Sports Supplements And Myths

MythsSportsmen, athletes and body builders often resort to supplements to enhance performance, endurance, and to gain muscle. It is commonly advised by unqualified fitness trainers without obtaining a clear medical and fitness index of the individual.  In some cases, supplements can be very dangerous. This is the case even for the commonly prescribed whey protein formulas for muscle gain.  Expert nutritionists and doctors are often asked by people who intend to gain muscle mass if it is safe to take whey proteins, creatine or other supplements.

Myths are often confused with facts. Many of these popular supplements in reality have little or no benefits and indeed their adverse effects can be quite dangerous.

Creatine : Creatine phosphate in muscle donates phosphate to adenosine diphosphate to reconstitute adenosine triphosphate. The objective of creatine supplementation is to increase energy storage in muscle as a means of enhancing performance. There is actually very little evidence of benefit in endurance activities.  Adverse effects include stomach cramps and weight gain.

Carnitine: Carnitine is believed to enhance  performance by inhibiting lactic acid during high intensity training and leads to quicker   recovery.  Lactic acid is produced during high intensity workouts especially under anaerobic conditions. But overall evidence against benefits of using carnitine is inconsistent and not strong.

Caffeine: Caffeine in pure form or isolated form is considered a drug rather than nutrient and is banned by the international Olympic committee.  Caffeine is a stimulant and long term caffeine supplementation has no benefits in sports or athletic performance.

High protein supplements

Recommended protein intake for adults is 0.8 grams per kg ideal body weight per day.  That is a man weighing 65 kilos and is at an ideal BMI of less than 25, should get 52 grams of proteins per day.  Twice this amount is recommended or believed to be of benefit for muscle development.  An intake as high as 2 to 2.5 grams per kg body weight can be harmful in the long run, stressing out the kidneys.   The proteins should be of high biological value and should come from natural foods such as eggs, milk and milk products and lean meats rather than protein powders or supplements, formulas or isolated whey proteins.

A study of supplements done at the Exercise & Sport Nutrition Laboratory, Tennessee by Dr. Richard Kreider, found that ingesting more protein than necessary to maintain protein balance during training (e.g.,> 1.8 g/kg/d) does not promote greater gains in strength or fat-free mass. And the study recommends that athletes typically do not need to supplement their normal diets with protein, provided they eat enough quality protein to maintain protein balance.

Glutamine and branched chain amino acids (BCAA)

In theory it is believed that BCAA supplements during intense training may help minimize protein degradation and thereby lead to greater gains in fat-free mass. But actual studies do not agree with these findings and have found little or no evidence of BCAA benefits on muscle gain.

Preliminary studies indicate that supplementation with branched-chain amino acids (4 to 16 g) and/or glutamine (4 to 12 g) can prevent the decline or even increase glutamine concentration during exercise  In theory these changes in glutamine concentration could have beneficial effects on protein synthesis and immune function. However, studies found little or no effect on performance or immune status (Rohde et al., 1998; Nieman and Pedersen, 1999). It is also unclear whether long-term supplementation of glutamine affects protein synthesis, body composition, or the incidence of upper respiratory-tract infections during training.


HMB supplementation during 3 to 8 weeks of training has been reported to promote significantly greater gains of fat-free mass and strength in untrained men and women initiating resistance training.  These benefits were associated with some amount of muscle damage as well.  The researchers state that the findings of HMB supplementation are limited to untrained individuals. There is no evidence to support if HMB supplementation promotes gains in fat-free mass and strength during resistance training in well-trained athletes. Indeed, there are several reports of no significant effects of HMB supplementation (3 to 6 g per day) in well-trained athletes.

Stay safe and healthy with natural nutrition from professionally planned meals at Calorie Care. Whether it is counting calories, proteins or balancing out fiber and sugar, Calorie Care has it all.  Visit for your nutrition needs !