There is a wealth of nutritional and supplement information out there for us to muse over…sadly, lot’s of it seems to amuse rather than infuse our brains with factual, science based supplements to use (I’m a poet and I didn’t know it). The short and fast of it is, when it comes to nutrition and supplementation, everybody seems to be an expert. As a qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist, I strive to ensure the information given on our blog is always backed by peer reviewed articles, robust books or from reputable sources such as governing bodies e.g. World Health Organisation, British Dietetic Association or the Food Standards Agency to name but a few.
Guys, it’s time to realise, that in order to maximise, you need to be supplement wise! :)
Over the coming weeks we will deliver a series of informative articles on the key supplements for health, fitness and vitality. In doing this we are not professing that supplements are wonder powders, drinks or capsules; they are simply designed to harness the goodness you can obtain from your diet, but in a concentrated, affordable form. To acquaint our customers and readers to the vast amounts of supplements available to us i.e. the one's that actually work, we will go from A through to Z and pick out some of the science backed supplements that could help you.
Today’s article looks at the ‘B’s of the supplement world. So without further delay let’s start with the energy boosting, cell protecting and overall health promoting food that is…Beetroot.
A dense source of nitrates, beetroot can actually help to promote vasodilation (widening of the blood vessels) which improves oxygen delivery to your brain and muscles. The enhanced oxygen delivery allows you to train harder for longer, and can potentially reduce the risk of injury. The vasodilatory response associated with beetroot (or beetroot supplement) consumption can also reduce blood pressure and reduce the onset of heart disease or acute cardiac events. Beetroot is also high in cell protective antioxidants which limit the damage of free radicals that accumulate in our blood streams after exercise (Kapil, Milsom, Okorie et al. 2010).
Recommendation- Optimum Health Beetroot
Want to increase your strength; muscle mass and energy levels, consider Beta- alanine. When ingested this amino acid combines with histidine to form carnosine, a dipeptide that is integral to muscle contraction and development. The International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests that carnosine generates more forceful muscle contractions, increases the duration for which the muscle contracts, and can therefore support the development of muscle mass, strength and endurance, whilst simultaneously supporting fat loss and toning. When stacked with Creatine monohydrate, the results were cumulative leading to greater increases in muscular development and size (Llewellyn, 2009).
Recommendation- Universal Beta Ala 9
A potent antioxidant, phytonutrient and a pro-vitamin A which helps to soak up damaging free radicals (atom with unpaired electrons) that accumulates during training. If free radicals are allowed to accumulate, damage will occur to our cells including our organs, veins, arteries and muscle. The end result can be any or all of the following:
- Impaired energy
- Increased physical stress
- Drops in motivation
- Impaired immune response
- Overall weakness
- Neuromuscular fatigue (fatigued mind/muscle connection)
- Severe plateaus/declines in your training and health including heart disease and some cancers
(Gibson and Edwards, 1985; Lehman et al. 1993).
To limit the onset of the above, we must provide protection through adequate rest and diet, therefore consuming foods such as Liver, milk, cheese, carrots and green leafy veg as well as orange coloured fruits is a great way to get some Beta-carotene. However, not everybody consumes enough of these on a regular basis to deliver adequate protective antioxidants; therefore a supplement is a more than viable option. According to the Department of Health Dietary reference values for food energy, the average recommended intake of Beta- Carotene is 5,000-25,000 IU per day.
Recommendation-Health Aid Beta Carotene
Branched- Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s)
These include the essential aa’s Isoleucine, Leucine and Valine. These are separated due to their structural distinction as well as their prominence in skeletal muscle (making up 14-18% of muscles aa’s). The ISSN (2010) explain how BCAA’s are the most effective aa in the development of lean muscle tissue…a key reason to make sure you’re not losing out on your essential aa’s! BCAA’s have also been seen to reduce the damaging effects of cortisol, a stress hormone that is released during training. Cortisol increases muscle catabolism (muscle breakdown) and can worsen the DOMs effect (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), BCAA’s limit muscle breakdown whilst supporting healing and repair making them an ideal pre, intra, and post-workout supplement (Greenwood, Kalman and Antonio, 2008).
Recommendation- Optimum Nutrition BCAA Powder
Betaine plays a big part in maintaining the integrity of our joints and liver, it supports cellular hydration and promotes cell volume. It helps to lubricate joints through channelling fluid to these areas, preventing cellular dehydration. Betaine is also a key component of aerobic and anaerobic energy production as well as supporting the internal synthesis of creatine which increases our muscular stores of creatine phosphate. Alongside this, Betaine has also been linked to elevations in growth hormone and Insulin like growth factor- 1 (IGF-1). Betaine is quickly becoming one of the most popular supplements out there for its plethora of reported training benefits (Llewellyn, 2009). The recommended intake is approximately 2.5g a day.
Sources- Spinach, Wheat, beets, and shell fish.