroying natural energy and recovery.
The category energy includes Pre-Workout powders, shots and drinks. Products that will give your body enough caffeine and carbohydrates, in the form of glycogen, so you can get through the toughest task. Generally it is more advisable to use products from this category as to eat solid, traditional carb-rich food can cause bloating, cramping or abdominal distress. In liquid form the glycogen can be absorbed quicker and effects felt sooner.
Quality energy supplements for sports will always have some additional ingredients to increase performance, focus and recovery. Beta Alanine, L Tyrosine and Arginine have all been proven to improve results from training and competition, and are found in more and more sport supplements. It is important to ensure your energy drink/powder has at least these 3 plus caffeine to ensure really good results.
If you exercise for an hour or more, or more than 30-45 minutes in hot and humid conditions, you will need to have a supplement which replaces both lost fluids and nutrients. One finding from a Croatian study in 2007 (with Rugby players) was that failure to hydrate sufficiently during training and matches led to performance drop-off and injuries. Of game-ending 7 muscle injuries received by players during matches, 5 were within the final 15 minutes of matches and 3 were cramp.
While Isotonic/Fluid replacement supplements are not necessary for many, a good Intra-Workout which has a healthy balance of BCAA’s and Glucose is important to prevent performance drop-off. Most important is that whatever you use, a powder or RTD, it must be tasty and effective. Make sure that if it is a powder that it mixes fast and stays mixed.
One common failing in Intra-Workout’s is the loading of minerals (electrolytes) into products. Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium and Potassium (the last 2 both in Chloride form) are important for maintaining physiological processes, however only through poor diet and extreme exertion do we need to replace these in the amounts some Intra-Workout supplements provide.
This all depends on your exercise and your goal. Here, for this short guide to sports supplements, the Kaprina LLC Advisory Board were unanimous in both defining and recommending best practice. Sport supplements for recovery are plentiful and advice is varied. However the definition is: products which are used immediately after training/exercise/matches/events which supply proteins (amino acids) and carbohydrates (muscle glycogen synthesis) to rebuild and replace muscle fibres which have been broken down. The vital time to do this is between 15-120 minutes following the end of the exercise. They recommend a 3 or 4 to 1 carb-protein ratio depending on your exertion and goal. Begin immediately with carbs, then after an hour take your protein.
Recovery supplements need to have a good combination of carbohydrates and proteins, though the quality of both is very important. A balance between good diet planning and the right protein supplement is often far better than an all-in-one recovery drink. BOSSNA™ found in athlete trials in November 2015 and again in a study in February-March 2016, that protein supplementation after workouts or exercise, in conjunction with a sensible, carb-rich meal, allowed each participant to recover easier than with standard recovery drinks.
In any case, a good recovery sports supplement will prove its worth after the first 2 weeks of use. They should not, as with any supplement, be taken instead of a proper diet and simply assist you in building and maintaining the body you know you can have. Even using all the products mentioned here in this short guide to sport supplements, you’ll lack some essentials.
As mentioned at the start, fat burning and health support supplements are mainstream and have to be included in our short guide to sport supplements. Fat burning supplements can be found in supermarkets, chemists, sports stores and petrol stations. L-carnitine is the most common and people use it to increase body temperature to burn fat. Even more than with other sport supplements, great care must be taken with such products as a person needs to know exactly how to use them and receive benefits.
Multivitamins and minerals are found everywhere and vary in levels of quality and effectiveness. Multivitamin tablets continue to be the most popular product, though powdered, soluble tablet and RTD are growing in market share. It is important to read the ingredients carefully and understand what your aim is. All-purpose multivitamins usually contain Vitamin C, E and a mix of B’s. For sports purposes, B Vitamins 6 and 12 are most useful, while a good % of Vitamin C is a good health booster.
Omega supplements and fish oils have been a constant in many people’s lives. From childhood I’d taken spoonfuls or capsules of Cod Liver Oil at regular intervals and have found the benefit in Winter. Collagen, HLS and other such supplements continue to provide secondary benefits for those with an active lifestyle, any product which can offer a balance of these with vitamins is always worth a second look.
And so we come to an end of the very short guide to sport supplements. We will address each area shortly with more depth and advice from the Kaprina LLC Advisory Board. Because here at BOSSNA™, providing better products and advice to give you better results is not just our job, it’s our passion. We appreciate your feedback and comment, so feel free to drop us a line at any time.