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Should Amateur Athletes Take Supplements To Enhance Performance?

Supplementation can provide marginal gains to an athletes performance, and this could be the difference between winning a losing a contest. Most athletes who compete at a high level will take some sort of supplementation to aid their diet. Whether this is a multi vitamin, protein shake or a sports drink, each one has a specific effect on the body, thus will effect how an athletes performs. 

Campbell et al (2011) researched potential beneficial supplements for athletes in combat sports and made 6 recommendations.

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(Campbell et al, 2011)

Creatine has been shown in many studies to increase the amount of stored energy and improve the bodies ability to resynthesise energy quickly during high intensity intermittent bouts. In boxing terms this means that the boxer will be able to reload shot combinations at near full capacity a lot quicker.

It has been suggested that taking 28 days of B-Alanine increases intramuscular carnosine levels, Carnosine is found in high concentration in skeletal muscle, primarily type II muscle fibers, which are the fast-twitch muscle fibers used during explosive movements. Carnosine contributes to buffering H+ concentrations (resulting from the production of lactic acid) during high-intensity activities. For this reason, carnosine is believed to be one of the primary muscle-buffering substances available in skeletal muscle.

Hydroxy-b-methylbutyrate (HMB) is a metabolite of the branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) leucine and has been shown to play a role in the regulation of protein breakdown in the body. Specifically, HMB helps inhibit proteolysis, which is the natural process of breaking down muscle that occurs especially after high-intensity activity.

The most popular protein supplements are whey protein, casein protein, and soy protein. Each of these protein sources is rich in essential amino acids. In addition, these protein supplement sources have been shown to be effective at improving muscular strength in conjunction with a resistance training program.

Caffeine has been shown to increase alertness therefore will improve reaction time in a boxer. It has also been linked to an increase in power production. 

Sodium Bicarbonate is an antacid and has been shown to lower pH, therefore during vigorous exercise it can act as a buffering agent against the lactic acid build up. 

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Examine.com is one of the best websites for up to date, journal reviewed information on nutrition and supplements. 

You can simply search for any supplement and the site will bring together all the relevant research on that supplement.

For example, on the left we searched for caffeine. As you can see, the site has identified that there is a moderate consensus that caffeine increases anaerobic capacity in runners. It has identified that there are 7 papers that focus on anaerobic running capacity and caffeine link. The site provides you with a brief summary of the findings, but also allows access to the abstracts of each journal allowing you to review the findings in greater detail. 

By using this site, should eliminate the need for trial and error when it comes to supplementation. 

References

Campbell, B.I., La Bounty, P.M., Wilborn, C.D (2011) Dietary Supplements Used in Combat Sports. National Strength and Conditioning Journal. 23 (6) 50 - 59