Athletes need the energy to maximize physical performance when training or competing. Else, they will get tired and function poorly. While a well-balanced diet and sufficient amount of sleep can help them beat fatigue and perform at their peak, some may need an energy boost.
That’s why many athletes use performance supplements as part of their training program and nutrition plan. But though they can help you train harder and enhance performance, these supplements can bring more harm than good if you don’t know how to take them properly.
Discover below the best ways to use supplements for exercise and athletic performance.
Know Various Types of Supplements
There are several performance supplements in the market. But since they contain ingredients in varied combinations and quantities, not all of them can help boost performance in sports and training.
Here’s a list of ingredients that have good evidence of benefits among athletes:
- The stimulating effects of caffeine on the central nervous system block the action of adenosine, reducing the sensations of both fatigue and pain. As a result, you can endure longer in the training and competition before spending all your energy.
- Phosphocreatine is a naturally occurring compound in the body. It replenishes ATP energy‐ the primary fuel source for high-intensity physical activities. Since supplementing creatine helps increase their levels, it also enhances your ability to perform in training that requires intense bursts of power.
- Nitric Oxide. The primary role of nitric oxide is to regulate oxygen transport in the muscles, resulting in increased blood flow. Because of this, your muscles can perform harder for extended periods and recover much faster after high-intense training.
- Beta-Alanine, Your muscles produce a lot of lactic acids when you exercise or train at maximum effort. Since the buildup of lactic acid can cause fatigue and soreness, it can affect your performance. But supplementing with beta-alanine can increase carnosine levels, which in turn decreases lactic acid accumulation in your muscles during an intense exercise or training.
- Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs). As the building blocks of proteins, BCAAs reduce muscle protein breakdown for energy. You will also have more muscular strength and endurance with increased muscle protein, allowing you to exert a greater force and repeat intense physical movements more often.
Time Your Supplement Intake
Although you can take supplements whenever you want, proper intake timing is a vital factor when you’re looking to improve exercise and athletic performance. The ideal time for supplementation may depend on the type of supplements you take. But generally, you may consider taking them around 30-60 minutes before you train or compete.
Doing so will allow the beneficial effects of performance supplements to kick in fully. Note that taking it too early will speed up the metabolism of the supplement and leave you short of energy in the middle of your training. On the other hand, you won’t experience its efficacy if you take it too late.
In addition to timing, it’s essential to take supplements in proper doses. Make sure to always check the recommended dosage on the label. Remember that taking too high of a dose can lead to several side effects.
Talk To Your Healthcare Provider
Performance supplements are generally safe. However, it’s worth noting that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not technically review them for safety and efficacy. So before taking any supplement, make sure to talk to your healthcare provider or sports nutritionist. This way, you’d be more guided on how and when you should take them and what type and quantities are safe for your health.
Other Steps To Consider
Using supplements is just one way to improve exercise and athletic performance. However, if you want to get optimal results, you can take your training to the next level with the following steps.
- Eat Well. As an athlete, you need enough calories to fuel your sports performance. But instead of consuming sugary cereals and fast food, eat a balanced meal with a healthy supply of carbs, proteins, and fats. Else, your body would quickly break down muscles, making it less likely to achieve peak performance.
- Hydrate Properly. Adequate hydration is also a vital component in sports performance. Note that your body could lose up to 45 ounces of water an hour during an intense workout or training. But staying hydrated helps regulate body temperature, resulting in better muscle recovery, improved mood, and maximum performance in general.
- Take Enough Rest. Your muscle tissue may experience strain during a workout or training, and a lack of proper recovery can cause serious injuries. Thus, make sure to take enough rest and give your muscles enough time to heal.
- Train Your Brain. Athletic performance is not just about physical abilities. Your brain also plays a significant role in this endeavor. To sustain high levels of performance, you need to have better response time, visual accuracy, and memory. So along with physical training, you should also train your brain to stay focused.
Boost Performance With The Right Supplementation
Supplements are a great tool to boost exercise and athletic performance. But bear in mind that they are no substitute for a healthy diet. Getting essential nutrients from whole foods is still your best choice. Additionally, discipline and patience are essential ingredients even when you’re taking performance supplements.