Bodybuilding and performance-enhancement drugs (PEDs) are becoming increasingly popular among athletes, bodybuilders, and anyone looking to improve their physical performance.
These products can provide large gains in strength and muscle mass over a short period of time, allowing you to reach peak form more quickly. However, there are some risks associated with these drugs, and consumers should be aware of them before taking any type of supplement.
Knowing the potential benefits of bodybuilding and performance enhancing supplements is essential to making an informed decision
What are performance enhancing supplements?
Performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) have been used for years to enhance physical performance and give athletes a competitive edge. They are banned in most sports, but you can use them safely if you aren’t competing professionally.
The most common supplements used for bodybuilding or performance enhancement include:
- Protein powders
- Creatine Monohydrate
- Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
These are some of the best supplements for muscle gain and strength, and they increase endurance so athletes can train more stringently and reduce fatigue during competition. Sometimes, PEDs can mask pain or injury and increase alertness.
Each of these supplements has unique benefits; however, they may present certain side effects that should be considered when considering their use. It is important for consumers to educate themselves on the contents of each supplement to ensure proper dosing and safety.
Which performance enhancing supplements are most popular?
You should invest in supplementing your diet with quality ingredients that will support your performance and help you maintain peak physical and mental health.
Sports activities require immense energy and can affect your body. When considering which supplements to incorporate into your fitness plan, consider those specifically geared toward providing the required energy and supporting endurance-specific needs.
The supplements listed below both replenish necessary nutrients and provide energy — in addition to playing a role in improved athletic performance. Each works together to provide more durability during intense training sessions and helps to maintain heightened levels of alertness for a better overall exercise experience.
With an understanding of how supplementation fits into the overall diet plan for an endurance athlete, these essential supplements can make a difference in achieving your personal fitness goals:
1. Creatine Monohydrate
Creatine is commonly associated with strength, speed, and power because it has been proven effective in improving muscle strength and size. It can also benefit endurance athletes like runners, cyclists and triathletes.
Creatine increases phosphocreatine stores in muscles, which allows for a rapid increase in ATP production. It improves anaerobic performance, interval work at lactate threshold, speed work, and hill training – essential for increasing running efficiency and performance times.
Even though creatine is not usually considered beneficial to endurance athletes, it provides multiple indirect benefits that make it worth considering. Supplementing with creatine can decrease muscle fatigue during long runs so the athlete can maintain a higher pace for longer periods of time.
Using creatine in certain supplement stacks can increase energy production during intense exercise sessions, allowing you to push yourself harder when nearing the end of your workout.
Caffeine has become an essential part of many endurance athlete’s diets due to its ability to reduce the perception of effort and delay fatigue during long runs and other endurance activities.
Studies have highlighted the benefits of caffeine consumption as a performance enhancer, with improvements in cycling and cross-country skiing performances and quicker time trial results. Caffeine also helps regulate fat oxidation which can aid in weight management goals.
To maximise the effects of caffeine, you should take 1.3-2.7 milligrams per pound of body weight (roughly 200-400 milligrams for a 150-pound individual) 60 minutes before exercise to ensure it reaches its peak concentration in your bloodstream.
Despite being a diuretic, meaning it increases urine production, recent reviews from researchers at the University of Connecticut suggest that moderate amounts of caffeine will not lead to water or electrolyte imbalances, nor does it reduce exercise-heat tolerance. Thus making caffeine an effective way for athletes to improve their performance during endurance events and races without compromising their health or safety.
During high-intensity activities, beta-alanine improves performance and delays fatigue.
Endurance events require athletes to keep their intensity up over long periods of time, which can lead to fatigue. This is where beta-alanine comes into play.
You become fatigued when your body accumulates hydrogen ions during intense training sessions. Beta-alanine supplementation is noted for buffering the effect of increased hydrogen by increasing carnosine levels within our muscles, effectively delaying the onset of fatigue and enhances performance.
Beta-alanine supplements have been found to improve endurance performance, including cycling performance and rowing times. In addition, studies have demonstrated the benefits of taking it before or during an event, most notably during activities lasting between 5-30 minutes, like a 10K run or a circuit workout.
4. Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are essential for prolonged physical activity.
BCAAs can be taken before exercise to reduce fatigue. This is because of their ability to compete with tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier, reducing the amount of tryptophan available and thus ‘putting off’ fatigue.
Additionally, BCAAs have been shown to reduce lactate production and muscle protein breakdown during exercise, increasing endurance capacity and aiding in quicker recovery after the physical activity has stopped.
Supplement your diet with BCAAs if you are engaging in prolonged workouts or exercises lasting longer than an hour. Supplementation may involve BCAA powders or oral tablets/capsules taken before and/or during a workout – depending on your tolerance level and caloric needs.
A greater concentration of these amino acids can help sustain energy levels throughout the day and reduce emotional exhaustion from strenuous physical activity like long runs. If you want to keep peak performance levels across multiple training sessions per week, adding BCAAs could be the extra boost you need.
Protein is an essential macronutrient as it helps to build and maintain muscle mass, repair tissue damage caused by intense workouts, and even provide extra energy. It’s considered one of the best supplements for muscle gain.
While carbohydrates are typically considered the primary fuel source for prolonged exercise, having enough protein in the body can help you stay energised for longer periods of time during your training sessions.
The medical community recommends consuming 0.5-0.7 grams of protein daily per pound of body weight.
To optimise the benefits of protein consumption, try adding a carbohydrate source when taking a protein supplement. This combination of macronutrients has been shown to result in better synthesis rates when compared to just proteins alone — meaning they can help replenish your muscles and restore glycogen levels quickly after intense workouts.
Whether following a low-carb diet or sticking with more traditional eating habits, ensure you aren’t lacking in the protein department.
The importance of nutrition
Good nutrition is essential to achieving peak performance in sports. Eating the right foods can give athletes the energy they need to reach their athletic goals. A balanced diet should include eating breakfast, various carbohydrates, and adequate hydration.
Breakfast should be eaten before an event, not skipped, as it serves as fuel for the physical activity undertaken throughout the day.
Carbohydrates are a great source of fuel pre-competition and can help maintain endurance during practices and competitions. Carbohydrate-rich foods include sweet potatoes, oats, quinoa, brown rice, whole-grain bread and pasta.
It’s important to consume carbs every few hours on the day of competition – known as carb loading – typically done at meal times or between meals with nutritious snacks such as fruit or vegetables. This ensures you have enough energy to perform at your best.
Hydration also plays an important role in sports nutrition – you should drink fluids regularly, particularly during intense exercise when heavy sweating occurs. Combined with a healthy diet and regular training, these nutrition basics can maximise sports performance.