Athletes need to maintain an excellent base diet that delivers adequate macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats and of course water). There are many opinions on the optimal proportions of each macronutrient and these recommendations change depending on an athlete’s particular sport. For instance, the macronutrient demands of a triathlete are very different from that of a strength athlete.
One thing every athlete has in common is the need for adequate micronutrient intake in the form of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Most of these needs are met by a diet rich in lean meats, vegetables and fruits. (Vegetarians can meet these needs without meats, with a carefully planned diet). Conventional sports nutrition advice dictates that a person can get all the nutrients they need from a ‘balanced’ diet, and no additional gains in performance will occur with any type of nutritional supplementation.
However, cutting edge research in functional medicine shows that athletes can indeed boost performance using additional, supplemental amounts of specific performance enhancing nutrients. There are no miracle supplements, however supplementing with key nutrients can provide a slight boost to performance and recovery, and may provide enough of an edge to gain a podium spot. These nutrients include:
Mediclear: A rice and pea-based protein, Mediclear doubles as a clean protein source as well as a rich source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and detox cofactors to help your body refuel and provide optimal cellular nutrition
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCCA): These include valine, leucine and isoleucine. BCCAs, when taken during exercise will improve energy levels, improve power output and even prevent the mental fatigue that occurs during intense endurance efforts. Taken post-exercise, they are potent stimulators of muscle repair and building (post exercise is when the natural breakdown of muscle occurs) and reduce recovery time. You can add a powdered form of BCCAs to your sports drink (5 grams) for during exercise, and to your post-workout drink following (5 grams).
Glutamine: Has a specific role in rebuilding muscle and recovery. Glutamine is also a main fuel source for white blood cells; blood levels of glutamine become depleted during and after exercise and this may explain in part why some athletes are more prone to getting infections. Taken throughout the day during heavy periods of training, glutamine can help keep your immune system up (and help rebuild muscle). A solid dose is 10 grams in divided doses on heavy training days.
Creatine is one of the most researched and effective supplements available. Popular among body builders, it is also useful for all other athletes because of its ability to increase lean muscle mass, increase power and strength, improve speed and anaerobic (shorter bouts of effort) endurance. A good starting point is 3-10 grams a day for a period of 2-3 months.
Nitric Oxide Support promotes healthy blood circulation and delivery of oxygen to working muscles. Because of this effect, research has shown that supplementation can increase strength, enhance immune system function, buffer lactic acid production, and even support healthy levels of anabolic hormones.
Electrolyte Energy Formula, which serves as a healthy sports drink, without all the food coloring, high fructose corn syrup and brominated vegetable oil found in commercial drinks.
Glycemic Formula is great for supporting blood sugar and keeping it balanced. It works by improving the way your body metabolizes sugar, or glucose.