Dietary supplements Supplementation

6 best supplements for an athlete

The supplement market offers us a large variety of supplements, which have the ability to bring great results in the growth of muscle mass and strength. Supplements have become so popular, that under more recent names, often associated with anabolic drugs, mixed substances are released, offering powerful muscle mass gains or support with building strength.


Often these products are based on adding tribulus, modest doses of creatine, beta-alanine, arginine and the like. Is it not better to rely on mono-preparations with proven performance?

Discover the 6 most useful supplements, which actions bring real support in the context of muscle mass and bodybuilding development.

Creatine

No one should be surprised that creatine was brought up first, this product actually promotes weight gain through a series of anabolic, ergogenic, and hormonal modulating effects. It has been on the market for years and is widely used in sports due to some interesting properties that make it a universal product. Its action, strictly focused on raising anabolism, is linked to such mechanisms as:

  • Increased creatine phosphate, faster ATP resynthesis,
  • Improvement of testosterone-cortisol ratio,
  • Support for glycogen storage during charging periods,
  • Stimulating sarcoplasmic hypertrophy,
  • Assists with reducing hydrogen ions,
  • Exhibits inhibitory effect of myostatin secretion.

Creatines action is indicated for increased strength and body weight, which is associated with water retention and increased glycogen compensation. However, this water is stored in the muscle cell, and targeted nutrition, properly balanced, should not cause swelling of the tissues, which may indicate some nutritional deficiencies such as excessive sodium or simple sugars. The dosage of creatine is about 8-10g per day.

Creatine is the best scientificaly proven supplement used in sports - it should be the first one to supplement!
Creatine is the best scientificaly proven supplement used in sports - it should be the first one to supplement!

Beta-alanine

Since there was creatine, there must also be beta-alanine. BA is a relatively young supplement and  its effect have  been linked to the synthesis of carnosine, an important compound that  exhibits potent antioxidant activity. It is true that in practice, antioxidants are avoided during perimenopause, explaining their negative effect on muscular growth, related to the limitation of inflammatory conditions initiating the regeneration and restoration of muscle fibers, as well as their thickening. However, carnosine works slightly differently, transforming its function to higher muscle strength, which improves exercise capacity. It also improves the functioning of the acid-base management, ensuring that the muscle can delay the occurrence of lactic acid so that the muscle can work longer. Although beta-alanine is primarily a product of an ergogenic effect that improves the processes of long-term muscle work, its combination with creatine produces slightly better results than the use of both products solo. Effective doses range between around 3-6g per day.

Nitric oxide precursors

Nitric oxide precursors such as arginine, agmatine or nitrates are compounds that aim to increase the synthesis of nitric oxide in the human body. By the specific action supporting the production of NO, they support the body to achieve the muscle pump effect, which is associated with the effect of vasodilation. Although the muscle pump effect alone is not yet an anabolic effect, it can translate into improved muscle endurance, helping improve muscle performance while training. Importantly, agents such as nitrates (contained in red beet's, among other things) support energy management through increased glucose uptake, which translates into changes in endurance parameters. Take around 5g of arginine 30min before a workout or 500mg of nitrates 1-2h before exercise.

Glycerol

The glycerol-focused action to improve anabolism is to increase the flow of water into the cell space, which gives the feeling of muscle pump during exercise. This action is not related to the production of nitric oxide, but involves the storage of fluid in the muscle cell, which effectively stimulates the effect of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. This action will also be linked to better access of energy substrates to the cell, which may be related to its faster regeneration and growth. Many people using glycerol describe its action as an effective pump that fills the muscles significantly, resulting in a long lasting "shake" effect. Glycerols goal is not only to improve exercising comfort, but also to improve endurance parameters and strength. The dosage is quite individualized and should be started with symbolic amounts to see how the body responds to the substance. You can start with 5-10g, which should be dissolved in 300-500ml of water and drank 30 min before training. Other options suggesting drinking loads of water for 2h before training are also valid, but are not necessary in my opinion.

Leucine

    It belongs to the branched chain amino acids BCAA, that has a specific activity in the human body. All this because of the metabolism of amino acids in both the liver and muscle tissue, protecting the body from energy deficit and the need to obtain amino acids from the body. Leucine is a key element that determines the build-up of muscle mass. Without this amino acid, the synthesis of new proteins is severely limited, and in some conditions impossible. The issue relating to musculature construction, which is linked to the amount of leucine in the diet, bears the leucine threshold that must be achieved in order to initiate initiation of protein synthesis pathways. Being direct, leucine decides whether you will build something or not. Dosage of around 2-3g with meals lacking this amino acid.

    Phosphatidic acid

    It is only a substance that’s growing on the market of strictly acting anabolic supplements. Many studies are still lacking the evaluation of the effect of this product. However, it’s worth noting that supplementation with this product bears the marks of effective support both in the musculature and the growth of muscle strength. Phosphatidic acid is a fairly expensive substance, but as the research shows, its potential is quite large. PA (phosphatidic acid) is used to improve the figure composition, reducing fat level and helping build lean muscle mass while supporting strength. Researchers compare the effect of PA supplementation on the effects of drugs. Doses used in supplementation were 750mg per day.

    About author

    Cara Marshall

    Cara Marshall

    Dietetic or self-called "Kitchen-magician". The only things which I would get on the desert island are Pan and canola frying oil!

    Also, I have a Bachelor degree in chemistry, so I like to write about some chemical magic here and there.

    Hope that you will stick with my articles, and let me guide you in that strange world of circles and lines!

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