ABC Of Sports Supplements: Which Supplements Should I Use When Training?

ABC Of Sports Supplements: Which Supplements Should I Use When Training?

Anyone who exercises regularly may have come across a variety of products promising to improve performance, increase muscle gain, burn more calories and give extra energy during training, among other benefits. However, the big question is: do these products really deliver what they promise? In this blog post we will talk about how these substances should be used and the necessary care one should take when consuming these sports supplements.

Experts are unanimous in stating that monitoring nutrition is essential and that the most important element in the search for a healthy body is regular physical activity and the adoption of a balanced and diverse diet.

Sports Supplement: Whey Protein

Whey Protein is made with whey and is a great option for increasing your protein intake. “This is because it is rich in protein of high biological value, which means that it has molecules that are important for the body, but that it cannot produce on its own”, explains sports doctors and physiatrists. This supplement is used to gain, maintain and recover muscle mass and to provide satiety.

When to consume?

It is very welcome after exercise when it is not possible to eat meals with the recommended amount of protein, between meals or at night. It's not wrong to use it as a pre-workout, but it can weigh on your stomach during a workout and still not offer the expected benefits. According to experts, its role, which is to build and repair muscles, brings better results when consumed after the muscles have been worked.

How much to consume?

The dose must be individualized according to each person's routine and needs, taking into account their diet as a whole, their sporting modality, the amount and intensity of training. “In general, the recommendation for those who exercise varies between 1.2 and 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, but athletes with a high training volume and who seek to improve their sports performance can use higher amounts”, say nutritionists of the sports segment.

Nutritionists emphasise that, in addition to quantity, it is important that Whey Protein intake is distributed throughout the day, every 3 or 4 hours.

Care and Contraindications

The decision to use a protein supplement should be made after considering several factors, such as the individual's goals, lifestyle, general diet and daily energy needs, among others. Furthermore, it is important to highlight that supplements should not replace foods that are a natural source of this substance.

Whey may still contain allergens that some people need to avoid, such as nuts, soy, milk and chemical compounds. Therefore, the guideline is to opt for products from trusted brands. Those who are lactose intolerant should use those that are hydrolyzed or those that contain information on the label that they are suitable for this audience.

Sports Supplement: Creatine

Like Whey Protein, creatine is consumed in powder form. It is a compound found naturally in muscles and also present in the diet, mainly through meat and fish. Creatine provides the body with energy to support short, high-intensity exercises such as sprints, heavier weight training sets and sports that involve repeated high-intensity efforts, such as racket sports, for example.

In supplement form, it increases and improves the performance of this compound in the body. Furthermore, it increases water retention, which favors an increase in muscle mass, which is great for those who train with the aim of obtaining hypertrophy (increased muscles).

Creatine also increases muscle strength and endurance, improves performance during training and assists in recovery, including after periods in which the muscle remains idle for a long time and after injuries, for example.

There are several studies that have shown that the supplement also increases the concentration of this component at the brain level, providing several benefits, such as improving cognitive function, which is also important in physical activities.

When to consume?

It should preferably be ingested with a carbohydrate-rich food so that its absorption is better. The time of day may vary depending on personal preferences and training schedule. But it is important to be clear that creatine does not work as a pre-workout, it improves performance through long-term use.

How much to consume?

According to nutritionists, the recommended initial dosage for the saturation phase to speed up results is generally around 20 grams per day, divided into four doses of 5 grams, for 5 to 7 days. After this initial phase, the maintenance dosage is about 3 to 5 grams per day.

“However, the saturation phase is not essential and you can start directly with the maintenance dosage”, says the nutritionist.

“The amount of supplement will depend on how long you want the results. For those who have been doing bodybuilding for a long time, you can use 5 grams for saturation to be gradual, but if you have a competition in 30 days, for example, you will need this saturation to be faster”, says nutritionists.

Care and Contraindications

According to studies, creatine is safe and poses no risks to the body when used as directed and with the appropriate dosage. However, pregnant women, nursing mothers, teenagers and children should only consume it under medical supervision. Furthermore, it is important to maintain adequate fluid intake during the supplementation period.

Sports Supplement: Beta-Alanine

Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid, which means that the body can produce it on its own, without necessarily depending on food. It is sold in powder and capsule form and plays a fundamental role in the synthesis of carnosine, an essential compound in regulating pH during high-intensity, short-term physical activities.

“This is important because when intense muscular activity occurs, such as in anaerobic exercise, the muscles produce lactic acid, which usually leads to an increase in acidity (decrease in pH) in the muscles, which can contribute to fatigue. Carnosine acts as a ‘buffer’ to help neutralize acidity, prolonging resistance during these types of intense exercises and providing improved performance”, explain the nutritionists.

When to consume?

The recommendation is to divide the intake of beta-alanine over meals, which can further improve absorption and control the tingling effects that it usually causes, especially at the beginning of use.

How much to consume?

The beta-alanine supplementation protocol involves a dose called loading that is meant to give an extra boost of 6.4 grams of beta-alanine per day for a period of six weeks. After this initial phase, a maintenance dose of 3.2 grams per day should be started.

Care and Contraindications

The substance has a high tolerance, but some people may feel very uncomfortable with the itching it triggers. The good news is that this effect is temporary and harmless.

Sports Supplement: Caffeine

How much to consume?

The amount of caffeine in a sporting context can vary significantly based on several factors, including the type of sport, individual sensitivity, and personal tolerance, but the effective dosage is 3 to 6 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. The indicated amount may also depend on the duration of the sporting event. In short-duration, high-intensity activities, smaller doses may be effective, while long-term endurance activities may require larger doses.

Care and Contraindications

Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. In these cases, in high doses, it can cause side effects such as nervousness, increased heart rate, agitation or gastrointestinal problems. It is important to consider each person's sensitivity and start with smaller doses to assess tolerance. Patients with cardiac arrhythmia should speak to their doctor before starting to use it. Those prone to insomnia should only do it until 5pm.

Caffeine is a compound found in many foods and drinks, most commonly associated with coffee, tea, chocolate and certain types of soft drinks. Widely recognized for its stimulating properties that affect the central nervous system, resulting in increased focus, concentration, attention and reaction, characteristics that are very important during the practice of physical activities. As a supplement, it can be purchased in powder or capsule form.

The substance also reduces the perception of effort, pain and fatigue. “And it also acts on the breakdown of fat, increasing the availability of fatty acids, which are important sources of energy for muscle contraction during exercise”, add the nutritionists.

When to consume?

The substance, quickly absorbed by the body, reaches its maximum levels in the blood approximately 30 to 60 minutes after consumption. Therefore, it is recommended to ingest caffeine during this period before starting exercise to take advantage of its benefits during training or competition. Its intake must be administered before bedtime, as half of it still remains in the body up to five hours after ingestion.

Sports Supplement: Carbohydrates

They are usually given in the form of gel or honey. Sports gels are a compact and convenient way to use the nutrient to provide energy during exercise and improve performance.

When to consume?

Carbohydrate gels should be ingested before training and during physical activity. Normally, they are consumed every hour of exercise in cases where it lasts more than 45 minutes.

How much to consume? 

In activities lasting less than 45 minutes, there is no need to use carbohydrates. “In high-intensity exercises (between 45 and 75 minutes) the amount is small. Therefore, the indication must be in accordance with the recommendation of a specialist or swish the substance for 10 seconds”, says the nutritionist.

Therefore, when the workout lasts between an hour or two and a half hours, it is recommended to ingest 30 to 60 grams per hour. However, in ultra endurance events (done by athletes), lasting more than two and a half hours, it is suggested to consume up to 90 grams per hour.

Care and Contraindications

Finally, it is important to drink water with carbohydrate gels to avoid intestinal discomfort. In addition, you should also test different sports supplements during training to see which works best for each case and which does not cause discomfort. Thus, diabetic patients have to be extra careful because it can increase blood sugar.

What can be used for muscle recovery?

In our blog posts read our blog called "Relieve tired muscles after training: Find out the causes and how to alleviate sore muscles" for more tips on sore muscles and muscle recovery.

You can see how PlayOn SPORTAID can help you to soothe and relax tired muscles.

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