To Supplement or not to supplement?


Anyone who is getting into the fitness and athletic world will always be in a fix choosing the best foods to eat before, during, and after the exercise. While some people still don't have faith in the word supplements, others have gained reasonable benefits after incorporating them into their diets each time they are about to hit the gym on go out on roads. Therefore, the big question is, are supplements safe for any athlete?

According to Sharp Elite Nutrition, food supplements are not only meant for gym buddies or athletes. Anyone who dreams of having a toned body should consider adding them to their lists of favorite foods since they come with numerous benefits that are unmatched. The common types of dietary additions for resistance trainers and long-distance runners are Pre-Workouts, BCAA's, and Protein Powders. This article briefly explains what they are and their benefits to any determined body-builder.

What Are Pre-Workouts?

Like any other type of fitness and health wellness foods, the word "pre-workouts" represents a variety of food products meant for a specific reason. From its prefix, pre-workouts are designed to be taken before someone hits the gym or engage in heavy athletic training. This is because these supplements provide more energy, boost focus, strength, endurance, and improve overall performance for the heavy activity ahead. However, what should be worried about is, are the benefits long-term?

Some people are still hesitant to use pre-workout supplements, believing that the effects disappear immediately the supplements wear off in the bodies. The truth is the benefits of the pre-workout outlined below last beyond the actual training. This is because since the supplements give you more energy and reduce recovery time, they also make it more dramatically easier to see the improvements from the training. Therefore, several ingredients are responsible for these lasting benefits, including creatine, beta-alanine, and caffeine found in coffee.

Benefits of Pre-Workout Supplements

From the explanation, pre-workout supplements are supposed to be taken some minutes before engaging in heavy-duty body-building sessions. The recommended time ranges between thirty minutes and one hour for you to realize the benefits of the supplements during the exercises. However, their benefits ultimately depend on the ingredients found in your product of choice and the type of exercise you intend to take.

When going for HIIT exercises, you may want to include more pre-workout supplements in your diet alongside common stimulants like caffeine. The reason is, the human body loses more energy during high-intensity training and needs backup energy to handle the high demands for workouts. Therefore, here are some of the benefits of taking pre-workout supplements before joining the training crew;

They Boost the Energy Level

The fact that you are determined to go to the gym after a long tiresome day or a poor night's sleep deserves congratulations. However, disappointment floods in when you cannot show 100% of your efforts due to low energy levels. Taking pre-workout supplements such as caffeine will help you fight tiredness and boost your energy levels. This allows you to overcome your limits during the training and have stimulated muscle growth.

They Improve Overall Performance

Having increased energy levels allows athletes and gymnasts to train harder, faster, and longer than they would go ordinarily. The results are improved overall performance that sets the trainers a mark higher than they would achieve without these essential supplements. Moreover, more training means more calories are burnt while more muscles are gained. This helps to quickly tone the body during training.

Help Trainers Stay Focused

Using pre-workout supplements does not only stop at physical performance. They go beyond and boost mental health, helping trainers to remain focused during and after training. Every determined athlete and gymnast should realize that general workouts have a significant mental connection. Sometimes, you may easily lose the psyche and quit the training even when you physically feel like you should keep going. Therefore, using pre-workout supplements provides a clean energy boost and keeps your mind focused on the goal. For instance, caffeine helps you concentrate on tasks for longer.

They Reduce Recovery Time

Feeling muscle soreness and fatigue after a heavy workout can be a sign of accomplishing your tasks in the gym or field. However, they can be an obstacle to your recovery time and prevent you from getting back to exercise the following day. Using pre-workout supplements like caffeine, beta-alanine, and creatine can help reduce your recovery time. Faster healing means less interval between workouts and effective performance.

Reduce Protein Breakdown

Your body needs optimal muscle tissues for any exercise to be accomplished. This means the rate of protein breakdown should be at least equal to or lower than protein synthesis. Taking pre-workout supplements adds more amino acids which help to keep your protein levels high. It also saturates your muscle stores and prevents your muscles from being broken down into energy.

What Are BCAAs?

Broken-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are the essential building blocks of protein needed by the body to rebuild and grow new muscles. There are twenty amino acids required for optimal body growth; eleven are produced by the body while nine are acquired through diet. Since your body cannot make these nine amino acids, you need to take them through supplemented diets or powders.

The nine BCAAs include histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. However, out of the nine amino acids, only three are vital for any training individual to maintain optimal body mass. These include isoleucine, leucine, and valine. Moreover, leucine is the most vital amino acid even though it diminishes quickly in the body during exercise and needs regular top-up for further protein synthesis and muscle building.

Benefits of BCAAs

According to the Sharp Elite Nutrition, the ratio of leucine should be higher than isoleucine and valine. For instance, you should take at least 2:1:1 or 4:1:1 as the ratio of leucine to isoleucine and valine before or during the training to perform better and have an increased energy level. However, does this mean that all foods rich in amino acids are equipped with these essential BCAA's?

Broken-Chain Amino Acids are mostly found in protein-rich foods like eggs, meat, and dairy products. They can also be found in dietary supplements sold in powdered form. This explains why it is recommended to drink milk and eat eggs before and after training to provide your body with natural amino acids. Therefore, here are the benefits of taking dietary supplements and eating plenty of foods rich in amino acids;

They Increase Muscle Building

Muscle growth is the major role of BCAAs in the body. This is because the leucine activates a pathway in the body that promotes protein synthesis which increases muscle building. For instance, one study revealed that people who drink at least 5.6 grams of BCAAs in their drinks after a resistance workout have an increased muscle protein synthesis of 22% higher than those who take ordinary drinks. However, this muscle protein synthesis is approximately 50% less than what could be realized after taking a protein shake containing the same amount of BCAAs. This means BCAAs work better when mixed with other essential amino acids found in whey protein.

They Reduce Muscle Soreness

It is not a surprise to feel little dizziness and muscle soreness for one or two days after exercises, especially when you are a new athlete. This type of soreness called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) appears between 12 and 24 hours after heavy training and can go up to 72 hours. Although the exact cause of DOMS is not yet known, some researchers believe that it is caused by tiny muscle tears after exercise.

Taking BCAAs before exercise help to reduce protein breakdown lowering the level of creatine kinase, an indicator of muscle damage. Therefore, people who take BCAAS supplements before squat exercises have reduced DOMS and muscle fatigue. They also have increased recovery speed which reduces the breaks between workouts.

Prevent Muscle Wasting

During exercise, the protein in the body is constantly broken down and rebuilt (synthesized) to provide the body with the required energy for resistance training. The ratio between muscle breakdown and synthesis determines the amount of protein in the body. Therefore, when the rate of muscle protein breakdown exceeds the rate of muscle protein synthesis, the body experiences muscle wasting. This can only be prevented by taking supplements rich in BCAAs.

BCAAs contribute almost 35% of the essential amino acids found in the muscle proteins and 40% of the total amino acids needed by the body during exercises. Therefore, it is recommended that athletes and gymnasts should take plenty of foods and powered supplements rich in BCAAs to slow down muscle wasting during exercise. Muscle wasting is an indicator of malnutrition and is associated with chronic infections, cancer, periodic fasting, and the natural aging process.

Benefit People with Liver Disease

BCAAs are not only meant for athletes but also for people with liver disease. Almost 50% of people suffering from liver cirrhosis have hepatic encephalopathy; a brain dysfunction when the liver fails to detoxify the blood. Although some sugars and antibiotics help to treat hepatic encephalopathy, BCAAs are also believed to prevent the disease. For instance, 16 studies conducted on 827 people showed that BCAA supplements have a positive effect on people with hepatic encephalopathy but not on its mortality. BCAAs also benefit people with hepatocellular carcinoma, one of the common forms of liver cancer.

What Are Protein Powders?

Protein is an essential element in the body, whether you are a body-builder or not. The main source of protein is a food rich in these elements. However, after seeing numerous developments in the food industry, people can now get proteins in the powered form sold as supplements. These are what they call protein powders.

Protein powder is a popular nutrition supplement among athletes and contains essential macronutrients that help to build muscles, repair broken tissues, and promote the production of enzymes and hormones. However, the use of protein powders is not only limited to the fitness world, but people who are conscious about their health also integrate them into their diet for healthier living.

Benefits of Protein Powders

The benefits of protein powder vary depending on each type taken and the daily activities. The common types of protein powders include whey, casein, soy, pea, and hemp. However, whey is the most vital type that researchers tend to focus on due to its confirmed benefits. This is because whey is a complete protein that contains all the essential amino acids. Besides being quickly absorbed by the body, here are other benefits of whey protein;

 Help in Muscles Growth

The main reason for engaging in body-building activities is to gain muscles and have a toned body. This can be achieved by taking protein powders. For instance, many athletes and gymnasts would be seen taking protein shakes because they believe these shakes will promote muscle growth after tremendous workouts. However, excess consumption of protein powders leading to over 1.6grams per kilogram of body weight has no health benefits to the body.

Help in Weight Management

If you are hitting the gym because of overweight or obesity, the main focus revolves around the best supplements for weight management. Taking protein-rich foods makes people feel fuller for longer, which reduces frequent snacking. This, in turn, helps to maintain a healthy weight or weight loss. Therefore, taking protein powders reduces body weight and total fat mass. It also helps to manage blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and cardiovascular risks.

They Provide Added Nutrition

According to dietitians, the recommended daily protein intake for people above nineteen years is 46grams for women and 56grams for men. However, since meeting these amounts can be challenging for some people like vegans and vegetarians, taking protein powders can be the easiest source of protein. Moreover, athletes, weight-lifters, and people with chronic diseases are advised to exceed the general protein intake ratio for healthier living. For example, people engaging in intense sports can take up to twice the recommended intake; that is, between 111 and 159grams per day for those who weigh 175lb.

Bottom Line

Pre-workouts, BCAA supplements, and protein powders are generally beneficial to athletes, older adults, those fighting chronic diseases, vegetarians, and vegans. Their common benefits include weight management, muscle building, and reduced recovery time. However, the benefits may not be seen in all people since the amount of supplements taken and the type of daily activities determine how the supplements will work in everybody. Therefore, before taking any powdered supplements sold at Sharp Elite Nutrition, you may need to consult your trainer or nutritionist for the right dosage.