Sports supplements are notoriously used by athletes seeking to maintain their edge over the competition, but in order to understand how they work, we must first understand what happens to our muscles during intense physical activity.
While we exercise, greater than usual strain is placed on the muscles. As a result, the tissue experiences microscopic tears, the size and severity of which depend on the intensity of the exercise itself. The entire process is perfectly normal and, provided that we avoid over-training and injury, it is the only way to increase muscle mass. Indeed, when the micro-tears occur, satellite cells exterior to muscle fibers are activated to rush towards the damaged area, replicate, become mature and ultimately fuse to them. Additional protein mass is built into the myofibrils, which then increase the size and strength of the initial muscle tissue to better prepare for similar effort in the future.
Simply put, a good quality sports supplement, such as DNA Lean Amino-XS, brings together a variety of nutritional elements that create the optimal conditions for the faster, more efficient generation of amino acids. In turn, the latter are used in the healing and growth of muscle tissue.
5 Ways Sports Supplements Can Enhance Your Athletic Performance
Sports supplements stimulate muscle growth
Amino acids are the primary component used in the healing and growth of muscle tissue after each workout session, but they are not present in the body as such. Rather, they are obtained from breaking down protein with the help of dietary enzymes, while the process can be faster or slower, depending on the protein in question. Needless to say, due to the constant strain they place on their bodies, athletes require much larger quantities of protein. This is where supplements come in handy. Unlike other sources of amino acids, sports supplements contain protein that can be used quickly, in large quantities. Taken before and/or after exercise, they provide the body with the necessary amino acids to stimulate immediate muscle growth and to prevent muscle loss.
- Sports supplements can increase your endurance
Whether you are an endurance athlete or not, you will experience fatigue at one point or another during your workout routine; and you will want to delay it. However, fatigue is a complex phenomenon that occurs at the intersection of multiple factors. Some of these include the depletion of glycogen or usable energy from muscles, the decrease in creatine phosphate, the molecule that powers skeletal muscles, as well as dehydration and an increased core temperature. Various sports supplements can be used to address each of these issues, thereby helping you postpone fatigue and workout longer.
- Sports supplements can increase muscle and body recovery
Intense physical activity is strenuous for both muscles and the body overall. Furthermore, injuries are not uncommon in the training of athletes, while their consequences on one’s shape and career can be steep. In addition to providing the necessary amino acids for the recovery and growth of muscles, sports supplements can help contain the inflammation resulting from the micro-tears of the muscles and from most injuries. A speedier recovery from fractures and surgeries may also be obtained with the help of certain sports supplements.
- Sports supplements can enhance alertness and concentration
Mental acuity may not be as essential a component of bodybuilding as strength and endurance, but in most sports, it can make a tremendous difference. It becomes particularly difficult to remain focused, positive and sharp after a long session of intense physical activity, and yet, these qualities might just give you an edge over your opponent. Fortunately, a number of sports supplements are designed to spike mental acuity, enhance concentration and promote alertness through substances that activate otherwise fatigued mental processes.
- Sports supplements may prevent diseases
Intense physical activity may lead to a temporarily weaker immune system, rendering the athlete more prone to common diseases such as the cold. In turn, such mild illnesses can lead to missed days of training and ultimately to the loss of performance gained so far. A frustrating result. To avoid it, certain sports supplements focus on the body’s recovery after intense exercise, as well as on boosting the immune system against diseases. Even when the supplement is not particularly designed for immune-boosting purposes, the vitamins and nutrients it contains have a positive impact on health.
Tips for Taking Pre- and Post-Workout Supplements
Because of the way most sports supplements work in conjunction with muscle healing and growth, their timing around your workout can be just as important as the substances they contain.
For an optimal use, consider taking sports supplements at least three times per day, in the following time intervals:
- Pre-workout, 60 minutes – No earlier than one hour before your workout session, consider taking a combination of caffeine and green tea in order to maximize endurance and strength.
- Pre-workout, 15-30 minutes – As you draw near to the workout session, it’s time to provide the fuel your body will need for intense physical activity. Consider a combination of protein, BCAAs, creatine and beta-alanine supplements.
- Post-workout, no later than 45 minutes – Within 45 minutes of concluding your workout session, there is an ideal window for you to provide the necessary amino acids for your muscles to develop at their maximum potential. A combination of proteins, BCAAs, creatine and a moderate dose of fast carbohydrates will work best.
Certainly, you can also consider sports supplements throughout the day – at breakfast, lunch and dinner, in addition to pre- and post-workout. However, several supplements, such as caffeine, must be taken in moderation in order to avoid side-effects. Keep this in mind and don’t be afraid to consult a nutritionist!
Paul Jenkins started his career studying MSc applied chemistry before becoming a sports nutritionist who currently has almost 20 years experience in sports nutrition.
- An overview of sports supplements and increased sports performance: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2129136/
- On the manifold effects of protein supplements in conjunction with physical activity and training: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25169440
- On sports supplements and disease prevention: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27150288
- On injuries during sports and possible prevention of muscle loss: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25027662
- On protein supplements and sports injuries: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4672013/
- The recommended distribution of protein supplements throughout the day: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24477298/
- The anti-inflammatory properties of sports supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22361189
- On creatine supplements and their benefits for athletes: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3407788/
- On sports supplements and their delay of fatigue: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4787274/
- The immune-boosting properties of sports supplements: https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-014-0061-8
- Study on sports supplements and increased athletic performance, with sections dedicated to mental acuity during exercise: https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-3-1-1