Supplements and sports, an inseparable pair?

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Robert Maurer
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A: "Doctor, I started playing sports, I will need some supplements."


B: "What kind of sport do you practice?"

A: "I go for a half hour run on Sunday morning"

This hypothetical conversation will make you smile, but this is often the case: it is thought that the body needs who knows what supplements if we increase our level of physical activity a little.

Let's forget one irreplaceable source of integration: food. The fresh and seasonal fruit and vegetables, whole grains they have all the vitamins and minerals we need, legumes, eggs - and for those who consume it, meat and fish, milk and cheeses - they contain enough protein to support the activity of our muscles. 


Supplements and sports activities they are not always inseparable, let's see better how and why.

 

Supplements and sports: an inseparable combination?

We have already understood that sports and supplements do not necessarily constitute an inseparable combination. Worse still: if taken without a professional's prescription and supervision, a excessive use of supplements could be harmful.

In fact, a vitamin-mineral excess from incorrect use of supplements comes eliminated in the urine or can cause disturbances such as vomiting, diarrhea, headache and weight loss.


Specifically, symptoms of liver toxicity occur when excessive amounts of vitamin A (ipervitaminosi).

Who practices sport at a competitive level it may need supplementation to maintain an optimal state of health and good sports performance.

We mean those who practice sports for 3 hours or more for at least 4 times a week. In these cases the organism is "put to the test" for the high energy expenditure, intense sweating, important muscle work, therefore the power supply alone may not be sufficient to restore such large consumptions.


Will the sports doctor or nutritionist who follows the athletes, based on their physical characteristics and the sport practiced, to decide which supplement to administer, the quantity and duration of the intake.

In all other situations we speak of amateur sportsmen, or whoever practices sporting activity for about 1-2 hours between 2 and 4 times a week, on an unprofessional level.

Unless otherwise prescribed by a doctor or particular physiological conditions, usually there is no need for supplements. Provided though that the diet is balanced, rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins. A nutrition professional could help you rearrange your diet properly before thinking about any supplements.

For those who practice sports, at any level, the first source of "integration" must be food: the right doses of carbohydrates to give energy, of proteins for muscle activity and of fats for the functions of support and energy reserve, of minerals and vitamins to stop losses.


Secondly the actual need for supplements can be assessed, always under the supervision of a doctor or nutritionist.

 

Read also Ginseng and sports, benefits and when to take it >>

 

Sports supplements: what they are

The legislation and the country implementing Directive 2002/46 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 June 2002 (Legislative Decree 21 May 2004), defines the Dietary Supplements "Food products intended to supplement the common diet and which constitute a concentrated source of nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, or other substances having a nutritional or physiological effect, in particular but not exclusively amino acids, essential fatty acids, fiber and extracts of vegetable origin, both single and multi-compound, in pre-dosed forms ".


There are supplements that can be necessary in particular physiological conditions for sporting activity, especially at a professional-competitive level. Below is a list of the main ones:

> The so-called BCAAs, (branched chain amino acids or BCAA: branchedchain amino acid) or - from the definition of the Ministry of Health - "products aimed at the integration of amino acids and derivatives", to recover intense muscular efforts.

These are essential amino acids (which the body does not produce and must be supplied, usually with food). According to some studies, these amino acids would be anabolic, that is able to promote protein synthesis and promote recovery processes, after an impressive muscular work.

Also in this case, natural food can reach the need for amino acids, since they are present in the proteins of common foods.


Their recommended daily intake amount that it must not normally exceed 5 g. The 2: 1: 1 ratio of leucine, isoleucine and valine, respectively.

> Products for for increase calorie intake: they are based on simple carbohydrates that provide at least 200 Kcal per serving. They are very often supplemented with other nutrients, for example B vitamins, vitamin C.

Also common foods such as rusks, chocolate, dry biscuits, or fresh or dried fruit, could give the same energy contribution.

> Products for hydro-saline reintegration: in reintegration it is necessary when the loss of water with sweating reaches about 2,5 / 3 liters.

They consist mainly of water, carbohydrates and mineral salts and are of 3 types: hypertonic - drinks whose concentration is higher than that of blood plasma, which require long intestinal assimilation times; isotonici - drinks with a concentration equal to that of plasma, which require average intestinal assimilation times; hypotonic - drinks whose concentration is lower than that of plasma and require very short intestinal assimilation times.


> Products for lintegration of proteins: It is protein powder, for the "reconstruction" of muscle mass, they are usually derived from milk or soy or other legumes.

Remember that protein intake can reach up to 2 g / kg bw / day in power sports. These products should not be used for too long, there are contraindications in case of kidney disease, pregnancy and under 12 years.

> The Creatine: it's a amino acid present almost exclusively in the muscle (95%) and a small percentage of the brain, liver, kidneys and testes. From some studies it is found that creatine would be capable of improve recovery time and efforti high power.

The suggested daily intake is 3 g per day while higher doses are not recommended also because there are side effects: muscle cramps, muscle heaviness, diarrhea, gastrointestinal pain.

> The Carnitine: it is an amino acid derivative (normally synthesized in the liver starting from lysine and methionine) present in skeletal muscles and heart muscle; stimulates theoxidation of fatty acids in the mitochondria for energy purposes. It is used by athletes, as it would be able to increase the speed of muscle contraction and resistance to fatigue, relieve fatigue and pain muscular.

> The Caffeine: is an ergogenic supplement, which is a substance that can help improve sports performance. Caffeine also stimulates the release of lipids from adipose deposits e stimulates the release of endorphins which improve cognitive abilities and raise the pain threshold and therefore remove the appearance of the sense of fatigue. These results are possible with moderate intakes (3-6 mg per kg of body weight) while high doses could cause side effects such as nervousness, irritability, agitation, headache, palpitations.

> The Omega-3: essential fatty acids, which must be introduced with the diet or through supplements; they have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system by improving vasodilation, promoting an antioxidant effect and an antithrombotic action. They are used by sportsmen for muscle recovery after intense effort as reduce inflammation exercise induced.

Of course the examples mentioned are just some of the countless types of supplements used by both athletes and amateur sportsmen.

 

Read also Home-made energy drinks and snacks for sports >>

 

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