Take for instance a professional tri-athlete. He is a professional, yet he has no experience whatsoever with supplemental nutrition. He has succeeded thus far on his natural abilities and talent yet for some reason cannot crack the top 50 professional tri-athletes in the world. What makes him any different from all the other professional tri-athletes? He is training just as hard and just as much as the rest, but why is he not breaking through his personal best? Could it be that making a small change in his diet could mean the difference between placing in the top 10 percentile or above 50?
No matter what kind of athlete you are, you are still an athlete. And you have one goal in mind, and that is to be the best at whichever sport you choose to participate in. To get there, you’ve got to utilize more than one strategy; including variations in training, diet, and supplementation. Which one will help you the most? Not one is any better than the other in that respect, however, making changes in your supplement strategy will pose quicker results than the other two combined.
Supplements in sports do not create an unfair advantage over your competition as they are simply a training tool. Other training tools used in sports include, but are not limited to, better shoes, better baseball bats, sleeker swimsuits, lighter bicycles, better coaches, better training, tinted lenses, better protective gear, etc. When put in the same class as the above list, using supplements simply makes sense.
How to Apply Supplements to Endurance Sports & the Cardio Bunny
1. Stop listening to your buddy or the guy at your local nutrition retailer.
These people think they know, but they have no idea
Caffeine – an excellent pre-workout strategy that has been shown to enhance performance when endurance exercise is performed for longer than 30 minutes, and also improve performance time. It does not alter fluid balance and because it may increase thermogenesis in male and female athletes it will in turn increase fat oxidation.
BCAAs – consuming 2-5g BCAAs pre- and post-workout has been shown to decrease the catabolic state in endurance athletes. Basically you are keeping your muscles fed throughout your workout rather than causing your body to utilize your precious muscle as fuel while you train.
Glutamine – Glutamine plays a key role as a fuel source in the GI tract, immune system, liver, and kidneys. It also has the ability to replenish glycogen stores in the muscle while on a low carbohydrate diet. It is found primarily in the muscle, and has the ability to reduce infections in athletes. I have even seen this supplement on the shelves in the hospital where Dietitians and Physicians are using it for wound healing, among other applications.
Beta-Alanine – shown to delay fatigue by increasing carnosine levels in the muscle. Carnosine acts as a buffer for lactic acid (you know the burning sensation you get in the muscle while training) allowing you to lift heavier and run harder, for longer. Β-alanine is quite possibly the rate limiting substrate for carnosine synthesis making it essential to reap the benefits of Carnosine.
Creatine – may improve muscular endurance and anaerobic performance. It works.
Essential Fats – when paired with regular exercise have been shown to decrease body fat and improve metabolic and cardiovascular health. The less body fat you have, obviously the more efficient your body will be.
Carbohydrate – supplies the body with energy, and replaces glycogen stores in the muscle after physical activity. Carbohydrate ingestion during exercise may prolong physical activity by providing a continuous supply of energy. Utilizing a carbohydrate/protein sports beverage pre-, during, and pos-exercise is ideal.
Protein – protein supplementation consisting of whey protein post-exercise assists in muscle/protein synthesis, less muscle soreness, a decrease in infection and muscle/joint problems, and an increase in muscle hypertrophy. The anabolic response in relation to various forms of protein may be different. Whey protein absorbs significantly faster than casein (milk proteins) and even soy.
3. Pay attention to nutrient timing.
Specifically pre- and post-workout. Caffeine, Carbohydrate, BCAAs and glutamine pre-workout will increase energy and thermogenesis as well as supply your body with fuel all the while decreasing the catabolic state. During your training, endurance athletes will benefit from consuming a hydration beverage such as Coco Fit or Power Shock. You have approximately 15-45 minutes in your post-workout window to get the right nutrients to the muscle. A great option for a post-workout shake would be 5g Glutamine, 5g BCAAs, Whey protein, and some form of carbohydrate (maltodextrin is good).
4. Don’t think you’re using steroids if you use supplements, cuz you’re not!
Whether you’re a weekend warrior, cardio bunny, or professional endurance athlete, Sports Nutrition Supplementation may be the difference between 1st and 2nd place. Want the physical endurance and look of the best? Be better at what you do by using the training tools available. Buy better shoes, get better training, find the best coach, and use the best foods/supplements to get you to the top of your game. Once you do all of this, your boundaries will be limitless.