Sport supplements - do’s and don’ts

Following the recent publication of The World Anti-Doping Agency’s report on Russia, in which, Russia was alleged to be undertaking ‘state-sponsored doping’ with ‘systemic cheating and cover-ups within Russian athletics’. We look at some of the healthier options for supplementing your workout.

Of course there are many ways to ‘improve’ your game with harmful substances, but in the interest of keeping healthy and playing fair, we have chosen to summarise some of the supplements we recommend that you can take to raise your game safely and healthily.

Caffeine Drinking coffee is often recommended to boost a workout but where is the evidence? Well, an evidence-based review study published just this week, in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, evaluated the effects of pre-exercise coffee on endurance performance and the effects of coffee on perceived exertion during endurance performance. Significant improvements in endurance performance were observed in five of nine studies. Three studies found that coffee reduced perceived exertion significantly more than under control conditions (p<0.05).

Based on the reviewed studies there is moderate evidence to support the use of coffee as an aid to improve performance in endurance cycling and running. The study recommended that coffee providing 3-8.1mg/kg of caffeine could be used as a safe alternative to the anhydrous caffeine used in the reviewed studies.

Turmeric (curcumin) Turmeric has been used extensively in traditional Indian medicine for a variety of maladies. There is evidence that the active ingredient in turmeric (curcumin) when taken orally is likely to reduce pain associated with delayed onset muscle soreness (the achy feeling you get after you exercise) with some evidence for enhanced recovery of muscle performance. Turmeric in its raw state is not easily absorbed by the body however, so Cambridge Nutraceuticals’ Ateronon Active product uses a patented combination of lecithin and turmeric which has been shown to be 30x more bioavailable than ‘standard’ turmeric.

Beetroot Earlier this month a study was published which reviewed the effects of beetroot juice supplementation in reducing muscle damage following eccentric exercise. The study found that beetroot juice supplementation reduced muscle soreness and decreases in exercise performance induced by eccentric exercise. However again further research on the anti-inflammatory effects of beetroot juice are required to understand just how beetroot has a positive effect.

As with everything, the best way forward is a healthy balance of diet and exercise, but if you want to give your workouts a health boost we suggest you try caffeine, turmeric and beetroot, but maybe not all together in a smoothie.

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