Safe Supplementation for the Serious Athlete

By Austin McEvoy

Athletes place high demands on their bodies to improve their performance.  Whether you are a runner, a basketball player, or a martial artist, you are probably all too familiar with the fatigue that sets in after a grueling workout.

“When you have a really hard workout you create a stress response in the body.  That stress triggers hormone release, inflammation and free radical damage,” said Integrative Medical Director of TrueStar Health Dr. Andra Campitelli.

For athletes sometimes diet alone is not enough to combat this stress response, Campitelli said.  She recommends the following list of supplements to her more active patients.

1. Protein powder

Protein supplements are important for athletes because they help conserve muscle.  Once the glucose in your body has been used up, your body will start taking protein from your muscles.  This is why it is important to ingest protein immediately after working out. It prevents your body from going after that muscle you worked so hard to build.

Campitelli recommends whey protein over other protein supplements because the body absorbs it more easily.

“Whey protein is by far the most effective,” Campitelli said.

Even those who are lactose intolerant can consume whey protein without negative side-effects if it is a good quality protein powder, Campitelli added.

2. Additional Amino acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein molecules, which is why they are so important for muscle growth.  Most protein powders will already contain amino acids but athletes sometimes need additional ones, Campitelli said.

Arginine and glutamine are particularly beneficial.  Arginine helps stimulate growth hormone production while glutamine helps reduce post-workout muscle soreness, Campitelli said.

3. Multivitamin

A multivitamin is important because it makes sure all of your basis are covered.

“Everybody needs to be taking a multivitamin, whether you are active or not,” Campitelli said.

4. Fish Oil

Fish oil has multiple functions in the body. It improves joint health, helps with weight loss, and increases energy levels.

“I put all my athletes on a good quality fish oil,” Campitelli said.

5. Antioxidants

Antioxidants are important for athletes because they stop those free radical reactions that are caused by the body’s stress response to a tough workout.

Campitelli recommends green tea, selenium, or coenzyme Q-10 to battle free radicals.

Green tea is especially effective because the caffeine also gives you a metabolism boost, she said.

6. B vitamins

B vitamins are at work everywhere in the body from the blood stream to the nervous system.

“Pretty much every reaction that is happening in our body incorporates a B vitamin in some way,” Campitelli said.

B vitamins are especially important to athletes according to a 2006 study by Oregon State University.  The study concluded that inadequate amounts of B vitamins worsen an athlete’s ability to perform high-intensity exercises and hinder their ability repair muscle.

Taking multiple supplements at once will not negatively effect your health, except when it comes to stimulants, Campitelli said.  Taking too many stimulants damages the heart, she said.

To be on the safe side, you should check with your healthcare provider before adding supplements to your diet, especially of you taking other medications.

Categories: Your Nutrition

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