Sports supplements are commonly used by athletes, bodybuilders, and other professional sportspeople. In fact, it’s estimated that around half of all athletes use some type of supplement to enhance their performance. But what is in these supplements, what do they do, and how can they benefit the body?
While there are many different supplements that can be associated with improved sports performance, such as whey protein, raspberry ketones, and even green tea, sports supplements generally fall into one of three distinct categories: creatine, amino acids, and multivitamins with a range of ingredients.
Creatine: This is a natural acid that helps to direct energy to where it’s needed during exercise – the brain, and the muscles. Creatine is shown to improve exercise endurance, and speed up muscle repair.
Amino Acids: These work in many different ways; they prevent tiredness, ensure the body uses fuel efficiently, and increase pain tolerance. Tryptophan, glutamine, and arginine are common amino acids.
Sports Supplements: Multivitamins for athletes include a wide range of beneficial vitamins and minerals. Many will include Vitamin D, which supports muscle growth, and collagen for elasticity and flexibility.
Sports supplements can also include vitamins and minerals that are great for post-workout health. Magnesium is useful for recovery, while the anti-inflammatory properties of cod liver oil ease damage. These supplements may work best when taken during what some researchers are calling the ‘anabolic window of opportunity’; usually 2-3 hours following a workout, although the exact timing is debated.
The great news is that sports supplements are generally considered to be very safe to use, particularly if you’re otherwise fit and healthy. However, amino acids have sometimes been shown to affect protein metabolism in the body, so it’s important to stick to the recommended doses for best results.