The sport supplement industry is stacked with products that claim to optimise physical performance and give athletes an edge and/or improve their recuperative ability. Due to less than stringent regulatory practices a manufacturer can make claims for their products that will never in reality stack up but will probably drain your wallet. Below however are six whose efficacy are supported by research:
Omega 3 Fish Oil
Fish oils are a primary source of omega-3 fatty acids that offer numerous health benefits, as well as additional performance-enhancing effects, such as increasing muscle growth, improving strength and optimal physical performance, reducing exercise-induced muscle damage and delayed-onset muscle soreness, combating negative immune effects of intensive training, strengthening bones, improving heart and lung functioning, and enhancing cognitive functioning. Below is a summary of the research to support fish oil’s performance-enhancing benefits.
Fish oil increases protein synthesis
It has been theorised that fish oils may improve the anabolic (muscle building) effect of exercise. Research has concluded that omega-3 fatty acids used in conjunction with an anabolic stimulus (e.g. physical activity, protein, insulin) can improve protein metabolism . Other reviews have stated that compelling evidence exists for the combination of omega-3 fatty acids with an anabolic stimulus to improve lean body mass function and quality .
Fish oil increases muscle strength and helps to optimise physical performance
Research results suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may optimise physical performance by positively influencing muscle function, helping to improve muscular strength and functional capacity.
Creatine increases muscular force and power
This substance has been researched probably more than any other ergogenic aid utilised to optimise physical performance. Evidence from training literature indicates that athletes benefit from creatine supplementation by increasing muscular force and power, reducing fatigue, and increasing muscle mass. Creatine increases muscle size by pulling water into its cells. Additionally new research has shown that creatine assists with the buffering of lactic acid that accumulates in the muscles during exercise.
There is some data to indicate that creatine helps put the body in a more anabolic state for protein synthesis to occur. in short-term trials, the average effect of creatine supplementation is to enhance the performance of muscle force and increase mean muscle mass. Creatine could thus be seen to be beneficial in the enhancement of short-term high-intensity physical activity. The results gained from muscle endurance tests however, indicate that creatine would be unlikely to optimise physical performance in sports where prolonged activity is needed.
BCAAs(Branch chain amino acids)
BCAAs help prevent post-exercise muscle soreness by impeding exercise-induced muscle damage and helping stimulate growth and repair.
Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), include the essential amino acids valine, leucine and isoleucine, and can be taken in supplement form before, during or after a workout to improve exercise performance and endurance in addition to potentially aiding in muscle recovery. Several studies have proven that BCAAs, specifically valine, can potentially help reduce serotonin levels and help prevent tryptophan from entering the brain as a means of bypassing exercise fatigue.
BCAAs can also potentially help prevent post-exercise muscle soreness by impeding exercise-induced muscle damage and helping stimulate growth and repair. The amino acid leucine for example stimulates muscle growth in two ways. First, it triggers muscle protein synthesis, secondly it can also potentially increase insulin levels to help create a protein-synthesising anabolic environment. BCAAs can potentially help enhance muscle growth by increasing growth-hormone levels and reducing cortisol levels.
Leucine triggers muscle protein synthesis,
Leucine is one of the three branched-chain amino acids and is unique in its ability to stimulate skeletal muscle protein synthesis. Even if an individual already ingests sufficient protein there is evidence that supplemental leucine may be beneficial, as leucine may amplify the peak anabolic response to food and may also extend the duration of protein synthesis when taken after a meal.
The protein content of whole food takes considerable time to be digested and enter circulation. Thus, blood concentrations of leucine increase slowly and plateau at a lower level when a whole protein source is consumed. Even ingesting a fast-digesting protein such as whey, it can take hours for the leucine to enter circulation therefore, leucine concentrations in the blood never spike to high levels. An isolated leucine supplement, however, would be quickly absorbed into circulation increasing leucine concentrations and activating the anabolic pathways.
Beta – Alanine
Beta alanine has been shown to optimise physical performance by boosting explosive muscular strength and power output. It also increases muscle mass. Research indicates that it also Boosts both aerobic and anaerobic endurance. It therefore Increases exercise capacity enabling harder and longer training .
From the data available to date, including an exercise performance meta analysis, it can be concluded that beta-alanine supplementation elicits a significant ergogenic effect on high-intensity exercise, particularly in exercise capacity tests and measures, and where the exercise lasts between 1 and 4 min.
Although beta-alanine does not directly improve maximal strength or VO2max, some aspects of endurance performance, such as anaerobic threshold and time to exhaustion, can be significantly enhanced.
whey will optimise physical performance by increasing muscle synthesis post exercise
Whey protein is utilised by athletes, bodybuilders, as well as people looking to improve training performance. it is usually ingested for the purpose of increasing muscle mass and strength.
Whey protein has been shown to be particularly effective at increasing muscle growth when consumed right before, after or during a workout, but muscle protein synthesis is usually maximised in the time period shortly after training .
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in physical performance optimization
Effects Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids On Sports & Athletic Performance – EAS Academy
Leucine supplementation and intensive training.
Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis
Clinical pharmacology of the dietary supplement creatine monohydrate.
Signaling pathways and molecular mechanisms through which branched-chain amino acids mediate translational control of protein synthesis.
Whey Protein 101: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide
The insulinogenic effect of whey protein is partially mediated by a direct effect of amino acids and GIP on β-cells
Whey protein improves exercise performance and biochemical profiles in trained mice
Supplemental protein in support of muscle mass and health: advantage whey.
Effect of whey protein isolate on strength, body composition and muscle hypertrophy during resistance training.