Ask the expert: From amino acids to creatine - what’s the story with all these sports supplements?
Ronnie Caroll, gym owner and proprietor of BodyFirst Nutrition, helps to dispel the myths surrounding sports supplements and outline the benefits associated with adding an energy boost to your daily routine.
Back in the day there was a lot of confusion and stigma around health supplements, and lots of people were under the impression that anything labelled as a 'supplement' was just for bodybuilders.
These days more and more people are coming to terms with the different products and their various benefits for sports and recovery. Aside from vitamins, minerals and fish oils, my favourite supplements are:
Protein is essential for recovery after exercise as it helps the body to repair, rebuild and grow muscle. Having protein after exercise helps minimise DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) by fuelling your body with the nutrients needed for optimal recovery.
Having a diet high in protein is also extremely beneficial for your hair, skin, nails, blood and hormone levels, so whey protein can also be taken in throughout the day as a cheap way of increasing your daily protein intake.
For vegans and those with a dairy/lactose intolerance, there are also products containing artichoke, pea and rice protein isolate which are just as good
BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) are a collective of three amino acids that are excellent for improving sports performance and endurance by stopping lactic acid build up during exercise.
They're also a great way of stopping the breakdown of muscle tissue (catabolism), and are proven to have a significant effect on helping with recovery. This means you can train harder, for longer. They also come in the form of calorie free, flavoured products that you can sip during your workout (most importantly they taste amazing!)
Creatine is the most studied sports supplement of all time, and it also proves to have some of the greatest benefits.
Creatine is an organic acid produced in our body that helps supply energy to cells all around the body, particularly muscle cells. This means that you will be able to lift heavier, run further and dig deeper.
As a result of the extra energy it gives you, your body will end up burning more calories which makes creatine great for people looking to lose body fat.
The best thing about it is that it's extremely cheap, and all our body needs is 5 grams a day to get the most out of it
Everybody has days where they don't feel 100 percent and need a little kick to get out there and exercise. Pre workout products mostly consist of caffeine and essential amino acids which give you energy, as well as improving blood flow and performance.
You're not going to need one every day, but if you're having one of “those days” they can be a life saver