With Christmas and New Year celebrations still swilling around our waistlines, keeping our body fat under control is enough of a challenge. But for some of the more serious amateur athletes, supplements are what they believe takes them to the next level. So are they safe and what effect do they have on our bodies? navigate to these guys
Protein Shakes / A High Protein Diet
Recent low-carb diets made carbohydrates the modern-day evil. But while a high protein diet can help with specific weight management goals, long-term adherence can create risks of nutritional imbalance as high protein diets can be low in fibre thus impeding digestion. A lack of vegetables, fruit, legumes and whole grains could mean an absence of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, weakening the immune system.
As protein is excreted by the liver and kidneys problems can occur in these organs as well as dehydration. A condition called ‘Ketosis’ can occur meaning calcium is drawn from the bones possibly leading to osteoporosis. Although high in protein, red meat is high in saturated fat thus increasing risk of heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. A high protein diet can also impact serotonin levels which affect a person’s mood. These risks would normally become a factor over the long-term or for people with known liver or kidney problems.
But, as long as sufficient water and vitamin C are taken on board for most people, a high protein diet shouldn’t pose problems in the short to medium term. Longer term, a balanced diet should always be followed.
Creatine is often cited by athletes as helping to bulk up the body by increasing the amount of fat-free mass. Without wanting to get too technical, as increases in muscular creatine produces increases in muscular creatine phosphate, stores of creatine phosphate in the muscles increase which can delay the onset of fatigue thus extending peak performance. This helps improve short-term bursts of power so explosive, power-based sports such as sprinting, jumping and cycling may benefit. The delayed lactic acid build up would benefit endurance athletes.
Studies have shown that use of creatine under certain conditions will produce an increase in fat-free mass. So this will help you to bulk up but you should be at the right stage in your training plan to use this and it’s important to know how much to take and how long for.
In term of risks, short and medium-term use have shown no adverse affects however concerns over long-term use of strain on the kidneys due to the high nitrogen content has not been proven after studies. Caution should be taken for those with kidney problem history however. The other side effect is water retention leading to weight gain. A possible gender-based ‘side effect’ could be that fat-free mass increase is lower in women than men so that may affect the results a woman is expecting.
Caffeine increases the use of free fatty acids as a fuel source instead of glycogen, so this will benefit your endurance. Caffeine also enhances the release of calcium needed for muscular contraction and acts as a stimulant to the nervous system so this can help your strength conditioning.
Health issues associated with caffeine consumption are hypertension, diuresis (increased urination), arrhythmias (heart beat rhythm deviation), insomnia, upset stomach, anxiety, delirium, impaired memory and hallucinations. By taking caffeine approximately 1 hour before exertion the peak concentration values in blood will be hit. And if you don’t like coffee, you can get caffeine tablets instead which can actually produce superior results. But remember, It’s important to drink plenty of water if taking caffeine as a supplement to your training.
More of a fluid and mineral replacement than a supplement. Electrolytes are ions found in the body that have the capacity to conduct electricity. The main ones are sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium and are essential for organ and cell function especially the brain, nervous system and muscles.
Sweat contains a lot of electrolytes, especially sodium. Exercise tends to induce sweat therefore as well as rehydrating to replace fluid levels, these electrolytes lost through sweat also need replacing which is why sports drinks contain them. A home-made version of these drinks can be made by mixing equal quantities of fruit juice and water and adding a couple of pinches of salt.