My last week’s article was an introduction about sports supplements that you might have read (you can review Part 1 here ) As I told you there, in addition to a balanced diet, there’s some supplements that would benefit people that have particular goals or people following a regular and intense work out plans that may increase the body’s needs for a number of vitamins and minerals.
Please bear in mind that is always highly recommended to be under the guidance of a professional, they are the more suitable to prescribe the supplements if needed.
Sports supplements guide for beginners
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As promised I’ll give you more information about several sport supplements for beguinners, the fist ones are b-alanine and branched-chain amino acids (BCAA)
B-alanine is a dispensable amino acid (DAA) (also called non-essential amino acid) that seems to increase exercise capacity and time to fatigue. Several studies have indeed shown that supplementation with b-alanine improves performance in multiple bouts of high-intensity exercise and in single bouts of more than 60 seconds. It has also shown to enhance time to exhaustion and delay fatigue, though it does not seem to improve strength or VO2 max. In several trials, common doses were 2-6.4 g a day with no apparent side-effects, but the timings varied considerably. For example, some trials included doses of 800 mg taken four times a day (a daily total of 3.2 g) with a total of 90 g over four weeks; whilst others took increasing amounts during the trial, in one case, an average of 6.4 g a day with a total of 146 g over the four weeks of the study.
-alanine: suggested dosage of 2-6 g a day
No timings have been suggested as there seems to be little or no guidance on this; however, many commercial products suggest just two grammes a day taken 30 minutes before training. Amounts greater than 10 mg per kilogramme of BM (800 mg for an 80-kg athlete) may cause paraesthesia (‘pins and needles’), but further investigation to assess other potential side-effects and to determine a general dosage is deemed necessary. b-alanine can be found in many foods but is particularly high in animal sources, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA)
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) consist of leucine, isoleucine valine – three of the eight indispensable amino acids (IAA) – that are converted into two other amino acids, glutamine and alanine (both of which are involved in protein synthesis and energy production, among other things) and released in abundance throughout the body. BCCA constitute about a third of skeletal muscle tissue in the body and play an important role in muscle-building via protein synthesis. Many studies suggest that BCAA improves reaction times, muscle mass, strength and body composition, reduces muscle damage (especially in anaerobic exercise) and increases resistance to fatigue. It is difficult to quantify most of these, but during trials many subjects had a reduction of body fat by one per cent, and increases in muscle mass by about 1.3 per cent. The reduction in fat did not normally mean a reduction in body mass since the muscle mass simultaneously increased, indeed, most subjects experienced an overall increase in body mass, though not by much.
The suggested dosage in commercial products varies as you might expect, but they seem to be about 5 g taken two to four times a day (between 10 and 20 grammes a day) and in the ratio of 2:1:1 for each of leucine, isoleucine and valine respectively. However, researchers have used very different ratios, some examples are: (leucine: isoleucine: valine) in the ratios (1.8:0.75:0.75), (2.3:1:1.2) and (3.5:2.1:1.7) ranging from 5 g to over 20 g in total a day. The timings have also varied considerably, such as three weeks before training and then during the training week at varying doses, the total daily dose in one ingestion 15 minutes before training, or set times before and after training and during the day. In fairness, each research carried out may have had different aims, after all, the claims for BCAA are many; nonetheless, this makes it difficult for the athlete to know which dosage is best. However, some researchers have used doses in terms of milligrammes per kilogramme of body mass; one such intake was: BCAA at 300 mg/kg/BM. This means that even an 80kg-athlete will be ingesting 24 g of BCAA a day, and this may be fine, but as most research has used 5-20 g a day it might not be advisable to exceed this unless under the supervision of a qualified sport physician, so the suggested dosage in this article is:
-BCAA (2:1:1): suggested dosage is 5-20 g a day
It is perhaps best to start with the lowest daily total (5 g) taken in two or four equal doses (2.5 g × 2 or 1.25 g × 4). The timings seem far from established, but since the suggested benefits include a reduction in muscle damage and an increase in muscle mass it might be better to take at least two does close to either side of your training.
It seems that there are no side-effects from taking BCAA, but high doses may hinder the absorption of other amino acids. Red meat is the highest source of BCAA, but they are also found in other protein-rich foods such as poultry, eggs, milk and other dairy products.
You can find more information about sport nutrition here.