Breaking Down the Details on Athletic Performance Supplements
The internet is full of claims about supplements meant to help you build mass, speed recovery, and enhance performance, but the science behind these claims isn’t always there.
Three supplements that are supported by science and widely used by professionals in the health and wellness industry are caffeine, creatine, and protein. All of these can be found in foods you eat every day but you can also add a little extra to your diet by mixing a powdered supplement into your food and drink for the day.
Studies have shown that caffeine possesses ergogenic effects, or effects that enhance performance, stamina, or ability. While there are a number of mechanisms of action that link caffeine to these effects, the main source of caffeine’s effects comes from its interactions with your central nervous system.
When caffeine enters your brain, it can change your perception of a number of factors like muscle pain and your level of exertion. Caffeine could even influence your ability to generate force through skeletal muscles. On top of these physical benefits, since caffeine is mainly impacting your brain, it can also affect your focus, mood, and alertness.
As far as the research goes, most studies focus on potential applications for endurance sports athletes like runners, swimmers, cyclists, and cross-country skiers. Still, there is evidence to support the use of caffeine in the pursuit of increased muscle strength and power as well as endurance.
Finding a beneficial ergogenic dose of caffeine can take some dialing in. The guidelines for dosage recommend 3-6 mg per kg of body weight taken 30-90 minutes before exercise. While you can get your caffeine naturally from things like coffee, tea, and cocoa, you can also get your caffeine from energy drinks and pre-workout supplements.
As an ergogenic supplement, creatine monohydrate has been shown to be highly effective at increasing lean body mass as well as aiding in high-intensity exercises.
Increasing the available free creatine, which makes up a third of your intramuscular creatine, and phosphocreatine, which accounts for the other two-thirds of all intramuscular creatine, in your muscles allowed you to do more work in a single session due to the positive response in acute exercise capacity. The more work you do, the more you increase your strength, improve your performance, and build muscle mass. It doesn’t hurt that creatine has also shown potential as a recovery aid.
You can get your creatine from red meat and seafood or you can let your liver and kidneys synthesize your body’s own creatine from arginine and glycine amino acids. As far as daily supplementation goes, you need to replenish around 1-3 grams of creatine per day to make up for what you use and keep your creatine levels stable. This means taking 3-5 grams per day of a creatine monohydrate supplement.
While most of your protein intake should generally come from food, protein powders and other protein supplements can be useful when facing time constraints, food intolerances, and allergies, or reaching for a higher amount of protein than you’re used to.
Muscle hypertrophy, or making your muscles bigger, requires protein to synthesize new muscle tissue. Science points to an optimal protein intake for athletes of around 1.6-3 grams of protein per kg of your own body weight every day, so someone that weighs 75 kgs would need at least 120 grams of protein a day. But the general recommendation for the average individual is only 0.25-0.4 grams of protein for each kg of body weight which shakes out to be around 20-40 grams per meal on average or 60-120 grams per day.
Protein is a complex organic compound, and as such cannot be taken whole from food into our bodies. First, our bodies need to break the protein down into amino acids that it can later use to build the specific proteins that our body needs in the places it needs them.
There are essential amino acids, non essential amino acids, and conditional amino acids, all of which serve specific and unique purposes. The most vital of the three, somewhat obviously, are the essential amino acids. Most of these can be absorbed from animal products including dairy.
One of the most effective types of protein is whey protein as studies have shown it to be highly effective at muscle protein synthesis. This is because whey is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids. Whey also stands above other protein supplements in that it is more easily digested, offers more bioavailability, and has a higher level of leucine and ratio of amino acids. Whey protein comes in three levels of processing with hydrolyzed whey being the highest quality, fastest absorbing, and easiest to digest.
Get More Protein in Your Day with Allo and Athletes Kitchen
One of the easiest ways to add more protein to your day is to put protein powder in your daily cup of coffee or tea. Allo protein powder for hot coffee is designed specifically to be added to any drink, hot or cold, without clumping.
Allo protein powders and protein creamers are sugar-free, gluten-free, and lactose free made with hydrolyzed whey protein and professionally crafted flavors. Grab a tub of Allo in your favorite flavor or keep a few pre-portioned packets in your desk, glove compartment, or gym bag so you can Allo your coffee anywhere you go.
Pair your Allo coffee, tea, match, espresso, or hot chocolate with a healthy, organic meal from Athletes Kitchen. Every meal is made with fresh, organic, locally sourced ingredients and is balanced to deliver the protein, fiber, and nutrients you need to keep your body happy and healthy.