The Truth About Sports Nutrition


Myth 6: It Does Not Matter When You Take an Endurance Supplement.

Where do customers get the energy needed to get through a workout? Teach shoppers about pre-workout supplements. These products “generally have some energy-promoting ingredients as well as ingredients that promote blood flow,” states Urban. “A product with a reasonable amount of caffeine and arginine-type ingredients will do well for pre-workout needs.”

The ingredients in these supplements are “designed to increase energy during workouts and provide accessible calories to spare glycogen and thus extend time to failure,” states Clouatre, who also says that common ingredients to increase endurance are forms of l-arginine, l-citrulline, rhodiola, ginseng and astaxanthin.

Such ingredients, says Sugarek MacDonald, “will help ignite explosive energy and sharpen mental focus” in customers that take the supplements.

Justin Bingham, product development manager for Trace Minerals Research, Ogden, UT, lists several “essential nutrients the body needs to perform at its best.” The list includes: D-ribosebeta-alanineelectrolytesB-vitamins, BCAAs, creatine and more.

For instance, research has shown that D-ribose supplementation aids with “diverse cardiovascular conditions, including ischemia, hibernation, hypertrophy and cardiomyopathy,” as well as increasing the rate of recovery after injury (11). 

Emphasize how the products on your shelf are different than what shoppers will find in a drug store. Bingham says, “Most of the pre-workout supplements on the market are high in artificial stimulants, but low in the important nutrients that have been clinically proven to support muscle growth, stamina and endurance.”

Now, how does this differ from an intra-workout?

According to Clouatre, “During-workout supplements are now common.” He states that consuming glutamine, BCAAs, creatine and beta-alanine during your workout “works better in extending time to exhaustion, reducing muscle damage and improving post-exercise adaptation to the challenge of exercise overload,” he states.

Urban states that athletes should consume drinks containing some “amino acids, beta-alanine and D-ribose to help an individual get through rigorous exercise.”

In a 2012 research analysis of 15 different publications on beta-alanine, it was found that supplementation “elicits a significant ergogenic effect on high-intensity exercise, particularly in exercise capacity tests and measures, and where the exercise lasts between 1 and 4 minutes.” (12). Exercise lasting longer than four minutes was found to be affected in a positive way as well (12).

Additionally, Titlow says that if a person wants quick energy during their workout, they should select supplements with slow-burning carbohydrates. One example is a branded carbohydrate derived from sugar beet (Palatinose from BENEO, Inc, Morris Plains, NJ). This carb “offers a steadier source of energy when compared to sucrose,” says the company, because it cannot be broken down as fast as sucrose. “It therefore offers the full caloric value of carbohydrates (4 kcal/g) but in a balanced and longer lasting way,” the firm states.

Then, customers and athletes need to consider what they put into their bodies after a workout. Sugarek MacDonald refers to the time period after the workout as a “window of opportunity.” She says, “This is because studies suggest that within 30 minutes after intense exercise, the body optimizes its ability to replenish energy stores—particularly muscle and liver glycogen.”

In this window, Marr suggests that athletes should “consume complex carbs and proteins like whole grain waffles or oatmeal with fruit.” He also says that taking astaxanthin is ideal for recovery in athletes, especially those that participate in endurance events.

A 2006 study of 33 tennis players that took either astaxanthin or a placebo found that after 12 weeks of supplementation, the astaxanthin group reportedly had less arm soreness and improved grip strength (13). Another study from 2001 tested to see if astaxanthin could prevent delayed onset muscular soreness (DOMS). The supplement (4 mg) was given to five out of nine participants for the three weeks before the workout session and the 12 days following. Two days after the workout, those that took the astaxanthin were said to have less DOMS than those that took the placebo (14).

Andrews cites one study that suggests athletes should replenish their bodies after a workout with a 4-to-1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio to “accelerate muscle glycogen replenishment and stimulate protein synthesis” (15).

Bingham, again, suggests several nutrients that will help an athlete “feel energized after a workout rather than fatigued and drained of energy.” He suggests fueling the body with supplements such as taurine, BCAAs, l-glutamine, and electrolytes, among others.

For example, glutamine, as Bingham explains, is “important for quicker muscle recovery and supports the immune system.” One meta-analysis on the research of the supplement states that it may improve “stimulation of muscle glycogen synthesis; stimulation of muscle protein synthesis and muscle tissue growth; reduction in muscle soreness and improved muscle tissue repair; and enhanced buffering capacity and improved high intensity exercise performance” (16). 

Another useful supplement for muscle recovery is tart cherry extract. In a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study, 54 healthy runners consumed 355 mL of tart cherry juice or a placebo twice a day for seven days prior to the study. After each participant ran an average of 26.3 km, the tart cherry juice group reported less post-exercise pain than the placebo group. This led to the conclusion that “ingesting tart cherry juice for 7 days prior to and during a strenuous running event can minimize post-run muscle pain” (17).

Mount also recommends collagen for a post-workout recovery. He says, with the strain applied to tissue during a workout, “Supplementation during the recovery period of training with collagen is essential to prevent injury,” such as torn ligaments or tendons.

Last, studies on a branded l-carnitine (Carnipure from Lonza, Inc., Allendale, NJ) suggest it reduces free radicals, resulting in less tissue damage and reduced muscle soreness after exercise. These effects were found after just three weeks. The firm’s website states, “Supplementation with Carnipure tartrate was found to induce an increase in muscle oxygen consumption, providing a potential mechanism for reduced hypoxic stress following resistance exercise.”


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Published in WholeFoods Magazine, September 2015 


Select Sports Nutrition Supplements

Interviewees were asked to share their top-selling sports nutrition supplements, and here’s what they had to say:

Applied Food Sciences, Inc.: PurCaf Organic Caffeine Extract, JACA.g Chlorogenic Acids and Caffeine, GYUSA.g Guayusa Tea Extract, PurTea Organic Green Tea Extract, BTea Black Tea Theaflavin Extract, Calcium D-Glucarate, GCA Green Coffee Antioxidant, KAVA.g Kavalactone Extract.

Axiom Foods, Inc.: Oryzatein, Veg-O-Tein P,  Incatein, Cannatein.

BENEO, Inc.: Palatinose.

Bluebonnet Nutrition Corp.: Extreme Edge Whey Protein Isolate, Extreme Edge Post-Workout Formula, 100% Natural Dual Action Protein, Super Earth VeggieProtein, Extreme Edge Pre-Workout and Post-Workout.

Compound Solutions, Inc.: TeaCrine, PeakO2, Carb10, InstAminos.

Country Life Vitamins: BioChem 100% Whey Protein, BioChem 100% Vegan Protein.

Glanbia Nutritionals Ingredient Technologies:  AVONLAC Whey Protein Concentrates, BARFLEX Whey Proteins, BARGAIN Protein Blends, BEVWISE Protein Systems For Ready-To-Drink Beverages, BIOFERRIN Lactoferrin, PROVON Whey Protein Isolates, THERMAX Heat-Stable Whey Protein.

Jarrow Formulas, Inc.: Creatine Monohydrate, L-Arginine, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, Acetyl-L-Carnitine Arginate, Astaxanthin, L-Citrulline, CoQ10, QH/Ubiquinol, Optimal Plant Protein, Whey Protein.

Kyowa Hakko: Cognizin Citicoline, L-Citrulline, Sustamine L-Alanyl L-Glutamine.

Lonza, Inc.: Carnipure.

Naturade: VeganSmart All-In-One Nutrition Shake, Pea Protein, Brown Rice Protein, Symbiotics Sport Muscle Impact, Symbiotics Sport Amino Impact, Symbiotics Sport Protein Impact.

NeoCell Corp.: Collagen Sports, Collagen Type-2 Joint Complex, Super Collagen Powder and Tablets, Flex Matrix Advanced Joint Hydrator.

Nutrex Hawaii: BioAstin Natural Hawaiian Astaxanthin, Hawaiian Spirulina.

Top Secret Nutrition: Cardio Igniter, Ab Igniter Black, Pump Igniter, BCAA Hyperblend, Pure L-Glutamine, Micronized Creatine, AstraVar 2.0 Amplifier, Natural-T Test Booster, Whey Protein, CLA 2500, Creavar Premium Creatine.

Trace Minerals Research: Electrolyte Stamina Power Pak, Electrolyte Stamina Tablets, Endure Performance Electrolyte, Electrolyte Stamina Shot, TMRFIT Pre-Workout, TMRFIT Post-Workout, TMRFIT Liquid Zinc Magnesium Aspartate.

Twinlab Corp.: CleanSeries Pre-Workout—Citrus, MCT Fuel, Ultra Fuel, 100% Whey Fuel, Amino Fuel and Amino Fuel Liquid, Glutamine Fuel Caps and Glutamine Fuel Powder, L-Carnitine Fuel 1100.