Protein Sports Supplements, Myths and Recommendations


Protein supplements are consumed by the physically active population seeking to increase their muscle mass. Whey protein, BCAAs and Creatine are some of the most in demand
Protein Sports Supplements, Myths and Recommendations
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The problem is that they are often used without professional supervision. The effectiveness of some of them, as well as the risks at hepatic and renal level are some of the controversies to which health professionals respond.

There are many sports supplements on the market, and their number is growing rapidly. Solid foods, beverages, in concentrates, isolated or hydrolyzed... Each one of them is adapted to the athlete's situation, has a different amino acid profile and is more or less easily digestible.

Most people who take these types of dietary products seek to increase their sports performance.

"What they never think is that if they consume an inadequate product or in inappropriate doses, not only do they not improve their physical work, but it can be dangerous for their health," says Dr. Nieves Palacios, coordinator of the Physical Activity and Sports Working Group of the Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition (SEEN).

Muscle tissue contains 40% of the body's proteins. There is a mechanism of protein exchange according to which the synthesis from diet proteins and degradation are balanced according to the needs of the moment. After training, the protein expenditure is greater than its production, so following the recommendations of the SEEN, only if the intake is adequate can a protein count be achieved that reverses the situation.

At least 80% of subjects who regularly attend a gym to gain muscle mass have used protein as the most frequent supplement.

Athletes have increased protein requirements, especially at the beginning of the season. According to Dr. Palacios, the recommended consumption of these nutrients is between 1.2-1.5 grams per kilogram of weight per day, compared to 0.8-1 g/kg for people who do not train. "There is no evidence that intakes greater than 3 g/kg of weight and day improve sports performance," says Dr. Palacios.

Protein Sports Supplements, Myths & Recommendations
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Main sports supplements

Although there are no official statistics, recent studies on adolescents have shown that at least 80% or more of the subjects who regularly attend a gymnasium on a recreational basis with the aim of gaining muscle mass have used or regularly use protein as the most frequent supplement, says Dr. Juan Marcelo, coordinator of the Sports Supplementation area of the Spanish Society of Sports Nutrition (SENuDE).

Branched-chain amino acids are included in the protein category, while more than 70% of the same sample reported systematic use of creatine. The other great supplement is multivitamins.

BCAAs

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs, Branched-Chain Amino Acids) are three specific amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) associated with the processes of initiating protein synthesis and increasing muscle mass. "However, a more scientific look reveals that this is not so conclusive," says the sports nutritionist.

Main sports supplements
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To date there is no evidence that BCAAs actually improve muscle anabolism

According to Dr. Marcelo, it is important to keep in mind that the BCAAs supplement only provides three of the amino acids, so they cannot build the proteins. "Proteins are very complex structures and do not need just three amino acids, but are built by twenty in different ways combined," he says.

The recommendation today to optimize muscle mass gain would be to eat enough high-quality protein, which is naturally included in BCAAs through food, and only when appropriate through supplementation. "To date there is no evidence that BCAAs really improve muscle anabolism," the specialist concludes.

Creatine

Creatine is a nitrogenous compound produced by the body that can be consumed through foods such as red meat or seafood. It is usually ingested as creatine monohydrate. Juan Marcelo points out that several reviews have identified good effectiveness in increasing sports performance with the use of creatine in both isolated and repeated efforts, with the most pronounced effects of less than 30 seconds.

However, the Sports Supplementation coordinator emphasizes that "the benefit of creatine supplementation according to the protocols will depend on whether there was little muscle concentration". The intramuscular creatine gain will be the one that generates the most strength and power in muscle contraction, especially in small segments of time.

Protein Sports Supplements, Myths and Recommendations
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Effects on health

Like any other factor that we add to our diet and that becomes part of our body, all supplements have physiological effects on the different processes of our body. Dr. Marcelo insists that the consequences can be positive if used well, or negative if professional supervision is not followed.


"Neither BCAAs nor creatine should have any risk to a healthy person's kidney or liver health, as long as they are used in adequate amounts and under professional supervision," says the sports nutritionist.

According to the SENUDE doctor, to date, no studies have shown that high-dose protein intake in healthy individuals over the long term can compromise kidney health.

Interactions with the diet can be positive or negative: positive if they complement it if a proper level of protein intake is not achieved, or negative if they attempt to satisfy a dietary defect but it is not well controlled.

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Myths and recommendations

There are many myths in the field of sports supplements. Juan Marcelo lists some of them:

"Supplements are independent of diet." Muscle gain cannot be unequivocally achieved with these supplements. According to the sports supplementation specialist, supervised planning of the different factors (diet, physical exercise and rest) is necessary so that the supplements make a small contribution to sports performance.

"This brand is better." Supplements should follow quality controls because they may be contaminated. "A study shows that different supplements of different brands and nature are contaminated to some degree and are therefore a health hazard," says the nutritionist.

"I buy this one because it's cheaper." In relation to the above, the cost difference is related to the purity or concentration of the nutrient. In the case of proteins, the impurities are usually fat, lactose, bioactive compounds such as albumin and globulins, and some allergens. "The greater the amount of these additives, the lower the protein concentration, and the lower the digestibility," says the specialist.

"A friend of mine told me to buy it there." Dr. Marcelo states that "from the Spanish Society of Sports Nutrition we consider it unacceptable that there is no more explicit regulation on the marketing of supplements". The nutritionist calls for it not to be possible for anyone without any health and nutritional knowledge to open a business and sell or even be able to prescribe a supplement to physically active people.

Guidelines for Exercising in Hot Weather


In summer, many people exercise, and with the high temperatures, it is necessary to be especially careful and to train at the right times and places, to wear suitable clothing and to take precautions regarding the sensations that our body tells us at all times.

Tips For Exercising Safely In Hot Weather


In order to avoid any risk and workout in the best possible way, it is advisable to set aside "a time of 10 to 15 days of conditioning at high temperatures, starting the exercise gradually and progressively and increasing the intensity gradually; to schedule training at the least hot hours; to avoid high-intensity exercises and to maintain adequate hydration before, during and after training, together with a correct diet".

Hours and places to workout in summer

The best advice is not to exercise at high temperatures. "In the open air, 20º - 24º C are considered good temperatures for training, and it is dangerous to train from 32º C onwards, and this is aggravated by the high relative humidity of the air", says the teacher. Therefore, it is necessary to "look for times when these circumstances occur, which occurs in the extreme hours of the day and not in the central hours (12:00 to 17:00)," he adds.

The places where we do our training should be "cool, ventilated, with adequate relative humidity, with adequate shade and taking into account the altitude", the specialist points out. Other options that we can consider for exercise are to practice it in the aquatic environment.

Appropriate clothes to workout in hot weather

With regard to clothing, it should be "light-colored, breathable and quick-drying dry fit, preferably with sleeves and shorts, as well as a protective cap and sunglasses, while footwear should be comfortable, tight and suitable for the surface on which we train". In addition to this type of clothing, the parts of the body that remain in the air must be protected by the application of protective creams and Vaseline.

Hydrate ourselves before the thirst comes

To do sports we have to hydrate ourselves before we have to be, so during exercise, "drinking water every 20 to 30 minutes is a good guideline," says the specialist.  In general, "drink water (500 ml) in the two hours prior to training, refill with water during training if it is less than one hour and with isotonic drinks if it exceeds it or is of high intensity, and refill (approximately 1,200 ml) in the hour following completion". Not all liquids are good, so you should avoid alcoholic beverages and those containing stimulants, such as caffeine and taurine, among their ingredients, because with them, dehydration occurs more quickly.

How our body manages summer workout

The dehydration that we can suffer when playing sports in high temperatures presents a series of symptoms. "Dizziness, nausea, heart rhythm disturbances and muscle cramps are an indication to go to shaded areas and start drinking fluid". In addition to these symptoms, we can also suffer from heat stroke that will require the attention of a healthcare professional.

Our body gives off the heat, and the best way is to do "a correct cooling after the end of the main part of the training by carrying out a period of exercises of return to calm with progressive decrease in intensity and adjusting them to the activity carried out", explains the teacher. In addition, another mechanism that our body has for expelling heat is rehydration, provided it is done properly.

People with higher risks when training

Training at such high temperatures at this time of year "can be a problem for people with certain basic pathologies, or it can be the cause of certain illnesses", says the specialist. Thus, dehydration can significantly affect "people with alterations in thermoregulation that can make them more prone to cramps and other muscular-skeletal injuries". More people who should be careful when training in summer are those who suffer from "blood pressure disorders, skin problems or allergies to their own sweat".



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On the other hand, heat stroke can be suffered by "people with poor physical fitness, a history of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and those who ingest alcohol or have individual susceptibility".