Sports nutrition is a fast-growing business with proteins, energy gels, and supplements being popular sports nutrition products only used by bodybuilders and athletes now being used by most of the population. The guarantees of improved performance, among other claims, are encouraging factors to buy alternative nutrition to attain results. Lack of supplement regulation and quality control may mean weak and inefficient products are being used.
It’s measured between 39 and 89 percent of the international supplement market are athletes with the highest frequency among older and elite athletes.
Research from Mintel discovers that as many as one in four which is 24% of the British citizens have used a sports nutrition product in the past three months, with the highest portion being 42% of men aged 16-24.
Sports supplements to improve exercise and athletic performance come in various forms, including tablets, capsules, liquids, powders, and bars. Most of these products carry numerous ingredients in different combinations and amounts. Among the more common ingredients are amino acids, protein, creatine, and caffeine. According to one estimate, retail sales of the category of “sports nutrition supplements” totaled $5.67 billion in 2016 or 13.8% of $41.16 billion total sales for dietary supplements and related nutrition products for that year.
What Is a Supplement?
Supplements are regarded as an addition to an already wholesome diet. Energetic adults or athletes may add supplements to help reach nutritional values, improve nutrient deficiencies, enhance athletic performance or achieve personal fitness goals. Without a well-designed nutrition plan in place, supplementation is said to be rarely useful.
Supplement Regulation and Standards
Dietary supplements have been arranged in a special food category and are not considered drugs. Supplements are not expected to be submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for regulation. Although the FDA can review ingredients and health claims of supplements, very few are reviewed. Sport supplement manufacturers are permitted to make health claims with FDA approval as long as the product statements are factual and based on scientific proof. Unfortunately, very few supplements declaring ergogenic benefits are supported by clinical research. This gives the active adult or athlete without a guarantee of safety, effectiveness, strength or purity of supplements for dietary or ergogenic purposes.
- Dietary supplements comprise vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, botanicals, extracts, or concentrates from plants or foods. They are typically sold as capsules, tablets, liquids, powders or bars and are required to be clearly labeled as a dietary supplement.
- Ergogenic aids incorporate substances, drugs, or techniques used to improve athletic performance. They can vary from acceptable carbohydrate loading practices to “illegal and unsafe approaches such as anabolic-androgenic steroid use.”
Science Categories Supplements:
Dietary supplements and ergogenic aids are sold and claim to intensify an active adult or athlete’s diet and athletic performance. Clinical research proceeds to reveal flaws in these supplement health claims. The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) has given a division for supplements based on clinical research:
- Apparently effective: Most supplement research studies prove safe and effective.
- Possibly effective: Initial supplement conclusions are good, but more research is needed to examine the effects on training and athletic performance.
- Too early to tell: Supplement theory makes sense but lacks adequate research to support using it.
- Apparently ineffective: Supplements lack sound scientific evidence, and/or analysis has revealed the supplement to be clearly ineffective and/or unsafe.
The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) shows the foundation of a good training program is a sound energy balanced, nutrient-dense diet. If supplements are being used, the ISSN suggests supplements only from category one (apparently effective). Any other supplements would be deemed experimental. They further alarm supplements in category three (too early to tell) and don’t recommend athletes taking supplements in category four (apparently ineffective).
It is important to talk to your doctor before taking any supplement, vitamin, or medication.
Some things to consider before you take a supplement include:
- Taking supplements does not make up for having an unhealthy diet. No diet is perfect 365 days a year, so there may be times a supplement is important, such as during special training, disease, or when you have a medical condition (pregnancy, anemia, etc.).
- Many supplements have great research behind them to demonstrate their advantage, but an even more significant number do not have enough evidence to support their use. Your doctor or dietitian can assist you in learning which supplements are healthful for you.
- Unlike medication, supplements are not meant to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure diseases.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot check the safety and effectiveness of supplements before hitting the market. To make sure you pick safe products, buy only products that are approved as safe by a third-party company like National Safety Foundation or Informed Choice. These groups have strict certification guidelines to prevent tampering, verify label claims against the contents, and make sure they don’t include banned substances.
Increases blood flow and delivery of oxygen and nutrients to skeletal muscle; serves as a substrate for creatine production; increases secretion of human growth hormone to stimulate muscle growth.
Research findings: Little to no effect on vasodilation, blood flow, or exercise metabolites; little evidence of increases in muscle creatine content. No safety concerns reported for use of up to 9 g/day for weeks; adverse effects possible with larger doses
Reported adverse effects: Gastrointestinal effects, such as diarrhea and nausea.