By Ranil Harshana
Present society is all about quick fixes and faster results to enhance your health, fitness, aesthetics or performance by taking the next miracle. Through my 20+ year global career in training and consulting high performance professional athletes, models, kids, adults, trainers, coaches and corporate clients, 95% ask the same question day in day out, “What is the best supplement?"
Answer – Correct supplements may give you the edge at the elite level to enhance your performance ranging around 5-6% provided the client/athlete is using a solid nutrition and training program properly periodized. The rest of the puzzle is ruled by genetics, recovery and rest, and last but not least, your specific sports skill.
Let us explore the most commonly used supplements, so you'll have additional information. Before purchasing, consult your physician or registered dietician.
Why people purchase: Increase strength, muscle endurance, and cognition function.
How it functions: Creatine phosphate is stored in muscles, unique to the individual. It’s the vital source for muscle contraction (ATP). Creatine replaces ATP for continuous work of the muscles. Creatine is naturally found in meat and fish. Animal meat can be synthesized in the liver, kidney, and pancreas from the amino acid (glycine, arginin, methoionine).
Side effects: No long term health benefit found with present research. Some cases have proven to cause upset stomach and aggravate pre-existing kidney issues. Water retention and water weight gain are also possible side effects.
Why people purchase: Reduce joint pain, strengthen cartilage and joint tissue, treat Osteoarthritis, and decrease inflammation.
How it functions: Functions as an aid for your body to produce strong and new tissue as precursors; this is one of the most important factors in joints, as floating glucosamine aids new tissue. Inflammation is the body’s natural healing system. If pain and degeneration occur, with help of glucosamine, it will block the enzyme that the body uses to increase inflammation acting as a pain combatant.
Side effects: Should be avoided by people allergic to shellfish & those who have diabetic conditions, as it might be difficult to control blood sugar conditions.
Why people purchase: Improved immune function, delays or prevents muscle breakdown, promotes muscle growth, and faster recovery.
How it functions: Non-essential amino acid found in blood plasma and muscle in the human body. Present in cells at the gut and in the immune system. Lymphocytes and macrophages in the immune system rely on glutamine as a key. Sickness, trauma, heavy training, stress, and lack of sleep will use up glutamine rapidly and plasma concentrations of glutamine goes down. Reduction in plasma glutamine has been associated with glycogen depletion, immunosuppression, and increased risk for infections eg: Upper Respiratory Tract Infections, Urinary Tract Infections.
Side effects: Stomach pains and diarrhea. Also, large doses may inhibit absorption of other amino acids.
4. NITRIC OXDIE
Why people purchase: Increase muscle and strength, recovery, burn fat, and for the pump.
How it functions: Key component is Arganine, even though your body produces NO, supplements are loaded with mega doses. Through a process of vasodilatation, expanding the blood vessels and increasing the blood flow to the muscles in order to give more nutrients and oxygen.
Side effects: It could drop blood pressure and as of present, no one exactly knows the short & long-term effects on health by continued use.
Why People purchase: Enhance the mood, fat loss, extended energy, increased cardiac output, improve reaction time, mental focus, and even elite level athletes use it to enhance athletic performance, hence all major athletic commission have a restriction on caffeine use. Caffeine is an article by itself for another day and time.
How it functions: By stimulating the central nervous system, it releases adrenaline/epinephrine, forcing your body to exert more energy, additionally it spares glycogen-carbs that are stored in muscles to give more energy over an extended period of time.
Side effect: Acts as a diuretic, increases heart rate, gastrointestinal problems, tremors, insomnia, muscle twitches, irritability, and withdrawal symptoms.
6. DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone)
Why people purchase: Sex drive, reduce premenstrual and menopause symptoms, antidepressant, energy, immunity, prevention and treatment of major heath issues, athletic performance and list goes on. This is supposed to be the best, but research says otherwise and it’s banned by all major sporting organization.
How it functions: Precursor to testosterone, estrone, and estradiol. This hormone will naturally peak in our body up to 30 years and start to decline afterwards. Found in the plasma and the brain tissues.
Side effects Breast tenderness and cancer in women, risk of prostate cancer in men, and liver diseases. More researched details will be available in the future. Keep them out of reach.
7. HMB (Beta hydroxy beta methylbutyrate)
Why people purchase: Lean body mass and strength, quick recovery, possible performance enhancement.
How it works: From the very limited research data and due to Leucin, it influences protein breakdown during times of high stress with decreased catabolism. It is believed to metabolize to HMG-CoA and used in the synthesis of cholesterol to decrease muscle damage.
Side effect: Non-significant finding due to lack of research, advisable to keep it out of reach.
8. EPHEDRA A.K.A. EPHEDRINE
Why people purchase: Rapid fat/weight loss, performance enhancement.
How it functions: This stimulates the central nervous system and is much stronger than caffeine. Even though effective, this is banned in most countries and all the sporting organizations due to high health risk & hazards.
Side effects: Linked with heart attacks, stroke, and death. Do I need to say more? STAY AWAY!
9. BCCA (Branch-chain amino acids)
Why people purchase: Add muscle mass, delay fatigue, and delay protein break down.
How it works: Three (Leucine, Isoleucine & Valine) of nine essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce. Due to this limiting factor, these should be ingested via food. BCCA are oxidized by muscle to produce energy during endurance exercise.
Side effects: Lacks long-term research, blood ammonia, toxic to the brain, stomach/GI track problems
10. WHEY PROTEIN
Why people purchase: Increase strength, water and acid balance, maintain hormone production, Improve immunity, and change body composition.
How it functions: Whey is a better and faster absorption version of protein (branch chained amino acids) for muscle building as BCAA predominant in the muscle. Other proteins such as beef, egg, and vegetable are useful, as they also do have a full spectrum of amino acid released at different time intervals. Whey is best taken post workout at it's best for protein synthesis.
Side effects: If you have a pre-existing renal condition, it is vital that you check with your doctor before consuming this protein.
*This article is for information purposes only; always seek medical advice/your physician’s approval before starting any or all supplements or any exercises/fitness or sports activity.
Ranil Harshana (Coach Ran) DFN, NASM(PES, CES,MMASC), ACE(CPT,CGFT) ACSM(CPT), ISSA(CSSC, CSET, CSPN) , FT(IHP), PTS(UK), Reikii(Level 2)
Coach Ran has over two decades of global experience in training & consulting clients, athletes, and coaches. He specializes in tennis, wheelchair tennis, combat sport, badminton, cricket, athletics, and extreme sports with a training motto of, “Science + Field Work + Experience = High Performance”
He has experience training multiple athletes from Asia Oceanic Davis cup G4- G1, Fed Cup G2-G1, ITF futures, Wheelchair Tennis top 60, WTA&ATP, 2017/2018-Asian Games & SEA Games Gold & Silver medallist, Olympic/Paralympic athletes for 2008, 2012, and 2016. Badminton Junior top 2, Combat sports with multiple World/Asian champions and International Cricketers.
He has lectured on Strength and Conditioning at ITF Level 1 & Level 2 coaches preparing from certification, presented workshops & seminars at ITF Asian Coaches Conference 2010/02017 Worldwide Coaches Conference 2015. Coach Ran has been involved in conducting many “High Performance” camps for Tennis & Combat sports. He is the author of “Tennis Fitness” & creator of STRENGTHATTACK(R) and TENNISBPM(R). For more information, included references used for this article, keep up with Coach Ran on his website, https://strengthattack.com/.
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