The increasing use of gyms by young people, the presence of personal trainers and gym instructors, the push by these individuals to use supplements and exercise enhancers and the peer pressure for taking these supplements can be overwhelming.
The increasing use of gyms by young people, the presence of personal trainers and gym instructors, the push by these individuals to use supplements and exercise enhancers and the peer pressure for taking these supplements can be overwhelming. It appears that you are not in the “in” crowd if you do not take supplements. “What supplements are you on?” Is a question often asked, whilst discussing each other’s training schedule. According to “Consumer Reports”, an American publication, Americans spend 2.7 Billion Dollars annually on sports supplements. Exercising is crucial to a better quality of life, a more productive life. Exercise improves health, prevents diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, raised cholesterol and heart disease. It improves memory and helps to beat dementia as one becomes older. It improves memory, makes one feel enthusiastic about daily physical activities, improves sex life, allows one the ability to help others who are disabled, either physically or through age. It gives one an all-round feeling of euphoria, a high without drugs! A study in Sweden found that normal people without risk factors who exercise and develop their bodies live longer and have a better quality of life than their weaker friends. The best exercises to do for the greatest benefit to the body are: i). Aerobic exercises or sports which result in excessive sweating and a rapid heartbeat. Aerobic exercises strengthen the cardiovascular system, resulting in a significant decrease in heart attacks and stroke. Aerobic exercises also decrease blood pressure, improve memory, produce endorphins, thereby reducing pain, prevent arthritis and are a fantastic tool for general well-being including sexual health. ii). Toning exercises are also important to keep the muscles toned for greater strength. This gives the person a feeling of well-being, increases confidence and self-image and results in greater strength. Body building exercises are more intense than toning exercises. A small amount of aerobic exercises, like 10 to 15 mins on the treadmill, is recommended to warm the body before lifting weights. Increased muscle strength results in bulkier muscles with greater strength, increase in self-confidence and self-image. Because of the bulky muscles, people engaging in aerobic sport may find it difficult to manoeuvre, e.g., a bowler in cricket will find it difficult to swing the arm whilst bowling. These exercises need to be sustained to keep the bulkiness of the muscles. Once a person slackens off whilst still maintaining a high protein diet, the muscles go down and generally, the person’s body fat levels rise.
During any exercise, especially vigorous exercises, muscles are damaged and need to be repaired. Because the size of the muscle fibre increases resulting in the bulky muscles, more protein is required to build the fibres. Proteins in the diet break down into amino acids in the bowel and are absorbed as amino acids. It is these amino acids that are used by the body to repair damaged muscles and to make the remaining muscle fibres larger. Genetics. Genetics plays an important part in the development of muscles. Some people have genes which produce a muscular body even without exercising. Some others have bodies with very thin muscle fibres which are difficult to develop. Therefore, genetic make-up is an important factor to consider when exercises. Goals must be realistic. Developing Muscles. The urge to develop the body usually starts in adolescence, when the hormones, testosterone and growth hormone surge through the body of young men. These hormones are responsible for the development and growth of muscle fibres, resulting in a larger muscle mass. Once growth has completed by the age of 18 to 20 years of age, not much more muscle fibres can form. After this age, whatever muscle mass has developed will remain with the person for the rest of their lives. These muscle fibres can be developed to become big and strong, resulting in well-defined muscles, the envy of every man pre-occupied with his body. Once exercising stops, the muscle fibres return to their original state. To keep the muscles looking bulky, one then needs to continuously exercise the muscles to keep their tone. The feeling of developing a super body can be overwhelming in some adolescents and can result in pre-occupation with body image. Peer pressure and pressure from personal trainers can also result in unrealistic goals. The intention to exercise is very important, as all actions are judged by their intention. Why do we want to exercise? We have to search our inner souls for the true answer. Is it for a healthier life style? Is it for performing daily activities better? Is it to impress other people, especially those of the opposite sex? Is it to show off our body to make others envious, especially those who are endowed with lesser muscle structures? We must be honest with ourselves. The problems that arise in some people who exercise vigorously are that, either the exercises are so vigorous that they do harm to the body, tearing muscles and ligaments, or the supplements that are used are harmful to the body. Both of these would defeat the purpose of exercising. The person who over-exercises needs to reassess their requirements with professionals and be under their guidance, especially if one is unable to control one’s own exercising. The importance of protein. Protein is essential to the body for cell growth, especially muscle fibre growth and development, repair of damaged cells, antibody formation, immunity, and for transporting various substances in the blood to cells (Protein-bound substances).
How Much Supplementation Does One Need? Most scientists would agree that people who are involved in body building or weight lifting and high performance athletes do require supplementation mainly in the form of proteins, minerals and vitamins to build their bodies and enhance their performance. How much should the protein supplementation be and what would the harmful effects be on the body in long term users are questions that need to be answered. For the ordinary person who wishes to build some muscle strength and stamina for improved daily living, these high performance protein supplements and massive vitamin and mineral supplementation may not be necessary1. High performance athletes spend many hours in the day with exercises and actual performance of their activities. Ordinary people do not have the time to do this amount of training and do not require the same sort of supplementation. It is not uncommon to find people indulging in high supplementation, deriving their information from some high performance athlete’s supplementation routine and doing a fraction of the activities of the high performance athlete. Such excessive supplementation would definitely be harmful to the body in the long term. People, therefore, need to be realistic in their goals and their achievements within the framework of their other daily activities like work, house hold duties, socialising and leisure time. People who do not have the time to prepare high-protein foods, who are “lazy” eaters or fussy eaters, who eat on the run because of the lack of time, who are vegetarians, would gain significantly from supplementation 2. The physiological make-up of the person is also important. Age, height, weight, gastro-intestinal tolerance, etc., are all factors that need to be taken into account1. Most people would only need to increase their protein intake in the form of food and fruit and fresh vegetables for their vitamins and mineral requirements. Most people would, therefore, not require supplementation in the form of powders and tablets1. Taking high protein dietary supplements can decrease appetite, preventing the person from consuming normal foods for the daily requirements of other nutrients that the body needs3. If a high protein diet goes hand in hand with a low carbohydrate diet, weight loss can occur. This can be a problem in normal weight or under weight individuals2. In 1988, research done by Tamopolsky et al.3 showed that the daily requirement of protein for body-builders was 0.90g per Kg of body weight per day, for endurance athletes, 1.34g/Kg/day. These findings suggest that protein requirement need not be as high as people think they require. An average body-builder with a body weight of 80 kg would require 80 X 0.90g = 72g of protein per day. It was found that endurance athletes required a higher protein intake- 1.2 to 1.4g/kg/day4 . For the general population, the protein requirement is much lower- 0.8g/kg/day3.
Taking in too much of protein and not exercising for the extra protein to be used by the body, i.e., when the body does not need the extra protein, the protein not used by the body gets stored in the body as fat.
Excessively High Protein Supplementation (200gm per day or more). Excessive protein intake coupled with a low calorie intake in the form of fats and carbohydrates, results in a severe metabolic disorder and even death. Renal or kidney damage is thought to be due to damage to the filtration system which ultimately leads to kidney failure5. Information is important. Information is the key to making the correct decision about whether to take supplements, how much and for how long. This information must not be obtained from people with vested interests. The information must be obtained from an independent, reliable source. Body building supplements are dietary supplements to enhance the body functions, especially the muscles, whilst exercising. It allows the body to have all the nutrients available for better cell formation and better muscle fibre construction especially in the adolescent stage of one’s life. Once this is formed well, it remains so as long as the person has a well-balanced diet, providing all the nutrients, and continues exercising in the future. It is an on-going commitment to remain healthy throughout life. Body building supplements may replace meals, enhance weight gain in under-weight individuals, promote weight loss in over-weight individuals or are used to improve athletic performance, especially in professional athletes. The commonest supplements that are used are vitamin/mineral supplements, followed by protein, branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), carbohydrates, glutamine, essential fatty acids, meal replacement products, creatine and testosterone and growth hormones boosters. Supplements may have a single ingredient or may have a combination of ingredients, offering synergistic advantages. The best source of protein and vitamins are from our diet. All the nutrients would be available in a well-balanced diet which includes grains and nuts and seeds, dairy products, cereals, high proteins in the form of eggs or grilled or baked fish or steak. Vegetable proteins are also essential and they are found in soya, lentils, grains and seeds. Each egg has about 5 to 6 grams of protein. Most of the protein is in the white of the egg. Cooked eggs contain a higher protein content that is absorbed by our bowel than raw eggs. Because of the large amount of proteins that are required in body building, supplements may need to be taken by some people. One must be aware of the side effects of a very high protein diet. There is a very heavy load on the kidneys and the liver which can result in damage which may not be apparent until many years have gone by. Many times, the connection is not made between a high protein diet in youth followed by premature kidney and liver problems 20 or 30 years down the line. A balance is required, that is, to use the supplements in a judicious way to get the best advantage with the least amount of side effects.
Types of Supplements
Body building supplements are often heavily marketed to promote better nutrition whilst exercising, to enhance body composition (distribution of fat and muscles) or develop large muscle masses. Whilst some of the information is scientifically based, most of it has no scientific basis but here-say to promote maximum profit rather than maximum benefit to the individual. The theory behind using these supplements is that bodybuilders and endurance athletes, because of their rigorous training methods and stringent goals, require more than the average amounts of proteins to support muscle growth. These are athletes. The average person wanting to develop muscles and become fit does not need large amounts of protein.
Most scientific papers on the subject caution the use of large amounts of protein supplementation because of the possible adverse effect on the kidneys.
Analysis of Supplements.
An analysis of these supplements and their effect on the body needs to be done to understand how they work, if they are necessary or not and if they have any long-term effects on the body.
1. Protein Supplements are generally derived from:
i). Whey protein from milk. Whey makes up 20% of the protein in milk. It is absorbed faster than casein and can be taken before or immediately after a workout. It does not contain all the amino acids necessary for muscle building. Usually, vitamins and minerals are added to enhance the effect of the supplement. Egg white is generally added to whey protein to enhance the protein content. It has not been scientifically established whether these are absorbed completely or not or whether they make a difference or not.
There are 3 types of Whey protein: Whey concentrate (29 to 89% protein by weight), Whey isolate (90% protein by weight and whey hydrolysate. Whey hydrolysate is pre-digested with enzymes and is digested and absorbed by the body in the shortest time.
Whey protein cannot be taken by people allergic to milk or have lactose intolerance. This is a halal source of protein.
The pre-digested Whey protein must be taken with caution as some of the enzymes used to break down the protein may be from non-halal sources.
ii). Casein protein from milk. Casein makes up about 80% of proteins in milk. It is also a good source of protein and has far more amino acids than Whey protein. However, it is very slowly absorbed, can remain in the stomach for long periods of time as a congealed semi-solid substance. It should be taken at bedtime for the next day, allowing digestion to take place overnight. It can cause a bloated feeling and indigestion and can ruin an exercise program. Casein cannot be taken by people allergic to milk or people who have lactose intolerance. This is a halal source of protein.
iii). Soya protein is also a good source of vegetable protein for those allergic to milk or and for those who are lactose intolerant. Soya protein is usually supplemented with large doses of vitamins and minerals to compliment the protein. Egg white is also added to add some animal protein. There is some concern about the presence of Isoflavones, like phyto-oestrogens, in soy powder which can increase the oestrogen in the body of people taking this supplement. Soy protein can elicit an allergic response. This is also halal.
iv). Egg Protein is lactose-free and dairy-free protein. The protein in eggs is rich in quality, hence many protein supplements contain egg powder to enhance the protein. The protein content of a whole large egg is about 6.5gm protein with the white of the egg having about 3.6gm of protein. Because of the side effects of intestinal gas and weight gain from the yolk, many people tend to avoid the yolk. Cooked eggs (hard boiled) contain more protein than raw eggs due to the denaturing of the protein from the heat of cooking.
Eggs contain the following nutrients:
Tryptophan, Treonine, Isoleucine, Lysine, Methionine, Cystine, Phenylalanine, Tyrosine, Valine, Arginine, Histidine, Alanine, Aspartic Acid, Glutamic Acid, Glycine, Proline, Serine, water, Vitamin A, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B5 (Panthothenic Acid), Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid), Vitamin B12, Choline, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Cholesterol.
v). Hemp seed (Cannabis) contains complete and highly digestible protein (30gm of protein per 100 gms). Hemp oil contains high levels of essential fatty acids. It is not easily available due to the psychogenic properties of some of the products of this plant.
-vi). Rice protein is a complete protein and highly digestible when obtained from whole grain. It is allergen-free. Since it is low in the amino acid, lysine, pea powder is usually added to rice protein powder to increase the lysine content and make is more balanced. This is mainly used by vegetarian athletes although anyone may use it.vii). Pea protein is hypo-allergenic and has a very light texture than most protein powders. It has an amino acid profile similar to soy protein. However, it does not have the concern about phyto-oestrogens which are contained in soy protein. This is also used mainly by vegetarian athletes although anyone may use it.
Supplements come in various forms, ready to drink shakes, powders, which are mixed in water, milk or juice and available in various flavours, bars, bites, oats bars, gels, etc., all satisfying different palates. They contain between 80 and 90gms of protein in 100gms.
Food Source Protein in gms per 100gms or 100mls of liquid:
Steak 27 to 34, Chicken Breast 34, Tuna 30, Tuna Canned 26, Beef 26, Peanuts 24, Soybeans, boiled, 12. Yogurt 5.0, Milk, 3.6. 6
2. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA),
The protein we consume is broken down by enzymes in our bowel into amino acids. The amino acids are the building blocks that our body needs to grow and to repair damaged tissues. There are a group of Amino Acids called Essential Amino Acids. These Amino Acids cannot be synthesised by the body and have to be consumed. They are Histidine, Leucine, Isoleucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophane and Valine. Non-Essential Amino Acids are Alanine, Arginine, Aspartic Acid, Cysteine, Glutamic Acid, Glutamine, Glycine, Proline, Serine, Tyrosine, Asparagine and Selenocysteine. These can be synthesised by the body. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essential_amino_acid
BCAA form part of the Essential Amino Acids and are of 3 types: leucine, isoleucine and valine. Each has numerous benefits to the tissues, especially muscles. About one third of the protein in muscles is BCAA. They are metabolised in the muscles and have a profound anabolic (building) effect5. The most important of these is leucine as the other two are derived from the metabolism of leucine. It is a powerful muscle builder.7.
Leucine toxicity causes delirium and neurological disorders.
Foods that contain leucine are, in order of concentration in gms per 100gms8:
Soy Beans, mature, raw 2.97, Beef, fat-trimmed 1.76, Peanuts 1.67, Pink Salmon, raw 1.62, Wheat germ, 1.57, Almonds, 1.49, Chicken, meat only, 1.48, Chicken egg, raw with yolk, 1.4, Oats 1.3, Beans, pinto, cooked, 0.77, Lentils 0.65, Chickpea, cooked, 0.63, Corn, yellow, 0.35, Cow’s milk, full cream, 0.27, Rice, brown, medium grained, cooked 0.19. (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/leucine) .
Side Effects of a High Protein Diet.
1. Risk of Kidney Disease with very high concentrations of protein (Over 200gm per day).
2. Digestive Problems, including constipation, reduced appetite with the potential for consuming less nutritious foods with other essential nutrients that the body requires and bloatedness.
3. Ketoacidosis, from the production of ketones, a by-product of fat and protein metabolism. Results in tiredness, lethargy and can lead to unconsciousness in extreme cases.
4. Bad Breath, due to the release of ammonia and ketones.
5. Osteoporosis, with long term use of a high protein diet, although this has not been confirmed by studies.
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy much like how petrol is needed by a vehicle. Carbohydrate supplementation should be low to medium Glycaemic Index (GI). The GI is an index that measures the speed with which carbohydrates gets absorbed by the bowel as compared to glucose, which has a GI of 100. Cut out high GI foods. They cause unnecessary fluctuations in the blood glucose levels and can cause hunger. For road running, one can use a high quality long-chain glucose polymer carbohydrate supplement. An 80% carbohydrate and 20% protein combination works the best for high endurance sport, e.g., competitive running.
Some high protein supplements contain large amounts of carbohydrates for endurance activities when large amounts of energy are needed over a longer period of time. If these supplements are taken by body builders who do not need the large amounts of energy, the extra carbohydrate content will be stored in the body as fat and will result in weight gain.
Diabetics, especially Type 1 Diabetics must take pure protein supplements without any carbohydrates. The carbohydrates in these supplements are absorbed very fast and can play havoc with blood glucose levels.
Glutamine, an Amino Acid, is abundantly found in the body, stored mainly in human muscles and is manufactured in the lungs. Glutamine is used by the body to counteract the lactic acidosis that occurs following strenuous exercise. It helps to remove excess ammonia from the body. It helps to regulate the immune system, improves brain function and digestion. Depletion of glutamine results in the body breaking down muscle to obtain the glutamine. Ingestion of glutamine is, therefore, very important whilst doing strenuous exercising.9,10.
Because the body makes Glutamine, there is generally no need to take Glutamine supplements. However, in conditions such as severe injuries, surgery, severe illnesses, prolonged stress and increased muscle exercise and muscle building, a supplement may need to be taken since more Glutamine would be required.
Glutamine also plays a role in a variety of biochemical functions including protein synthesis, cellular energy, nitrogen and carbon donation and is a non-toxic transporter of ammonia in the blood stream.11,12.
Glutamine has been used in severe illness and injuries when cortisol levels rise. Cortisol uses up Glutamine. Supplementation may help.
Glutamine has been found to be helpful in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and developing mouth ulcers. Glutamine may also help to reduce diarrhoea following chemotherapy.
It has been used in inflammatory bowel disease, in HIV Patients with severe loss of weight, ADHD in children, Alcohol withdrawal support, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, etc.
Doses of 500mg three times a day for adults is considered safe as a supplement. Doses of 4 to 8 gms are sometimes used in HIV patients and selective chemotherapy patients. Should not exceed 40gm a day.
Side Effects include liver damage, seizures, manic disorders. Use in pregnancy and lactation has not been studied. Drug interactions can occur with lactulose supplements, some chemotherapeutic agents, and some anti-epileptic treatment.
It is commonly found in Protein supplements. Food sources of Glutamine include beef, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, dairy products, wheat, cabbage, beets, beans, spinach and parsley. Small amounts of free L-glutamine are also found in vegetable juices.13
5. Linoleic Acid Alpha Linoleic Acid and Linoleic Acid are Essential Fatty Acids that cannot be manufactured by the body.
They have an anti-inflammatory effect. They reduce inflammation caused by vigorous exercising, when muscles are torn or damaged.18 Food sources of Linoleic Acid include all vegetable oils including sunflower and olive oils, fatty fish like salmon and trout, flaxseed or linseed, walnuts and pumpkin seeds. Fish oil supplements are rich in Linoleic Acid. In large doses, it causes nausea, indigestion, diarrhoea, worsens diabetes and may cause diabetes. Normal average diet contains between 16 and 176mg per day. Can use doses of up to 4g/day with excessive exercising for short periods. 6. Creatine Creatine, an amino acid, occurs naturally in the body. It is manufactured in the kidneys. Liver and pancreas. It is created in the form of Creatine Phosphate and stored in the muscles. When needed for short bursts of energy in the muscle, it is converted to Adeno-tri-phosphate (ATP), a powerful source of energy in the body. It supplies energy to the muscle fibres in short bursts during exercising. Some scientific studies have shown that Creatine taken during exercising improves strength, energy, muscle mass and recovery times.14,15 It also helps in brain function and reduces mental fatigue.16,17
It increases the body’s ability to produce energy rapidly. With more energy, more training can be done and muscles built faster. Creatine is most effective in high intensity training and explosive activities. This includes weight training and sports that require short bursts of effort, like sprinting, soccer, rugby, squash, etc. Weight gain is a problem with Creatine as it is osmotically active and uses water whilst creating the energy. If one takes Creatine without exercising, weight gain can be profound. Muscle fibres grow bigger when Creatine is taken.18 Side effects include possible kidney disease, as Creatine is excreted as Creatinine from the kidneys. In some people, it may cause liver disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, muscle cramps, diarrhoea and dehydration. People under 18 should not take it as there is a possibility of tearing muscles during vigorous training. These tears heal with scarring, damaging muscles permanently. Creatine does not work in some individuals, most likely due to genetic factors. The influence of Creatine on the growing bone in people under 18 has not been studied. Creatine has been studied in patients suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, 19,20,21 Muscular Dystrophy22, Rheumatoid Arthritis,23, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Heart Failure224,25
Creatine has been found to lower homocysteine levels26. Raised Homocysteine is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and myocardial infarction.
Creatine has been found to increase bone density if combined with resistance training in the elderly.27 Drug interactions can occur and must be avoided in people taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, caffeine, cimetidine, diuretics, probenecid and drugs that affect the kidneys.
Food source Creatine can be found in herring, tuna, salmon and beef.
Creatine supplementation should be taken with protein and low to medium GI carbohydrates for greater effect.28 habdomyolysis, a severe form of muscle wasting leading to acute renal failure and death, has occurred in some athletes taking large doses (10gm/day).29
In correct doses, not exceeding the recommended doses, Creatine can be a useful amino acid supplement in normal people needing to develop their muscles.30
7. Thermogenic Products
These are products that manufacturers claim increases body temperature by increasing the metabolic rate and, therefore increases the burning of body fat resulting in weight loss. These supplements usually contain ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin. The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned these products for use as weight reducing agents, due to their adverse effects on the cardiovascular system.
8. Testosterone and Growth Hormone Boosters and Pro-hormones.
These are compounds which are thought to increase the testosterone and growth hormone levels. Testosterone is a male hormone responsible for muscle growth and muscle mass. In a controlled study, it was found that an extract of Eurycoma longifolia increased muscle size in male rats by as much as 20%. Growth hormone increases protein synthesis, increasing growth in under 18 people. After 18 years old, it repairs tissues by synthesising protein for use by the tissues, especially muscles.
Pro-hormones are precursors of hormones, in this case, the naturally occurring hormones, testosterone and growth hormone. Although they increase the testosterone levels, they inadvertently also increase the oestrogen levels. There is no evidence to suggest that pro- hormones work. The long term effects of interfering with hormones, especially sex hormones, are not known. Their purchase was made illegal without a prescription in USA in 2004.
Increasing body testosterone levels with testosterone boosters and pro-hormones results in shutting off of the body’s own bio-feedback mechanism resulting in loss of the stimulation required by the body to produce its own testosterone. Over a period of time, it can lead to impotence and sterility. Biofeedback mechanism works as follows:
Low testosterone in the blood - pituitary produces Follicular Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinising Hormone (LH) - these hormones encourage the testes to produce more testosterone - testosterone increases. Increased testosterone informs the pituitary to produce less FSH and LH. Testes slow production of testosterone.
Taking testosterone supplements and pro-hormones increase blood testosterone levels - pituitary stops production of FSH and LH - no stimulation of testes - no endogenous testosterone produced - in the long term testicular atrophy occurs leading to low sperm count, infertility and impotence.
9. Anabolic Steroids
Anabolic Steroids or Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS), first isolated in the 1930s and synthesized, mimic the effects of Testosterone and Dihydrotestosterone in the body. They increase protein synthesis in cells including and especially muscle fibres, increasing muscle bulk. They have an androgenic (male characteristics increased, hair growth, testicular growth) and virilising (aggressiveness, deep voice, growth of bones before 18 years of age) effect on the body.
They are used in Medicine to stimulate bone growth, stimulate appetite, induce male puberty and treat chronic muscle wasting in conditions such as cancer, HIVAIDS and long bed-rest from chronic illnesses or prolonged ICU admissions.
Long term use or excessive use can produce health risks in individuals31 These include a raised cholesterol (raised LDL or bad Cholesterol and a lowering of HDL or good Cholesterol) with associated cardiovascular risks32, acne33, high blood pressure34, liver disorder and serious, dangerous changes to the left side of the heart which pumps blood to the whole body35, 36, hormone imbalances causing testicular atrophy and gynaecomastia (development of breasts), Infertility37, prostate enlargement, immune deficiency, the development of Diabetes, etc.
Their use in sport is regarded as doping and banned by all major sporting bodies in the world. It is a prescription drug for use only in medical conditions. However, there is a huge “Black Market” where AAS is manufactured clandestinely and sold “under the counter” to users by unscrupulous personal trainers, gym instructors and trainers and couches of sporting teams.
It is best to keep well away from Anabolic Steroids. The risks far outweigh the benefits.
Minerals and Vitamins are absolutely necessary for normal functions of every cell, including muscle fibres. They are involved in chemical reactions in every part of the body. The best balance of micronutrients is obtained from a well-balanced diet. If for some reason, the diet is not adequate in fresh vegetable salads, fresh fruit and nuts and grains, then a supplement may be taken. Most sports supplements contain a variety of micronutrients. There is often no need to take a separate mineral or Vitamin supplement.
11. Fluid Balance
It is important to maintain fluid levels before and after exercising. Dehydration can cause dizziness, tiredness, lethargy and a strain on the kidneys. Water is the best liquid for rehydration. Ideally, an adult needs about 2.5 litres of fluids a day. With exercise and excessive sweating, more liquids are required. Urine must be clear before exercising and after exercising. If urine is concentrated, it may mean that dehydration is present.
1. Supplementation definitely enhances the stamina and muscle building capacity of the body. Muscle mass is built faster and sport is enhanced. But supplementation is not a magical potion that would automatically build muscles without the proper effort. Supplements should be taken to augment a well-balanced diet so that the right amount of fats, carbohydrates, protein and micronutrients are available to the body. It must be individualised. It does not mean that more is better or the more expensive, the better. The best supplement is derived from food source. It is natural, has the co-factors for proper absorption in the bowel and in correct proportions to what the body needs. There are no side effects, except individual allergies, sensitivities and intolerances.
2. Supplements in the form of powders and liquids can be taken by people who:
i). Are professional athletes involved in weight lifting or endurance sports,
ii). Have allergies, sensitivities and intolerances to food supplements,
iii). Are fussy eaters and cannot eat large quantities of protein in foods,
iv ). Do not have time to prepare nutritious foods that are rich in the
nutrients that the body needs,
v). Require supplements immediately before and after vigorous exercises.
3. Generally, body builders require about 0.70 to 1.00 gm of protein/kg/day,
endurance athletes, about 1.30 to 1.60gm/kg/day. It is quite easy to get this amount
of protein from the diet, in the form of eggs, meat, chicken, fish, soya,
lentils, etc. The diet could be varied daily to avoid boredom.
4. High doses of protein supplementation (more than 200gm per day) carries long term risks and must be avoided no matter how tempting. In this case, more does not mean better. More may mean trouble in the future in the form of kidney problems and muscle damage. In the case of anabolic steroids, it may mean infertility and impotence, a high price to pay. High doses of creatine (10gms a day) may lead to death. With protein supplements containing 90 to 97gm protein per 100gm, it is easy to see how people can overdose themselves with protein and cause problems for themselves.
5. One needs to be sensible about supplements. One’s intention to exercise again comes into sharp focus. If the intention is to lead a healthy life, taking all these supplements defeats the purpose. Most of these supplements are manufactured in factories and do not have the food “energy” that wholesome food has soon after harvesting or slaughtering. That food “energy” is so important for us to consume to get the true benefits of food that the Creator and Sustainer has offered us.
Dr. Farouk Haffejee