Athletes Supplement Tool Box
Every athlete, understandably so, is always looking for the edge. If you are properly trained, properly fueled and properly rested, the right supplements can be that added puzzle piece to help you get that edge you are looking for. There are a myriad of sports supplements available and it can be very challenging to determine which one are best for your needs and goals. Below is a list of supplements that should be in every athletes supplement toolbox.
Nitric Oxide Stimulators: Nitric oxide (NO) is produced from the amino acid L-arginine through a process called Nitric Oxide Synthase. NO is a vasodilator (dilates blood vessels). By dilating blood vessels, we can drive more nutrients and oxygenated blood to the working muscles. What does this mean for you as a athlete? This can help you go longer, harder, faster before you fatigue. To simplify it, your body is an oxygen pump and the more oxygenated blood we can drive to the working muscles, the better our performance for a longer duration.
L-Arginine: L-Arginine can help to assist in growth hormone release, stimulate the release of nitric oxide (a vasodilator; therefore, this will help to drive more blood to the working muscles) and it will help to promote fat metabolism. L-Arginine can be found in red meat, fish, poultry, nuts, whole wheat and dairy. L-Arginine is also found in many sports supplements (2-10g/day is recommended).
Beta Alanine: This non-essential amino acid helps to increase muscle carnosine levels. Carnosine can help to buffer hydrogen ions from building up, which will help to prevent muscle fatigue. Foods such as beef, pork, fish and poultry contain carnosine, which will increase the availability of Beta Alanine through digestion. Beta Alanine is also found in a number of sports supplements (take 1.5-3g/day).
D-Ribose: Ribose is a sugar that is naturally occurring in the body and aids in the production of ATP (energy). Foods such as chicken, dairy and almonds contain Ribose. D-Ribose is also a popular ingredient in sports supplements (up to 20g/day divided into multiples doses per day is recommended).
Rhodiola Rosea Root Extract: Rhodiola is a plant that has been found to help assist in increasing the body's resistance to physical stress. In addition, it may also help to increase ATP levels in the muscle. Rhodiola can be found as a stand-alone supplement or an ingredient in supplements and 100-600mg of standardized extract is recommended per day.
Resveratrol: Resveratrol is a potent antioxidant that can be found in grapes (red or purple), peanuts, blueberries and cranberries. This can also be found in nutrition supplements (50-100mg/day is recommended).
L-Glutamine: Glutamine can help to assist in boosting the immune system and it can help to buffer lactic acid, which will help to reduce muscle fatigue. Glutamine can be found in nuts, dairy, beef, egg whites, poultry, raw spinach and yogurt. L-Glutamine is also in many sports supplements (up to 30g/day divided into multiple doses).
L-OKG (Onithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate): This amino acid can help to prevent muscle breakdown, stimulate growth hormone release and NO (Nitric Oxide) release. The amino acids that comprise OKG can be found in meat, fish and poultry, but OKG itself is only available in a supplement (5-10g/day is recommended).
Creatine: In order to spare you the physiology details of the ATP-PC (Adenosine Triphosphate-Phosphacreatine) system, I will simplify this for you. 95% of our body's creatine is stored in our skeletal muscle. Creatine supplements can help to increase energy reserves (ATP) in our muscles. This can help to increase lean muscle, improve performance as well as enhance recovery.
BCAA: There are three Branch Chain Amino Acids (Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine). Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. BCAA can help to facilitate recovery. By improving recovery, we can then improve performance.
Antioxidants: Exercise, stress, decrease sleep, etc. can cause oxidation reactions to occur which can then produce free radicals. Free radicals can cause damage to the cells in our body. In order to battle these oxidation reactions and free radicals from forming, antioxidants are key. Supplements containing the following antioxidants can be very beneficial: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, vitamin E, Zinc, Beta-carotene, Acai fruit, Pomegranate, etc.
Maltodextrin: This is a complex carbohydrate that can be mixed with your fluid replacement drink of choice for in-training fuel. You can also create your own recovery fuel by mixing maltodextrin with a protein powder.
Caffeine: As an endurance athlete, caffeine prior to workouts and races can prove to be beneficial. It is been shown in studies that caffeine can help an athlete become more efficient by causing the body to facilitate fat as its primary fuel source and to spare glycogen (glycogen is stored in our muscles and in our liver). 100-200 mg of caffeine prior to training and racing can be helpful.
The definition of supplement is, something added to something already whole. There is no magic in one particular legal supplement, rather, when we have the whole thing (this is spot-on training, nutrition and repair/recovery), adding the right supplements can help to improve recovery and performance.
Review your supplement toolbox and look closely at what supplements you can add to your regimen in order to get the biggest return possible on your investment of time and to take your performance to the next level!
Dr. Rick Kattouf
2x Best-Selling author
Named One of the World Fitness Elite® Trainers of the Year
Named one of America's PremierExperts® in Fitness & Nutrition
CEO/Founder of TeamKattouf Inc
CEO/Founder of TeamKattouf Nutrition LLC
CEO/Founder of Virtual Gym LLC