Sports nutrition is a fast-growing industry with proteins, energy gels and supplements being popular sports nutrition products solely used by bodybuilders and athletes now being used by the majority of the population. Research from Mintel finds that as many as one in four (24%) of the British public have consumed a sports nutrition product in the past 3 months, with the highest segment being 42% of men aged 16-24.
UK consumers spent £66 million on popular sports nutrition food and drink products in 2015, up by 27% from 2013 when sales stood at £52 million. And it seems that rather than an occasional added extra, these products are now store-cupboard staples. Almost half (47%) of consumers who use the products say these are part of their everyday diet.
Creatine monohydrate is the most popular sports nutrition supplements on the market today. It is the single best-selling workout supplement of all time and has more published human studies showing its safety and efficacy than any other supplement in history.
Creatine first came to the public’s attention in the early 90s, after it was reported that Linford Christie had used it in his training before clinching the 100m gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Nowadays, it is a staple ingredient for anyone involved in high-intensity sports that require fast and explosive movements, such as football, rugby, boxing and weightlifting.
Creatine is often referred to as “ergogenic”, which means that it has been proven to enhance physical performance in sport. A daily intake of 3000mg of creatine has been shown to:
- Increase muscle strength
- Increase muscle power output
- Increase muscle speed
- Increase lean muscle mass
It can alter numerous cellular pathways that lead to new muscle growth, including boosting the formation of proteins that create muscle fibres. Consuming creatine as part of a workout also increases the water content within the muscles, which can quickly increase the size.
When it comes to building and preserving muscle mass, protein is one of the most important and popular sports nutrition supplements in the world. Regular consumption of protein, particularly in the ‘anabolic window’ that immediately follows exercise, contributes to the significant growth and repair of muscle fibres.
Protein is not gender-specific, meaning that its benefits can extend to men and women of all ages, body types and fitness levels.
The average person requires approx. 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight every day. However, this requirement is larger for those who regularly take part in endurance training (approx. 1.2g/kg) or strength training (approx. 2g/kg).
The most common plant protein is soy protein, as it closely resembles the amino acid profile of milk-based proteins. Soy protein is considered a complete protein as it provides all the essential amino acids and can contain up to 90% protein. Derived from soybeans, as well as protein, you gain a large quantity of fibre, as well as being naturally rich in vitamins and minerals.
Other plant-based protein powders include pea, rice, hemp and quinoa – all of which have their own unique flavour, texture, amino acid profile and price tag. While providing a vegan-friendly option, most plant-based protein from a single source are typically incomplete proteins. However, some of these plants can be blended together to ensure that the finished product is classed as ‘complete’.
To maintain a complete protein profile, blending two or more types of plant proteins together can create a fantastic vegan-friendly product that has the same, if not more protein content as whey protein without any negative symptoms associated with whey protein such as bloating and gas.
Global Omega 3 sales were around 33 billion US dollars in 2016 and are now set to rise to an estimated 57 billion US dollars by 2025, according to Grand View Research. Omega 3 fatty acids are extremely important as they contain powerful health benefits for the body and brain, making it a popular sports nutrition product.
Omega 3s come in three types: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Long-chain fatty acids, EPA and DHA, are found in fish, fish oil supplements, and algae extract. The short-chain form, ALA, is found in plant sources like nuts, flax seed, chia seeds, avocado, and olive oil.
Omega 3 speeds up exercise recovery after tough training sessions. The muscles are full of microscopic tears that when healed, make the muscles stronger and bigger. Omega 3’s anti-inflammatory compounds help make recovery happen.
Another part of omega 3’s heart health benefit is that they decrease heart rate and the amount of oxygen that the body burns every minute. When competing in sports, this is huge as during every minute of exercise, one person’s body needs more than their competitor.
Leucine is one of the BCAAs that are so important in assisting muscular health. Leucine is one of the most essential amino acids, because of the potency of its functions including stimulating muscle growth, its ability to modulate insulin sensitivity and its carbolic effect on fat.
Leucine also has many beneficial effects on sports performance, helping to preserve lean muscle tissue and supplying the body with energy while under the stress of physical exercise. It provides muscle glycogen and maintains nitrogen balance. Leucine also enhances thinking abilities that can decline as physical activity becomes intense.
If a person suffers from a deficiency in leucine, it will not be able to make use of any proteins consumed, no matter how much protein you consume.
Glucosamine plays a vital role in building cartilage with many people consuming it as a supplement in and out of sports performance. It is often used to treat arthritis and osteoarthritis and occurs naturally in the fluid around the joints and in animal bones.
Glucosamine is vital for building cartilage, a flexible and tough connective tissue found in several parts of the body. This firm, rubbery tissue functions as padding at the ends of long bones where they meet joints. As the body ages, the cartilage becomes less flexible and can steadily break down.
Some researchers think the “sulfate” part of glucosamine sulfate is also important. Sulfate is needed by the body to produce cartilage. This is one reason why researchers believe that glucosamine sulfate might work better than other forms of glucosamine such as glucosamine hydrochloride or N-acetyl glucosamine.
Your body requires vitamins and minerals to function effectively. Unfortunately, in the busy lives of the current generations, a balanced meal providing the required vitamins and minerals is not an everyday routine. To provide the body with the correct amounts of nutrients, more and more consumers use a multivitamin. Multivitamins are a combination of different vitamins normally found in food sources and fill the gaps so the consumer meets the recommended daily intake.
When the body doesn’t receive its recommended daily intake of vitamins, it has to work harder to perform every day tasks, which can lead to fatigue and other health problems.
In terms of sports nutrition, free radicals are often responsible for muscle ageing and related problems. Taking multivitamins daily can help to keep any damaging free radicals in check. They also boost the immune system, making the athletic user less likely to fall ill before a competition or workout session.
Green tea is tea made with only the leaves of a special plant native to Asia, the Camellia sinensis. Black tea is made from the same plant, but the two teas are different because of the way they are processed. Green teas are the least processed and the method preserves more of the nutrients compared to the methods of other teas.
Green tea has been used for thousands of years; it originated in China and took over most cultures in Asia. In recent decades, it’s also gotten extremely popular in the West because of its major health benefits.
Some studies have found green tea extract, which is rich in polyphenols and catechins, to be useful for obesity management since it induces thermogenesis and stimulates fat oxidation. A type of catechin prevalent in green tea, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), is said to increase resting metabolism and stimulate fat-burning.
Caffeine is one of the most heavily researched and beneficial ergogenic aids available. It is mostly consumed in coffee, with 1 cup containing around 75mg of caffeine. The understanding of the performance effect of caffeine has increased and this has widened its use.
Caffeine acts centrally on the brain to lower the perception of effort, which is particularly noticeable in longer events such as running or cycling. In distance events over 90 minutes, mental tiredness, as well as physical fatigue, plays a large role in determining performance as the event progresses. Caffeine can help to maintain physical performance in this situation.
For a 150-pound (68 kg) athlete, the recommended dose of caffeine is about 200 mg one hour before exercise.
One of glutamine’s main roles in the body is to support detoxification by cleansing the body from high levels of ammonia. It acts as a buffer and converts excess ammonia into other amino acids, amino sugars and urea.
Doing approximately one hour of exercise can cause a 40 percent reduction of glutamine in the body. It can also cause suppressed immune function. This has a negative impact on your resistance training and may lead to overtraining syndrome.
L-glutamine benefits long distance athletes as well by boosting the immune system. Supplementing with L-glutamine also allows your muscles to fight and push a bit further, which boosts your strength and helps repair your skeletal muscles.
Nitric oxide is produced by almost every type of cell in the human body and is one of the most important molecules for blood vessel health. Supplements that increase nitric oxide within the body are slowly becoming more and more popular within the sports nutrition world.
Nitric oxide supplements not only increase nitric oxide production but also decrease muscle soreness, lowers blood pressure and boosts exercise performance.
As nitric oxide is involved in many cell processes including the widening of blood vessels, which helps to increase the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to work muscles during exercise and enhancing exercise performance.