The Use of Dietary Supplements in Sport

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Dietary supplements are not food but a product that replenishes the body with essential nutrients like amino acids, vitamins and electrolytes as well as energy from glucose. They are consumed in addition to someone's diet.

Dietary supplements are often used in sport to help maintain or boost someone’s performance. Some commonly used supplements are creatine,whey protein and isotonic gels. Creatine is a substance naturally found in the muscles so by consuming more of it gives a big benefit. Creatine is used in sports like heavy-weight lifting and high intensity exercises.

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Creatine increases your muscles stores of phosphocreatine levels, which helps your body create ATP, a molecule that is broken down during exercise into a high amount of energy. Creatine also helps with muscle growth and repair as it can increase anabolic hormones in the body like IGF-1 a hormone that helps several tissue growths whilst reducing the amount of protein being broken down from the muscles. Therefore, increasing the amount of muscle in the body. Some negative effects of creatine are nausea, diarrhea and stomach pain.

Whey protein is a protein that contains a wide amount of amino acids that are easily absorbed into the body. Many studies show that it improves strength muscle gain and fat loss. It also helps with many other body functions as proteins are used to make most things in the body. There are 3 main types of whey protein: concentrate, isolate and hydrolysate. Concentrate contains around 70% protein as well as lactose. It is known to have the best flavour.

Isolate contains 90% protein and contains less lactose, fat and other nutrients as well. Hydrolysate is a pre-digested version of whey and is therefore easier to be absorbed. Whey proteins help build muscles as they provide amino acids, proteins and help produce anabolic hormones. This is all done whilst maintaining a quick absorption time. Due to all this whey proteins are very good for body builders and other weight lifting sports. Whey however has negatives, which are very similar to creatine with side effects like: nausea, headaches and stomach pains.

Electrolyte supplements come in many types including dissolvable tablets, gels and sachets. Electrolytes are very good for endurance events as they are used in nerve function, muscle function and many other functions in the blood like balancing blood acidity. These supplements can also prevent electrolyte imbalances during exercise. This is important as they can lead to muscle spasms, extreme tiredness and changes in blood pressure. Therefore, electrolyte supplements are also very personal as people will have to top up different electrolytes. Some side effects however are an upset stomach, flatulence and diarrhea.

Some supplements however, unlike the ones mentioned above, are not meant to be used in sports. Anabolic steroids are a dietary supplements that is illegal to use in sport and can lead to serious consequences like disqualification and bans from the sport. They work by promoting the release of anabolic hormones whilst decreasing the muscle breakdown. The negative side effects of these steroids are very serious as they include: liver disease, kidney problems or failure as well as higher blood pressure and cholesterol.

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