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Feature Articles: Exercise
 

Do Supplements Help Athletes?

Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist in Barton County
University of Missouri Extension

 

Participating in sports can be highly competitive. There is always a desire to just be a little bit better.

Many athletes try to find supplements, techniques, or special equipment that will help them perform at their maximum. An important thing to know is that you can spend countless dollars that have no proven benefit.

Many athletes try to find supplements, techniques, or special equipment that will help them perform at their maximum. An important thing to know is that you can spend countless dollars that have no proven benefit. Before you spend your hard earned dollars, know the facts about ergogenic aids.


Participating in sports can be highly competitive. There is always a desire to just be a little bit better. Many athletes try to find supplements, techniques, or special equipment that will help them perform at their maximum. An important thing to know is that you can spend countless dollars that have no proven benefit. Before you spend your hard earned dollars, know the facts about ergogenic aids.
 

The term ergogenic, according to Sports Nutrition for the 90s, means to enhance athletic performance by improving energy efficiency, production, or control during exercise. There are several types of ergogenic aids but this article will concentrate on the pharmacologic and nutrition aspects of ergogenic aids.
 

Nutrition ergogenic aids can include everything from vitamin and mineral supplements, to extra protein to Bee Pollen. Vitamins and minerals help us to utilize energy from food and help our muscles to do their job. It is possible that athletes need extra vitamins and minerals because they burn more energy. The ideal way of getting the extra nutrients is through the extra food needed to provide the energy for peak performance. That same rule is true for protein. An athlete may need extra protein because of the work the muscles must perform but that can be accomplished with an extra serving of lean meat rather than an expensive protein powder. Several studies have found no improved performance as a result of consuming Bee Pollen.
 

Pharmacologic or drug-type ergogenic aids can be taken in the form of caffeine, alcohol and steroids. Caffeine is a stimulant. There is documentation that caffeine can enhance endurance under some conditions. (Total Nutrition from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine) The equivalent of about two cups of brewed coffee an hour before exercise has been found to delay fatigue and prolong performance in events lasting longer than one hour. Be aware that there is also research that in some people caffeine actually hinders performance by causing jitters, nervousness or diarrhea. Alcohol does not improve performance. It reduces performance. Alcohol slows reaction time and interferes with the ability to use good judgment. Steroids have been used by many professional athletes to build muscles. There are many negative side effects of steroids. In teens and children, they can stunt growth permanently.
 

The body is a complicated machine with many processes taking place at once. The best way to keep your engine running like an efficient, well-oiled machine is to eat a well balanced diet. For peak performance, athletes need to eat a good variety of lean meats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables and milk products.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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