The medical perspective on training supplements
What is a Supplement?
A supplement is something added to the diet, typically to make up for a nutritional deficiency. Ideally, it should be used in addition to well-balanced nutrition. Supplements include the following:
- Amino Acids
- Other Botanicals
One of the most common supplements used are Protein Supplements.
Protein is a necessary nutrient that everyone needs to function properly. Both athletes and sedentary individuals need to get adequate protein. Athletes may find the following information helpful when considering whether or not to take protein supplementation:
- Protein supplements typically are in the form of powders, shakes or bars. They commonly contain 20-30 grams (g) of protein per serving, which is similar to the amount contained in 85 -110 g of chicken breast.
- Peanuts, almonds and cashews all contain over 20 g protein per 100 g serving.
- Traditional yogurt has 7 g protein/170g serving, while Greek yogurt provides 17 g and cottage cheese has 21 g.
For some athletes, creatine supplementation improves repeated bouts of high-intensity exercise, such as sprinting, weight lifting or power sports. Before considering a creatinine supplement you should know that:
- Creatine is stored in skeletal muscle and helps replenish adenosine triphosphate during maximal effort activities of short duration.
- The body requires about 1 g ingested creatine/day, which can be found in 2-3 servings of meat or fish.
The overwhelming majority of initial claims by supplement manufacturers regarding muscle-building, weight loss or performance enhancement are exaggerated after further investigation.
There are only a few well-controlled studies to support supplements. Many studies don’t take full account of the subjects’ diets, so it’s hard to know whether a benefit really comes from a supplement.
Talk with your doctors about all of the vitamins or supplements you are taking. The discussion can help your doctors understand your preferences and to develop a treatment or nutritional plan. Also, it should be emphasized that some drugs and supplements don’t go well together. Ginkgo biloba and Vitamin E, for example, can cause bleeding and shouldn’t be taken with blood thinners or aspirin.
Adherence to fundamental principles of training, rest and nutrition remains the best way for patients to achieve healthy fitness and appearance-related goals.