Supplementation – Improving PDHPE
Study Notes

There are opinions and evidence that both support and are sceptical about supplementation for improved performance. While supplementation may work for some individual athletes, other athletes may have a more than sufficient diet that is already containing adequate amounts of specific vitamins, minerals and proteins which makes using certain supplements unnecessary. In some cases, supplementation may simply have a placebo effect on an athlete’s confidence during performance. However, supplementation is widely supported as an effective way to improve performance.

– Vitamins/Minerals:

Vitamins and minerals are not a source of energy.

Vitamins are found in food and can support the body’s functions and help create chemical reactions that support metabolism regulation, convert food into usable sources of energy and can even assist in controlling stress and anxiety. While vitamin supplementation is becoming more popular in athletes, many of the vitamins that are in multivitamin supplements can already be present in an individuals diet and the excess amount of vitamins simply pass through the body and are wasted. In this case, multivitamin consumption can lack justification and may not be worth the expense. On a more serious note, excess consumption of vitamins A,E,D and K for example can have a poisonous effect on the body.

Vitamin and mineral supplementation in some cases can still be required by athletes who have a well-balanced diet. It can be common for female athletes who are training at high levels or are menstruating to require iron supplements to help prevent anaemia. Iron supplementation can have a positive impact on the performance of female athletes due to the important role of iron in the production of haemoglobin which enables oxygen to attach to the red blood cells which supply muscle cells with oxygen during physical activity. If iron supplements weren’t taken, haemoglobin production would be reduced and the athlete’s performance would suffer due to the reduced supply of oxygen to the muscles. Iron supplements may also be necessary for athletes who have a diet high in carbohydrates and low in iron rich proteins.

Minerals are micronutrients found in food and like vitamins they support bodily functions. One mineral that most people would know is calcium. Calcium is a key mineral that is required for good health. To ensure an individual has good bone strength and ability to increase bone density, calcium needs to be included in their diet. This is particularly beneficial to athletes who participate in weight bearing or high impact sports that create a lot of stress on the skeletal structure like gymnasts or triple jumpers. Calcium consumption is especially important for young growing bodies during childhood and adolescents to ensure optimal peak bone mass is achieved in adulthood.

According to the National Health and Medical Research Centre (2005), it is recommended that individuals 14-18 years old should consume 1300 mg of calcium per day and 1000 mg of calcium per day for 19-30 year olds. Due to bone deterioration in older aged individuals, older athletes need to consume more calcium to help support bone health and slow down this process. In particular, women who may experience impaired menstrual function or specifically those who have or are experiencing menopause will require a higher intake of calcium due to calcium loss starting to occur from their bones. Calcium can be found in dairy products (especially plain yogurt), collards greens, and fish with bones (sardines and salmon).

– Protein

Protein is made up of amino acids and is the key building block of body tissue and body tissue repair. Protein is also the third most used energy source behind carbohydrates and fats, however this is used on the rare occasion that all carbohydrate and fats stores are greatly diminished or depleted. Unlike carbohydrates and fats, any extra protein cannot be kept in the body. It will either be used as fuel for activity or, if not used as fuel, will be converted into fat and stored.

Do athletes need to consume more protein?

Athletes that rely on strength or resistance before or during their performances, like weight lifters, need to consume extra protein during the initial stage of training when building up muscle mass and recovering from intense training sessions due muscle fibre tearing and repair/building. Elite endurance athletes also require extra protein for the partial use of replenishing energy levels and muscle tissue repair and recovery. According to the AIS, an elite male endurance athlete requires 1.6g/kg/day and a resistance athlete in the early training stages needs 1.5-1.7g/kg/day.

Protein can be found in meat, fish, dairy, tofu, beans, lentils and nuts. Protein supplements are also growing in popularity, although most athlete diets would already provide them with the sufficient amount of protein they need during training and performance. Protein powders are also an expensive alternative to simply altering your diet to naturally include more protein rich foods. One advantage to using protein powders is that there are many different blends that may also include other nutrients like carbohydrates and creatine which may make it easier and faster for athletes to consume as a shake or bar.

– Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant which is believed to have positive effects on athletes that rely on quick reflexes due to its ability to enhance reaction speeds and increase mental focus. According to the Journal of Applied Physiology, a study of endurance athletes who consumed small amounts of caffeine before and during an event in some cases enhanced performance by up to 2.2%. It was also found that caffeine had positive effects on endurance athletes if small amounts (1.5mg/kg) were consumed towards the end of their performance.

Caffeine is also known to act as a carbohydrate blocker or ‘glycogen sparer’. It does this by making fats available as energy in the form of free fatty acids which are used by contracting muscles. This then enables glycogen stores to be spared for later use when they are needed most by the athlete when they would otherwise reach exhaustion. Theoretically this is why endurance athletes seem to benefit from caffeine use the most and not athletes who perform for short periods of time like sprinters.

The possible negatives of caffeine use by athletes is that it has diuretic properties which may promote dehydration, cause restless sleep and muscle tightness. Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, cocoa and is an additive in soft drinks like coke-a-cola.

– Creatine Products

Creatine is naturally found in meat and fish, although it has become increasingly popular on the market as a product for athletes and body builders in the form of powders, bars and liquids.

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the chemical compound the body uses for energy and when ATP gets used up it becomes adenosine diphosphate (ADP). Creatine products are used to help promote or speed up the resynthesis of ATP. This is because creatine combines with phosphates to make phosphocreatine. The phosphocreatine then attaches to ADP and converts it back into ATP which restores energy levels faster. This is particularly useful for power athletes like sprinters who primarily access the ATP-PC or anaerobic energy systems during their performance or training and only have short periods of recovery time between sprints. Athletes who have a low intake of meat and fish or are vegetarian may have a low creatine intake and benefit from creatine supplements to assist their performance. Creatine also has positive effects on muscle hypertrophy, although this only occurs when used in conjunction with weight training.

The possible negatives of creatine use are for athletes who do not want to gain weight. This is because creatine causes water retention in muscle cells which increases body weight by around 2% in the first few days. Creatine used in high doses may also been linked to overworking the liver and kidneys so it is advised that regular monitoring of renal health is advised for individuals who use higher than recommended doses.

Full Written Notes

Critical question 3: How can nutrition and recovery strategies affect performance
Supplementation

To understand how nutrition and recover strategies affect performance it is important to learn and supplementation and critically analyse the evidence for and against utilising supplementation for improved performance.

There are opinions and evidence which both support and dismiss the benefits of using supplementation to improve performance. While supplementation methods prove effective for some individuals, other athletes receive sufficient amounts of vitamins, minerals and proteins from their existing diet

In some cases, supplementation may simply have a placebo effect on an athlete’s confidence during performance. However, supplementation is still widely supported as an effective way to improve performance.

 

Vitamins/Minerals

Vitamins and minerals can be found in food and are not a source of energy. Instead they help create chemical reactions which facilitate various body functions including metabolism regulation, the conversion of food into usable sources of energy. There is evidence to suggest that the consumption of vitamins and minerals can even decrease stress and anxiety.

While vitamin supplementation is becoming more popular amongst athletes, many of the vitamins in supplements are already present in their diet. Excess vitamins simply pass through the body and are wasted. For this reason, the case for multivitamin consumption can lack justification and may not be worth the expense. On a more serious note, vitamins A, E, D and K are poisonous if consumed in large quantities, so excessive consumption can have a detrimental effect on the body.

There are occasions where vitamin and mineral supplementation is required for athletes who have a well-balanced diet. For example, female athletes who are training at high levels or are menstruating may need iron supplements to help prevent anaemia. Iron supplementation can have a positive impact on the performance of female athletes due to the essential role iron plays in the production of haemoglobin. This protein transports oxygen around the body, by attaching it to red blood cells, which supply muscle cells with oxygen during physical activity. If iron supplements are not consumed, haemoglobin production may be reduced and the athlete’s performance may suffer due to the reduced supply of oxygen to the muscles. Iron supplements may also be necessary for athletes who have a diet high in carbohydrates and low in iron rich proteins.

Minerals are micronutrients found in food and like vitamins they support body function. Calcium, a mineral most people are familiar with, is essential for good bone strength and density. Bone health is particularly important for athletes who participate in weight bearing or high impact sports, which put high amounts of stress on the skeletal structure, like gymnasts or triple jumpers.

Calcium consumption is especially important for the growing bodies of children and adolescents to ensure optimal peak bone mass is achieved in adulthood. The National Health and Medical Research Centre (2005) recommends that individuals aged between 14-18 years old consume 1300 mg of calcium per day; 19-30 year olds are advised to consume 1000 mg of calcium per day.

Older athletes need to consume more calcium to help maintain their bone health and slow down deterioration. Women who are experiencing impaired menstrual function or menopause also require a higher intake of calcium due to the loss calcium from their bones.

Calcium can be found in dairy products (especially plain yogurt), collard greens, and fish with bones, like sardines and salmon.

Protein

Protein is made up of amino acids and is the key building block of body tissue and body tissue repair. Protein is also an energy source, although it is only used on rare occasions when carbohydrate and fat stores are severely diminished or depleted. Unlike carbohydrates and fats, excess protein cannot be stored in the body and simple passes through.

Athletes who rely on strength or resistance before or during their performances, like weight lifters, need to consume extra protein during the initial stage of training. Protein can help them building up muscle mass and recover from intense training sessions where muscle fibre tearing occurs and repair is necessary.

Elite endurance athletes also require extra protein to replenish energy levels and facilitate muscle tissue repair and recovery. According to the AIS, an elite male endurance athlete requires 1.6 kilograms of protein a day. A resistance athlete in the early training stages needs 1.5-1.7 kilograms of protein a day.

Protein can be found in meat, fish, dairy, tofu, beans, lentils and nuts. Protein supplements are also available, although the diets of most athletes would already contain a sufficient amount of protein for training and performance.

Protein powders are an expensive alternative to simply altering your diet to naturally include more protein rich foods. One advantage to using protein powders is that there are many different blends. These sometimes include other nutrients like carbohydrates and creatine and are easier and faster for athletes to consume as they are usually packaged as a shake or bar.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant and some believe it has positive effects on athletes who rely on quick reflexes due to its ability to enhance reaction speeds and increase mental focus. According to the Journal of Applied Physiology, a study of endurance athletes who consumed small amounts of caffeine before and during an event, in some cases, improved their performance a maximum of 2.2%. Caffeine has also been found to have positive effects on endurance athletes if small amounts (1.5mg/kg) are consumed toward the end of their performance.

Caffeine acts as a carbohydrate blocker or ‘glycogen sparer’, making fats available as energy in the form of free fatty acids, which are used by contracting muscles. This ensures glycogen stores are available for later use, when they are needed most by a tiring athlete. Theoretically, this is why endurance athletes seem to benefit most from caffeine use, rather than athletes who perform for short periods of time like sprinters.

Caffeine has several negative effects. It has diuretic properties which may increase chances of dehydration and can cause restless sleep and muscle tightness.

Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, cocoa and is an additive in soft drinks like cola.

Creatine Products

Creatine is naturally found in meat and fish, although it has become increasingly popular on the market as a product for athletes and body builders in the form of powders, bars and liquids.

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the chemical compound the body uses for energy. When ATP gets used up it becomes adenosine diphosphate (ADP). Creatine products are used to help promote or speed up the resynthesis of ATP. This is because creatine combines with phosphates to make phosphocreatine. The phosphocreatine then attaches to ADP and converts it back into ATP which restores energy levels faster.

Speeding up this process is particularly useful for power athletes, like sprinters, who primarily access the ATP-PC or anaerobic energy systems during their performance or training and only have short periods of recovery time between sprints. Athletes who have a low intake of meat and fish or are vegetarian may have a low creatine intake and benefit from creatine supplements to assist their performance. Creatine also has positive effects on muscle hypertrophy, although this only occurs when used in conjunction with weight training.

The possible negative effects of creatine use impact athletes who do not want to gain weight. Creatine causes water retention in muscle cells which increases body weight by around 2% in the first few days. Excessive of high doses of creatine have also been linked to the overworking of the liver and kidneys, so people who exceed recommended doses should regularly monitor their renal health.