In this article I am going to talk to you about sports supplements and nutrition. I will give my perspective on this topic, determining the function of supplements within a sports and nutritional plan.
Are Supplements really necessary?
As you all know, the use of food supplements generates a lot of controversy, as some people argue that their use is unnecessary, pointing out that everything can be achieved through diet…
Before we continue, it’s important to remember that diet is the cornerstone.
Only by following a set diet based on our needs and goals will you allow yourself the option to use supplements. Taking this into account, if you feel that everything is going smoothly (varied diet, you recover without issues, you train well…) it may not be necessary for you to use supplements…
For a sportsperson or athlete, supplements should be seen as “aids”, which seek to complement their diet and nutritional intake, in addition to promoting improved recovery and better performance.
Sometimes you think your training is already “hard” enough.
What is also happens frequently is that you settle into your comfort zone and, within it, generate an intensity which is subjective.
It goes without saying that it also depends on your interests: you train for leisure, to feel good, or for competition…
Before Taking Supplements…
From my point of view, you must first ensure you have the right diet and nutrient intake.
And secondly, consider your case based on level of activity and the variables such as intensity, volume and frequency of training.
A person who trains with a view to reducing their fat percentage by doing aerobics strength-building session does not have the same needs as somebody who trains 6 days a week and even does “double” sessions sometimes…
For the first case mentioned above, it is possible that by following your diet, you’ll have all the support you need. On the other hand, the person in the second example may need to boost their recovery, and food alone may not always be enough to achieve this.
Have you bought a pack of products, but without first knowing if you need it? Have you bothered to find out how many calories you need to increase muscle mass or lose fat? Do you read the labels of the foods you buy? Do you know the differences between the types of carbohydrates? Do you think that the saturated fats are always bad?
As you can see, a wide range of doubts can arise unless you take a minimum interest in your diet. In our blog, we analyse them all and make the information available to readers, assessing in each case both decisions and arguments
When should you take supplements?
Whether your goal is to get an amazing physique, the type of physique that we all dream of having from time to time, or if you’re looking to improve your performance, there are 3 variables to consider when implementing either a nutritional or sports routine:
- Training -> generating a stimulus
- Dietary ->Nutrition and Supplementation
- Rest -> and Recovery
We’ll only be able to achieve our goals by respecting these key stages. We must be sure not to mess up or leave out any of them, as they all depend on each other. Each one relies on the correct execution of its predecessor.
We observe that through Training we can achieve a stimulus (sufficient and adequate) which should set the standard that shapes our growth and performance improvement. The Rest is the stage where we turn our training into gains, and assimilate what has been practiced or trained.
If you don’t get proper rest, you simply won’t be able to produce the same level of training. Similarly, you won’t get proper rest if your diet is lacking…
Is it a good idea to take supplements?
Once again, it depends.
There are so many different variables, as many as people have different needs and/or goals . A person can eat perfectly, train and see results, without using any supplement.
Others, however, can do the same, and feel frustrated at not seeing results
- Is that when you have to include supplements? Not so fast. On taking a closer look, supplements (according to type) contain macronutrients, such as protein and carbohydrates, and micronutrients (essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals).
- Does this person take enough amount of protein? Due to circumstances, your diet may be lacking… You could drink a protein shake to help meet their goals.
- Could this person improve their performance on a 4-hour mountain biking course? Possibly, adding a mix of carbohydrates and electrolytes,, to take during the routine, could lead to them experiencing a significant improvement.
- Could this person, who is known to have an autoimmune disease (such as Ulcerative Colitis), and who therefore has difficulties in the absorption of nutrients, improve this with a supplement? Yes, they certainly could, with the most recommended supplement being: Probiotics, vitamin D and vitamin K, or even with Glutamine.
As we have already said, diet is the base for everything, no arguments, no ifs or buts.
However, it is really difficult to strictly follow a diet regime – where the regime does not revolve around calorie restriction – due to several factors:
- Time. The rush that we all feel in the pace of our everyday lives, prevents us from stopping to properly prepare a correct meal, or even to plan at other times
- Money. Many products that we should consider including in our daily diet, especially considering that we are sportspeople, are becoming more expensive, which means that supplements are often the more affordable option and it’s important to take this into account.
- Training. The difference between eating a solid meal, or taking a supplement that performs the same function as that meal, but whose digestion, assimilation and availability is more immediate and effective.
If I get up early, and plan to do a high intensity session, I don’t think it would be the best idea to eat a bowl oat flakes with milk, since by the time the energy from this meal is made available after digestion, we may have finished the routine, taken a shower, and we might already be eating our midday meal…
This idea aims to achieve Efficiency, both in terms of energy and nutrient availability…
For the example I gave above, in my view, if I want to train early, and I want to have a good amount energy and nutrients, I think a combination of carbohydrates of easy assimilation, high molecular weight and low osmolarity, together with a mixture of amino acids is a more efficient way to prepare for the routine.
Other concrete examples:
If we are looking for a boost to both stimulation and performance, :
- Does drinking a coffee help me, then? Absolutely.
- Does it upset your stomach? I’m afraid so : – | .
- What’s the Solution? If you take it in tablets you may well get the same ergogenic effects, but without the inconvenience caused
Creatine is the star supplement in strength and power sports . The recommended doses to maximise its benefits are 20-25g daily(loading phase).
- Can creatine be obtained naturally? Yes, mainly from eating meat.
- How much meat do I have to eat if I want to get those 20-25g of creatine? Applying the rule of 3 is quite simple: 1kg of meat provides approx. 5g of creatine. So if you eat about 5kg of meat a day you’re sorted! // ironic mode off
Supplementation for everyone
Whether you are a professional athlete, amateur sportsperson, play football with your friends, or are an older person who goes for walks in the afternoon… dietary supplements offer something for you.
However, supplements should not always be linked to sport, as they include a great deal of uses, such as:
- Help to Reduce Stress
- Supplements for Bone Health,
- Supplements to Strengthen your Immune System
- Supplements to Improve Concentration
As you can see, each person has their own goals, and for this reason, supplements should be considered case-by-case, depending on the activity.
Taking all of this into account, sports supplements are not just for those of us who go straight to the weight training area. In fact, they provide for a much wider range of athletes.
- Supplements for Cyclists
- Supplements for CrossFit
- Supplementation with Creatine
- Supplements for Brain Health
- Supplements for Sleeping
- Energy and Hydrating Sports Drinks
- Supplementation vs. doping