If you’re looking to maximise athletic performance, you may have considered taking workout supplements. Picture: Pexels
If you’re looking to maximise athletic performance, you may have considered taking workout supplements. Picture: Pexels

Workout supplements 101

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Jul 12, 2021

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A nutrition guide and a good fitness plan go hand in hand.

It’s worth remembering that a healthy eating lifestyle can help you obtain most of the essential nutrients to create the body you desire. But eating all the food groups that our body needs isn’t always possible.

If you’re looking to maximise athletic performance, you may have considered taking workout supplements.

Understanding the key players when it comes to workout supplements can be intimidating. Here are some of the buzz supplements in the fitness industry right now.

Omy Naidoo, a registered dietician and co-founder of Newtricion Wellness Dieticians explains what they are and what they do in your body.

Carbohydrates are the body's primary source of energy or fuel therefore you need a good quality carbohydrate intake so that you have adequate energy levels before, during and after training. This is even more important during resistance training

Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s), essential amino acids, which umbrella 3 amino acids, namely valine, isoleucine and leucine. The body cannot produce these so they have to be consumed in your diet.

BCAA’s are needed for building muscle mass and maintaining good muscles. They are considered “anabolic” meaning they help you build mass. Having good muscle stores is not only key for bodybuilders, but in general for those wanting to lose weight, increasing muscle mass helps to increase your metabolism.

Electrolytes are minerals which carry a charge. They have various functions including hydration, muscle contracting, heart beat, as well as help produce energy. So they have a vital role for your body function during physical activity but also after physical activity in the recovery phase

Leucine is important for protein synthesis and many metabolic functions. Leucine contributes to regulation of blood-sugar levels; growth and repair of muscle and bone tissue; growth hormone production; and wound healing. It is the one BCAA that has been strongly linked to promoting muscle growth

Vitamins are substances which are needed by the body for normal functioning. With regards to fitness B vitamins are required for energy production to assist with endurance activities and other exercises. Very often a broad multivitamin would cover an athlete's requirements. Some vitamins such as Vitamin D are needed in order for the body to absorb other items such as calcium (important for muscle contractions) and phosphorus (important for energy production)

Choline is essential for the normal function of the body and one of its functions is to help metabolise fat in the body. The body does make choline but in small amounts, the majority is derived from a person's diet.

Some supplements are unregulated and can be advertised to have health benefits but have no clinical trials demonstrating safety or effectiveness. Before buying any supplements, it's recommended to research the products, talk to your doctor or health professional and track your own progress.

Reading the labels and ingredients in the supplement you choose is always the first step when doing your homework on what will work best for you.

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