What about supplements?

Protein makes up approximately 45% of the tissues that are found in the human body, and is made up of 20 amino acids of which 9 are essential (and cant be made by the body) the other 11 are non-essential, and can be made by the body. So of course you want to ensure your body has enough protein, because it plays an important role in athletic performance by assisting to move oxygen to working muscles. And sometimes during intense aerobic sports, amino acids may be used to help supply energy (up to 15%) But most people take protein powder to help build lean muscle mass, because protein, which are amino acids, are the building blocks of the human body. When first training your body most likely will experience protein loss, but the requirements return to normal after 4-15 days, and training can increase the efficiency of protein utilization by your body. Also scientific research seems to support both claims that enhanced protein intake does increase the rate and amount of muscle growth, and there is also findings that increased protein intake does not increase the rate and amount of growth. Research also is finding that in order to maintain a positive protein balance (excess protein in the body) more than the recommended daily allowance of protein is required. The RDA for protein intake for the avg. person is 0.8/kg/day. The value may not be adequate for those who are physically active on a regular basis. Physically active people may require a increased protein to maintain a positive protein balance. So depending on what works the best for you, making the decision to use a protein supplement is your personal choice, if you are eating a proper diet, you are most likely meeting your protein intake requirements.

Vitamins are complex organic compounds existing in small amounts in the food you eat. They are biochemicals your body needs in small amounts in order to be healthy and perform at your best athletically. Vitamins are called essential because your body cannot synthesize them (make them). If you are eating a well balanced diet, you body should be getting all the vitamins it needs, however if you are not eating the greatest or cannot eat properly (according to the Canadian food guide) you might just not be getting the vitamins your body needs, and taking certain vitamins or a multi-vitamin depending on what your doctor says, might just be beneficial for you and for your athletic performance in the gym.

Iron is a component of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin transports oxygen from the lungs to the working muscles. Are you getting the adequate amount of iron in your diet? If not, or have an iron deficiency, this could cause your body to have a poor ability in transporting that oxygen your muscles require, this will cause a decrease in energy production, and that will directly affect your aerobic performance and will slow you down. In some athletes, scientists have found that getting iron from the food that they eat is not enough, and this is referred to as a condition called sports-induced anemia. Vegetarian athletes are also at a high risk of getting this condition if they are not consuming the iron the body requires in another form. Ask your doctor if your iron levels are good the next time you get blood work if you want to know.

Creatine is said to increase lean tissue, give gains in strength, decrease your down time, and help with your fast-twitch muscle fibers giving you explosive power. It has not been recommended for endurance athletes. Creatine phosphate (CP) is used by one of the systems your body uses to make energy, so increasing your CP theoretically, would allow your muscles to do more work at higher intensities. One gram of high grade CP is equivalent to eating one pound of read meat, Research suggests the most effective way to use CP is loading 20 grams for 6 days and then maintain using a level of 2 grams per day. The long-term side effects are still not known, but personal experience indicates it may cause muscle cramping. Use this product with care and at your own risk. Creatine will only work with some people, so if you don't experience any changes in the first 2 to 4 weeks, chances are this product will not work for you.

Next week I will finish this article and cover Growth Hormone, Omega-3 Fatty acids, Chromium and Steroids.

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