First things first…..I’m fully aware today is Thursday and not Friday, but I also know Friday is a holiday for a lot of people, so I thtought it best to introduce Jen to you a day early, on Thursday, so you can enjoy her fabulous post on sports supplements before partaking in the 4th of July celebrations! 🙂
Hello Cowgirl Runs readers, I was honoured when Ange asked me to guest blog as I am a loyal reader and fellow Calgarian. My name is Jen and I write a blog called Pretty Little Grub. I am a Registered Dietitian & professional makeup artist. I obviously have huge passion for nutrition & makeup, but my passions also extend into fitness. I am currently training to complete my first marathon, the New York City Marathon. Go big or go home, right!
Ange has featured me in a few of her Saturday Link Loves. Although I post on a variety of topics, every time, Ange has chosen my FYI Friday posts which are about hot nutrition topics. Since that seems to be her favourite topic, I decided to carry that theme over here and share a hot topic with you.
If you’re into any type of sports, you have likely heard of sports supplements. Now, I am not going to discuss the basic ones such as Gatorade, gels, protein bars, etc. If you want you can read my post on running nutrition here. Instead, I am going to discuss some of the more specialized performance enhancing supplements such as creatine, branched chain amino acids and beta-alanine, and how they specifically relate to distance running. What does a Registered Dietitian think of these supplements and are they worth your money?
Creatine is the number one used sports supplement on the market. There is a reason for that, it works. Your body uses creatine to create energy during high intensity short interval exercises. Supplementing with creatine ensures that it is available for your body during these exercise bouts. This leads to increased exercise capacity and subsequent improvements in performance and strength.
Does it work for running?
There is not currently any evidence to support the use of creatine for distance runners. In fact, some runners may have negative effects due to the weight gain associated with taking creatine (mostly water retention).
While creatine does not directly impact endurance performance it may indirectly have positive effects. Creatine could be used during strength or interval training. The increased strength gains may lead to overall improvement in speed. However, these gains on a recreational runner may be negligible.
When engaging in intense exercise our body must supply energy to our muscles. During this process, we create a by-product called lactic acid which negatively affects performance. Beta-alanine works by buffering the acid and delaying the onset of fatigue.
Does it work for running?
During distance running the body mostly uses aerobic methods of energy production and therefore less lactic acid is built up compared to anaerobic activities such as weight lifting or sprinting. Beta-Alanine has evidence to support its effectiveness in high intensity and resistance training exercises. However, there is lack of supporting evidence for its use in delaying fatigue for endurance activity.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s):
BCAA’s can act as a source of fuel to muscles when carbohydrates are low. During endurance activity, carbohydrate stores are most often depleted. Additionally, low levels of BCAAs are linked to fatigue.
Does it work for running?
While BCAA’s can provide a source of fuel, if intake of carbohydrate is adequate, they are not needed. Therefore, fuelling with carbohydrates during a run is just as effective. There is not currently any evidence to support the delay of fatigue by use of BCAAs.
Sports supplements may give a competitive edge. However, it’s important to think about goals. For a recreational runner hoping to just finish a marathon, supplements likely are not necessary. For someone working on a specific goal or trying to Boston Qualify, the use of a supplement could make all the difference.
Nutrition research is ever-evolving, just because there isn’t evidence to support a supplement at this time does not mean that won’t change in a month or two. The above mentioned supplements have limited side effects if taken in appropriate doses. Therefore, my opinion is that it’s a personal choice if you wish to take them.
- Decide what’s right for you. Consider cost, potential benefit and potential side effects.
- Ensure you do not exceed the recommended dosage.
- Look at labels for a NPN (natural product number) or DIN (Drug Identification Number) which shows that the product has been approved by Health Canada.
- Try one thing at a time so you can monitor for potential benefits and/or side effects
Do you take any sport supplements? What’s most important to you when choosing a supplement?
Thanks so much, Jen!
I was super excited when she suggested posting about sports supplements as I’m always interested in learning something new about how to help my body to perform better, and who better to write about it than a RD?
I hope all my wonderful American friends enjoy their long weekend!
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