October 29th, 2009
by Jodi · Filed Under: Nutrition
Adding supplements to your daily regimen while worthwhile can be expensive and a shot in the dark if you are not sure what you are doing. Try not to add in every supplement you read about in your favorite monthly magazines. I find athletes are privy to fake food supplements more than pills and dieters are more likely to pop a pill than select a drink. Before you decide to put any of these things in your diet, know why you are doing it and how you should put them in to be safe.
The Fabulous Four:
Although you may hear that you can get all you need from your food that is pure fiction. You would have to eat the broad side of a barn to get enough vitamins in a multi and that’s not very comfortable. As an athlete, you need more than the general public in terms of nutrients so find a high quality, USP certified multivitamin to add into your regimen.
Can’t say enough about fish oil capsules. Buying a good one goes a long way towards avoiding the burps and such, so look for pharmaceutical grade quality and it should be 3rd party tested. Besides making you more insulin sensitive, fish oils help boost your memory, soften your skin and shine up your hair. They are invaluable but not the same as good fat so don’t try to sub one for the other.
The ultimate fat burner is a definite must in your diet. Better taken throughout the day than in one big lump, calcium’s primary role is an obvious one with bone health but not so obvious with the other roles it plays in your body. Flexing muscles, aiding in blood clotting and moving nutrients in and out of cells are other benefits from having enough calcium in your diet. Since it is not readily absorbed, make sure your supplement has Vitamin D in it to get all the benefits.
Branched chain amino acids are by far one of the most essential nutrients in an athlete’s diet when it comes to performance. Leucine, Isoleucine and valine are the amino acids that make up the trio but it’s leucine that’s causing all the hype. Known to enhance performance in endurance athletes and provide muscle back up for strength athletes, leucine and the other 2 keep the Energizer bunny going long after the energy is gone.
Worth it? YES
Backed in studies? Yes
Benefits: Athletic performance, increased strength, increased hypertrophy, less muscle soreness, etc.
Downfalls: Water retention…if you think Willy Wonka with the Oompas you are on the right path…
Worth it? As a pick me up, yes. Fat burner? No
Backed in studies: Yes, but for certain things. Do your homework here.
Benefits: Get up and go, improved athletic performance, some weight loss benefit
Downfalls: There can be many. When taken in moderation like coffee, not much. If you decide to venture into the world of designer coffees and energy drinks, know what you are taking before you start.
Worth it? Yes if you can afford it. No if you cannot.
Backed in studies: Yes, but very few correlate directly with exercise.
Benefits: Increased immunity. Taking it keeps you from depleting your own.
Downfalls: You could be increasing the value of your urine and that’s about it. Very hard to prove it is “working”.
Worth it? Only if you are deficient
Backed in studies: Not as far as I can see…
Benefits: Supposed to increase fat burning
Downfalls: No reported health risks other than what happens to your wallet.
There are many more that I could go on and on with but I am saving that for when I do the series on vitamins and ergogenic aids. I have not covered any of the performance enhancing supplements or the latest in goos/gels/powders and drinks. When I do, I will go a bit more into detail and how they are taken. In the mean time, think about the fab four, run it by your doc and then get to improving your performance immediately!