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Articles > Three Sport Supplements
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1. Protein
2. Creatine
3. Glutamine

Protein the Ideal Sport Supplement

Used to be that it was mostly the bodybuilders or extreme athletes that used protein supplements, but not any more. Many of us are realizing that we do not eat a well enough balanced diet to ensure we are getting enough nutrition all around. Protein supplements are an easy and convenient source to ensure we are going to have enough energy to get through our day.

The benefits to protein supplements are to restore and repair all tissue structures, build up muscles, and are the key to such bodily functions as the production of cells and hormones.

There are many different types of proteins, whey protein is the most common and of the highest quality. Protein supplements help supply amino acids to our body and are often used to help repair and build muscle after a workout. Sources rich with proteins include meats, soy products, vegetable and dairy.

In a nutshell, the benefit to protein supplements is convenience. It is easier to drink a protein shake or eat a protein bar than it is to prepare food all day. Yes all day, as a body builder you need to be eating small frequent meals of protein every three hours in order to keep your body constantly in positive nitrogen balance.

It is almost impossible to eat this often for us normal hard working people. If you are a body builder looking to build extra muscle then you should consume a minimum of 1 - 1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean bodyweight. Let us say that your lean body weight is 200 lbs. Therefore, you would need to eat around 300 grams of protein (200 x 1.5 = 300) per day. To obtain that much protein you would need to eat 3 - 4 oz. chicken breast, 2 - 4 oz. steaks, 1 - 6 oz. can of tuna, and 15 hard boiled eggs everyday. That is a lot of food and would cost a lot of money to eat this much.

Body builders who are highly active in physical activity are breaking down muscle at a much higher rate than a sedentary person and need to consume much more protein in order to maintain and to build new muscle.

What is creatine and what can it do for me?

Creatine is a natural substance that is essential for activities that involve high intensity muscle contractions. It is produced naturally in the kidneys, liver, and pancreas but can also be obtained through the consumption of foods rich in creatine, such as red meats and fish, particularly herring and mackerel. The body requires, on average, two grams of creatine per day. Typically only one gram of creatine is obtained through our dietary intake with the deficit being made up by the body.

Creatine plays a significant role in the production of energy for activities that involve sudden bursts of high intensity. Creatine, which binds with phosphate to produce creatine phosphate, is used by the phosphagen system to increase the availability of adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP), which provides energy for the active muscles. The phosphagen system is one of three energy systems that the body uses to generate energy for activity and is the first to be used during athletic activities.

To generate energy the phosphagen system breaks down adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP) into adenosine di-phosphate (ADP). Because there is a limited supply of ATP stored in the muscles, the phosphagen system can only provide energy for high intensity exercises for a short duration, approximately 10 seconds. During periods of intense activity the body uses the phosphate from creatine phosphate to convert ADP back into ATP. The increased availability of ATP to the active muscles allows the body to sustain a high level of power output without experiencing fatigue or a decline in performance. The purpose of taking creatine supplements is to increase the availability of creatine phosphate for the regeneration of ADP into ATP, and thus provide more energy.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM, 2000) has adopted the following statement on the use of creatine as an ergogenic aid. Creatine supplements can be used to enhance exercise performance on tasks that involve short periods of extremely powerful anaerobic activity. Creatine supplementation can also enhance strength gains during strength training programs. The ACSM panel also states that, over time, daily doses of 3 grams of creatine are as effective as doses of 20 grams for increasing the amount of creatine phosphate stored in the muscles. The panel found no consistent or definitive evidence to support claims that creatine supplementation caused muscle cramping, or gastrointestinal and/or renal complications. The panel, however, suggested that children or adolescents should not take creatine supplements.

The Power of Glutamine!

A benefit of glutamine is to promote anabolic conditions in muscle cells and increase the rate of protein synthesis. Although it was thought that glutamine was indirectly responsible for this anabolic state. It now seems that glutamine promotes growth by increasing the hydration state of muscle cells.

When cells are swollen with water, this inhibits the breakdown of protein, glycogen, and glucose. It stimulates protein and glycogen synthesis as well. If a cell becomes dehydrated, it shrinks and goes into a catabolic state that breaks down the muscle’s vital proteins.

When glutamine levels are high in muscle cells, this stimulates the entry of other amino acids into the cell. Amino acids must be carried in by a special transport system because they cannot directly enter the cells.

When a person trains intensely they will start depleting their muscle glutamine stores before they have fully recovered from their previous workout. The result is that each day the amount of muscle glutamine gets a little lower.

The more a person trains, the more glutamine they use and the greater the catabolic response. People suffering from over training are also more susceptible to disease and infection because of lowered immunity. This may be due to the role of glutamine as a primary source of fuel for the immune system.

Why and How Should I Take Glutamine?

It makes sense to take a glutamine supplement that provides the free form of this amino prior to exercise. After exercise, a high quality protein supplement should be taken within 30 minutes to aid in recovery. As the amino acids are transported into the cells, they will promote water uptake to keep the muscles hydrated.

This hydrated state will prevent a catabolic state and promote anabolic growth. Therefore, keep in mind that glutamine is one of the most important amino acids in the body and may be the most important amino acid supplement for the bodybuilder.

Written by: Peter Hyc

 

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