Sports Nutrition Supplements
What Are Sports Supplements?
Sports supplements (also called ergogenic aids) are products used
to enhance athletic performance. They come in different forms, including
vitamins, synthetic (manmade) drugs, and hormones, most of which are available
over the counter without a prescription.
Anabolic steroids are hormones that help the body build muscle tissue
and increase muscle mass. Steroids, also known as roids or juice, are
similar to the male hormone testosterone, which is produced naturally
in larger amounts in guys' bodies and smaller amounts in girls' bodies.
When a person takes steroids, the body's muscle tissue is stimulated to
grow, producing larger and stronger muscles. But steroids can have some
unwelcome, serious side effects.
Androstenedione and DHEA
Androstenedione and dehydroepiandrosterone (also known as DHEA) are other
popular nutritional supplements. Androstenedione and DHEA are prohormones
or "natural steroids" that can be broken down into testosterone. The effects
of steroidal supplements aren't well known, but it's thought that when
taken in large doses, they cause effects similar to stronger anabolic
steroids. What is known is that andro and DHEA can cause hormone imbalances
in people who use them. Both may have the same effects as taking anabolic
steroids and may lead to dangerous side effects.
Creatine is already manufactured by the body in the liver, kidneys, and
pancreas, and it occurs naturally in foods such as meat and fish. If a
person takes creatine supplements, the extra creatine is stored in the
muscles, and some people think it gives them an energy boost during workouts
or competitions. Creatine is one of the most popular nutritional supplements.
No serious side effects have been documented in persons who follow the
manufacturer's recommended dosing guidelines for creatine supplementation.
Fat burners (thermogenics) are often made with an herb called ephedra,
also known as ephedrine, which speeds up the nervous system and increases
metabolism. Some teens use fat burners to lose weight or to increase energy.
Ephedra-based products can cause heart problems, stroke.
Although the bodybuilding community was first to use HMB, endurance
athletes have picked up on it, as well. Some believe that HMB is effective
at building strength, increasing lean body mass, and enhancing recovery
(because it slows muscle protein breakdown). There are also possible cholesterol-
and blood pressure-lowering benefits to HMB. However, much more information
is needed before its safety and effectiveness are fully understood.
The current Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), according to the USDA,
is 0.8 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight, which would be approximately
64 grams of protein for a 175-pound man. Whey and casein proteins are
protein powders derived from cow's milk. They are separated out during
the cheese-making process. Whey and casein proteins provide amino acids
(the building blocks of muscle tissue) that can also be obtained by eating
high-protein foods. Consuming these proteins in excess of your desired
caloric intake can cause weight gain, however.