Everything you need to know about the benefits of vitamins, minerals, protein and other sports supplements if you’re an amateur athlete.
How can supplements boost fitness?
Sports supplements can help to boost the effects of an effective diet and training plan. Not to be mistaken for an alternative to a healthy, balanced diet, supplements are supposed to help make up for any nutritional shortfall. And, when used effectively, they can help you to achieve fat loss, gain muscle and boost energy and muscle gain.
Fighting fat with sports supplements
Caffeine will naturally boost up your body's metabolism to give you more energy during workouts. The fact that you have more energy will result in you having the ability to burn more calories during your workouts. But whilst caffeine is extremely effective in fat loss, it is important to monitor how much you have. It is recommended that you have no more than 400mg per day - equal to about five espressos.
Whilst caffeine can be ingested orally in pill or gum form, natural sources include coffee, green tea, dark chocolate and enhanced chewing gum.
Vitamin C is a natural diuretic and can help rid the body of any excess water weight as well as benefiting your immune system. Citrus fruits, green vegetables and tomatoes all contain high levels of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that can protect the body against infection and exercise-induced oxidative stress. It also helps the body to absorb iron and metabolise carbs for fuel.
Whilst dissolvable and chewable tablets are available to hit vitamin C requirements, grapefruits, oranges, lemons, spinach, and kale are all naturally effective sources also.
When in a deficit, it is easy to neglect many of the vitamin dense foods in order to save on calories. A worthy multivitamin tablet including all the essential vitamins A, B, B12, C, D, E and K can prove an extremely effective compensation for this.
How to increase muscle mass with supplements
Protein is an important nutrient which helps support your immune system, create antibodies, replace dead cells and build muscle. Fish, milk and eggs are all rich sources of protein but if you struggle to plan meals, protein bars or shakes are a convenient way to boost intake.
A 2004 study published in the Nutrition Journal found protein could help increase muscle growth and promote lean body mass gain. Male participants of a university weight training class were given daily protein bars containing either soy or whey protein. The results found both types of protein bar helped participants gain lean body mass but only the soy-based bar had an added antioxidant preserving function.
According to research, high-protein diets could also enhance your weight loss, by making you feel fuller for longer, thus helping reduce your overall food consumption. "Protein bars could be used to support a higher protein intake to aid body fat loss through appetite regulation and increased metabolism, or as part of a higher protein diet for sports performance" explains clinical performance nutritionist Martin MacDonald.
Vitamin D promotes bone health and also aids in muscular efficiency. Natural food sources of vitamin D include oily fish, egg yolks, mushrooms and cheese, but to achieve adequate levels you're better off taking a supplement.
Supplements to boost energy
Calcium, found in dairy products, is integral to strong bones and teeth as well as muscle contractions and energy metabolism. Too little could result in the release of the hormone, calcitriol, which makes your body store unnecessary fat.
Iron helps maintain high energy levels and keeps the immune system strong. It also forms part of haemoglobin, the pigment that transports oxygen from the lungs to the muscles. Iron-rich foods include sardines, red meat and bran.
Fatty acids such as omega 3, which improve blood flow, are very important to include in your diet because your body can't physically produce them. Find these essential acids in supplements or foods such as salmon, walnuts, soy beans and canola oil.
A good combination
Using a combination of these supplements alongside a carefully planned nutrition and training plan will really help towards your muscle building, fat loss goals. Whilst it is a challenge, for those who really care about their health and are dedicated to making their body the best it can be, it is achievable.
Elite Sport Essentials
Three essential supplements to support good nutrition and optimum performance
- Multivitamin, omega 3 and probiotic
- Convenient daily tear strips
- Supports energy levels, recovery and digestive health