Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
If you are just getting into the world of sport you may have heard that supplements can help you improve your physical performance but you may not quite understand which one is most suitable for you and your sporting routine. In this post we will try to shed some light on some of these common doubts.
What is an athlete’s ideal routine?
To achieve a good sporting performance, you must follow a varied diet, keep good habits and be consistent. In addition, as a reinforcement, you can give your body an extra boost by taking nutritional supplements (also known as food supplements). These, together with other tips like the ones we are going to give you below, can be very helpful during your daily routine to improve your sporting performance.
- Stretch before doing sport: if you want to prevent injuries you should prepare your muscles before doing sport. In addition, stretching before starting your routine will improve your blood circulation and increase your flexibility.
- Train regularly: it is necessary to be physically active on a regular basis in order to improve athletic performance. Your training routine should be varied and include strength, endurance and flexibility exercises.
- Follow a balanced diet: an athlete’s diet should contain the correct proportion of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates depending on your needs. Remember that, although protein is important for muscle regeneration and maintaining muscle mass, over-consuming protein will not be beneficial for you as your body will not use the excess. Don’t forget to eat enough carbohydrates through grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. They are our main source of energy which is stored in your muscles in the form of glycogen. These muscle glycogen reserves are what we use when doing high-intensity, short-duration exercise.
- Rest properly: resting between training sessions is essential for the body to recover after exercising.
- Stay hydrated: while doing sport, we lose water through sweat and we dehydrate. To prevent this and improve our physical performance, it is essential that we stay hydrated. Drink enough water before, during and after exercising.
- Take food supplements: If, despite following these tips, you still feel you could improve your physical performance and subsequent recovery, opt to include food supplements in your daily routine. Athletes often have specific nutritional needs due to the high level of physical activity and stress their bodies experience during training. Food supplements can provide the nutrients athletes need to keep up their performance, recover properly after exercising and to avoid injuries.
|Did you know…?|
Muscle wasting that occurs when doing sport is a natural process that takes place when muscles are repeatedly contracted over a prolonged period of time. After a training session you may have noticed muscle soreness, but do you know what muscle soreness really is?
DOMS (or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) is the result of small muscle injuries and microtears in the muscle fibres that occur during intense exercise. These microtears cause an inflammatory response in the muscle, which can cause soreness, stiffness and sensitivity to movement. DOMS is a normal response of the body to exercise and usually goes away on its own depending on the person and the intensity of the exercise.
Which are the best supplements for athletes and how can they help you?
Food supplements for athletes include proteins, consisting of amino acids, fatty acids and minerals, which are essential for your body to function optimally and improve both performance and physical recovery. Supplements can help improve endurance, increase muscle mass, reduce fatigue and improve muscle recovery after exercise. Here are 6 of the top sports supplements:
Creatine is found naturally in our tissues, although we can also obtain it from animal protein, such as meat and fish, or from dairy products. Vegetarians or vegans cannot obtain creatine to the same extent as other people through their diet, so in these cases it is advisable to take creatine supplements.
Creatine is an amino acid widely used by athletes as it forms part of the protein group which is essential for muscle growth and repair, and for improving strength, power, and endurance. Taking this supplement if you are strength training, can help to increase the intensity and have a greater increase in muscle mass.
If your goal is to increase muscle mass this is one of the food supplements that will help you achieve this goal.
CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid)
Like creatine, CLA or conjugated linoleic acid is naturally present in foods such as meat and dairy products. It is therefore also a highly recommended supplement for vegetarians and vegans.
CLA is an essential fatty acid that stands out due to its effect on the loss of body fat and the increase of muscle mass. In addition, this supplement can be of great help to improve protein synthesis in the muscles and its anti-inflammatory function can help reduce muscle wasting and Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, in other words, muscle soreness. Thanks to this, we will achieve faster muscle recovery and an increase in our sports performance.
If your goal is to reduce body fat and build muscle, you can include CLA in your daily routine.
L-arginine is found in foods such as meat, fish, dairy products, nuts, and soya.
Studies have provided evidence that this amino acid has a major effect on improving blood flow. L-arginine increases the production of nitric oxide (a vasodilator substance) in your body, which increases the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, thereby enhancing athletic performance and muscle recovery.
If your goal is to achieve faster muscle recovery and reduce fatigue, you can include L-Arginine in your routine.
L-carnitine is found mainly in foods such as red meat, poultry and dairy products.
This amino acid has been proven to improve fat oxidation and its use as an energy source during exercise. This leads to a reduction in fat and an improvement in body composition. L-carnitine is produced by the muscles and is responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, thereby promoting muscle recovery by reducing inflammation. It also improves performance during endurance exercise, helping to reduce the build-up of lactic acid and therefore reducing muscle soreness.
If your goal is to increase your energy levels and reduce body fat, L-carnitine is an excellent choice.
Caffeine and epigallocatechins (EGCG) are powerful fat-burning activators. Their presence in this supplement activates brown adipose tissue, a type of fat that creates heat and burns fat from normal adipose tissue, making it an effective and safe thermogenic. Forskolin, on the other hand, activates fat breakdown into smaller fragments, making them easier to transport into the cells. Fut Burner also allows fat fragments to be transported into the cells’ mitochondria thanks to L-carnitine, where they are transformed into energy (lipotropic capacity).
If your goal, as well as burning fat efficiently, is to have more energy and endurance to train even longer, we suggest you take this supplement.
Magnesium is found in many foods, such as nuts, legumes, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables.
This mineral is essential for muscle function as it is essential for proper muscle contraction and relaxation, therefore reducing the risk of cramps and injuries. It also has the ability to reduce muscle fatigue during exercise by helping regulate energy production in muscle cells.
If your goal is to reduce the likelihood of cramps and strains due to exercise, this food supplement will be very helpful.
In the following table we show you how to use the supplements we have listed, which can be of great help while doing physical exercise and recovering from it afterwards:
|Increased sporting performance||Improved physical endurance||Promotes muscle mass gain||Decreases body fat||Improves recovery|
We also recommend taking glutathione or vitamin E, among others, due to their antioxidant function. Taking them will help protect muscle fibres against free radical damage (molecules that damage DNA and cells) and, at the same time, improve recovery after training.
To sum it up, at certain times and in certain circumstances, you may need supplements to meet your nutritional needs and ensure the proper functioning of your muscles when doing sport. Now that you know some of the most effective supplements to boost your athletic performance and muscle recovery, we invite you to choose the ones that best suit your needs and combine them to enhance their effects.