Food Supplements Learning Objectives To be able to explain the benefits and drawbacks of a range of legal food supplements
Creatine Phosphocreatine is important for rapid muscular contractions over a short period. Creatine supplements increases PC stores allowing for more energy to be supplied through the PC system. This allows for maximal performance for a longer period so that athletes can train harder. Possible drawbacks include water retention, vomiting, muscle cramps and diarrhoea.
Protein Supplements Protein is essential for growth and repair of muscles. There is no evidence to show that taking extra protein (above a normal balanced diet) benefits performance. Excess protein is dealt with by the kidneys and liver and these organs can be damaged over time. Bodybuilders often take protein supplements hoping to build muscle mass.
Herbal Remedies There are a wide range of herbal remedies that some athletes take for a variety of different reasons. Evidence of their benefits or dangers is inconclusive. Professional athletes must be careful that any of the ingredients within a herbal remedy does not include banned substances.
Caffeine Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, cola, chocolate etc. Research shows that caffeine can allow for greater aerobic performance by increasing the use of lipids (fats) to produce ATP (thereby saving glycogen stores). Caffeine increases mental alertness which can improve reactions in a sporting situation and improving performance levels. Drawbacks include a loss of fine control, anxiety, insomnia, and dehydration (as it’s a diuretic). Banned in some sports when taken in large quantities.
Bicarbonate of Soda Soda loading delays the onset of fatigue during anaerobic activity. Bicarbonate helps to buffer lactic acid and maintain a balanced pH level. This allows for increased activity levels before the lactate threshold and OBLA are reached. Drawbacks include stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea.
An Athlete’s Diet • In general athlete’s simply need to follow a balanced diet. • There is little evidence that any food supplements are beneficial to athletes. • Performers must ensure that they take on sufficient carbohydrates to meet their energy needs with a range of glycaemic index levels (the rate at which a food substance releases it’s energy).