Health and sport supplementation is a minefield for many people wanting to incorporate additional nutrients into their diet. The range of supplements available to the consumer is huge, but good, reliable, evidence based information is not so easy to come by…never mind interpreting it. So when it comes to supplements, the best thing you can do (certainly to begin with) is keep it simple, because quite often some of the most simple supplements are some of the most effective. Titrating the dose of L- arginine or Beta- alanine is beneficial, but it’s something is best practiced under the guidance of a nutrition expert such as a Dietitian. There is a place for these supplements, but they need a grounding, they need a platform in order to work off, and that base is without doubt a balanced diet, exercise and two supplements… Protein and Creatine.
A bit about protein…
If you’ve read articles on protein before, then no doubt you will have heard how effective this amino acid based supplement powerhouse is at supporting muscle growth, development, size and strength. Protein is the general term given to a group of amino acids, so muscle for example is a precise combination of certain amino acids that together form a muscle protein. Other forms of proteins include heart protein, lung protein and skin protein…protein is an integral component of every tissue in the human body. If protein levels aren’t high enough to meet the bodies needs, then muscles will either remain the same or shrink…but they definitely WON’T grow. The body has to be in positive nitrogen balance in order to grow (nitrogen is relative to protein levels), so supplementing with protein provides the body with adequate amino acids (in particular the BCAAs Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine) to promote lean growth.
Why are protein supplements so important?
The efficacy of protein as an ergogenic aid (performance enhancer) is irrefutable, it has been backed by science for a number of years, it’s one of the most heavily researched supplements known to man. We all know we can get protein through our diet, this is (and must remain) the primary avenue for protein ingestion, but elite athletes will usually be profoundly aware of how difficult it can be to ingest enough protein to meet their requirements from food alone! Here in lies the main role of a protein supplement, to do just that, ‘supplement’ your habitual protein intake so that you meet your protein requirements. Quite simply, your body needs protein so that it can break it down into its individual amino acid components, so that they can be used as building blocks for muscle.
A bit about creatine…
Creatine is the most researched supplement ever. It has stood the test of numerous peer reviewed journal articles and has been labelled one of the ‘most effective’ supplements of all time! creatine’s effects are proven, it is the unique energy source to your muscles meaning it can’t be poached for energy by your other organs and energy systems!
Why combine protein and creatine?
Protein and creatine have a cumulative effect when consumed together, in other words the combined effect of protein and creatine exceeds the effect they have when consumed in isolation. This is because the creatine energises the training session, particularly enhancing your ability to perform power movements, whilst the protein acts as the building blocks to promote growth after exercise. See creatine as the fuel to promote muscle breakdown, and the protein as the blocks to rebuild the muscle bigger and better than ever before! So if you have a decision to make regarding supplementation, hopefully this has cleared things up a little for you.
Llewellyn, W. (2009). Sport Supplement Reference Guide. FL: Molecular Nutrition LLC.