How to Use Supplements to Help You Succeed in Your Sport
Achieving success in a sport does not happen by chance. It takes natural ability, years of hard work and training, and a commitment to meeting increased physical and psychological demands that are put on the body. Understanding those demands can help you choose supplements that will help you succeed in your chosen sport.
The Unique Needs of Athletes
All people (extreme athletes, average adults, and sedentary individuals) need the same basic nutrients to function. The difference comes in how much of each nutrient each one needs. In particular, an intense exercise regimen will increase the need for calories and fluids. Since your macronutrient needs are generally calculated as a percentage of your caloric intake, they will also change for athletes.
It is generally recommended that about half of your calories come from complex carbohydrates, no more than 30 percent from fat, and the rest from protein. If you are looking to increase muscle mass or help with recovery, increasing protein may be beneficial.
Maintaining hydration levels is crucial to your success as an athlete. Fluid needs will increase as you lose water through perspiration and increased demand on body systems. Most fluid loss can be replaced with water, but sports drinks can help ensure that your electrolyte levels stay balanced.
Optimizing Nutrition to Meet Those Needs
Simply taking a multivitamin in the morning may not be enough for an athlete. So, how do you make the most out of nutritional supplements? That will depend on the sport you participate in and how vigorously you train.
In cases where there is intense and sustained training, an athlete will need to determine the best dosage and schedule to maximize their workouts. That means you’ll need to know when to take BCAA and when straight protein powder would be a better option.
Supplements That Can Give You a Boost
While you want to get the majority of your nutrients from whole food sources, there are times when you will need to use supplements to meet your nutritional needs. Understand how these common nutrients can fit into your training plan.
This macronutrient is used by your body to build and repair muscle tissue. Not all sources of protein are treated the same by your body. If you choose to add protein powder to your diet, make sure you understand the basics of each one. For example, casein powder generally takes a long time to get digested so it can hold you for long periods of time. Whey powder, on the other hand, will hit your system in about 30 minutes. That makes it a great choice for a post-workout boost to fuel recovery.
Branched chain amino acids are essential building blocks of proteins that your body cannot manufacture. That means you have to get them from food or supplements. They are a favorite for pre and post-workout mixes.
Supplements with creatine are thought to help promote endurance and speed up muscle recovery times.
The big three electrolytes in your body are sodium magnesium, and potassium. They play a role in maintaining fluid balance and regulating heart rate and some neurological functions. Electrolyte drinks can be helpful for athletes who lose the minerals through perspiration.
Making Choices to Help You Succeed
You want to succeed in your chosen sport, no matter what it is. The right balance of training, rest, and proper nutrition can help you do that. But poor lifestyle choices can derail your athletic career even before it gets off the ground. While supplements can help you achieve your goals, you want to avoid substances that could affect your judgment or get you into trouble.
Find a place that provides some balance between your sport and the rest of your life. Make sure you are giving your body the rest it needs. That will take the form of active rest, but it should also include plenty of time for sleep, too.
Although most people can meet their nutritional needs with a balanced diet, athletes need to pay special attention to their bodies and use supplements as needed. In addition to the fuel needed to sustain basic metabolic functions, athletes need to support the increased demands training and competition puts on their bodies. When those needs are met they can achieve success in their sport.