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Sports Nutrition: Supplements & Ergogenic Aids

Ergogenic aids are applications or techniques that increase performance capacity work efficiency, and enable easy recovery after exercises or easy adaptation to difficult training. Nutritional support strategies before and during exercise are thought to replenish building block stores, maintain fluid balance, and facilitate regeneration between competitions. The use of ergogenic support can provide an advantage in terms of sportive performance by increasing the ability to perform intermittent high-intensity activity and/or motor skills (Dziedzic & Higham, 2014). Ergogenic supplements are often sold as tablets, capsules, soft gels, liquids, powders, and sticks (Kreider et al., 2010). It is reported that ergogenic nutritional supplements actually increase performance in a very small part, however, they can cause different health problems (Di Luigi, 2008; Maughan, 2005). Using uncontrolled ergogenic nutritional supplements can reduce the bioavailability of many nutrients or the effectiveness of other drugs used (Millen et al., 2004). Athletes turn to sportive nutritional products in order to meet the energy they lose. In this article, information is given about the use of supplements and ergonomic supports and their effects on athlete performance.

Figure 1. Sports nutrition supplement on shelf. (n.d.)

Protein powders are ergogenic supplements that are widely used among athletes to increase muscle mass. In particular, casein is thought to have positive effects in long-term resistance exercises. One of the commonly used proteins in sports nutrition is whey protein. Whey protein helps weight loss by reducing appetite and increasing satiety through various mechanisms such as regulation of satiety hormones and hepatic gluconeogenesis (Wirunsawanya et al., 2018). In addition, it has been reported that these protein supplements contribute to the reduction of body weight and total fat mass in overweight and obese patients and to the elimination of cardiovascular risk factors (Wirunsawanya et al., 2018). Studies show that it reduces muscle loss, protects body composition, increases protein synthesis, creates hypertrophy in muscle, repairs muscle damage and increases fat burning (Keri Marshall, 2004; Cooke et al., 2009; Burd et al., 2011; Tsutsumi & Tsutsumi, 2014). Whey protein supplementation helps to repair muscle damage caused by exercise (Buckley et al., 2010). There are studies that predict a positive effect on creatine kinase and blood concentration levels with six-week whey protein supplementation (Philpott et al., 2018). Whey protein supplementation can improve exercise performance in trained men (West et al.,2017).

Sports drinks are products that are produced for the maximum efficiency of the athletes and provide them with benefits in the acute period. For short-term intense workouts, sports drinks can be a good support before and during exercise, while sports drinks can be highly effective for long and intermittent workouts. In addition, it has been emphasized that low-carbohydrate drinks can contribute to performance in order to prevent both the emptying of carbohydrate stores and the loss of fluid-electrolyte in long-term endurance exercises (Coombes, 2000). Sports and energy drinks can be consumed by athletes to replace energy, fluid and electrolytes lost during exercise and to increase performance. However, the composition, active ingredients, effects on sports performance as risk factors of both products are different from each other. When sports drinks are used and are correctly adjusted to the type of sport and the individual, they help to significantly improve physical performance due to their carbohydrate, electrolyte and fluid contents. It has been reported that drinking protein-containing sports drinks during exercise increases endurance, reduces dehydration-induced weight loss, and supports reducing muscle damage after exercise compared to those containing only carbohydrates and electrolytes (Naclerio, 2014). Sports drinks contain different types of carbohydrates (sucrose, fructose, glucose polymers, glucose) and they consist of colorant, and electrolytes. At the same time, if they contain 6-8% glucose and sucrose, they are absorbed as fast as water in the body, and they also provide energy to the working muscles. Since those with a carbohydrate ratio of 6-10% are quickly absorbed and mixed with the blood, they are recommended to be used during activity. Those with a carbohydrate ratio of 10-25% can be used during rest, since absorption is completed in a longer time. In addition, drinks containing more than 10% carbohydrates can cause nausea, diarrhea and cramps in some individuals. This may be due to increased insulin sensitivity after exercise. Sports drinks also contain sodium and potassium electrolytes. Drinks containing sodium trigger the thirst mechanism and encourage fluid intake. Sodium also improves absorption and retention. It also helps athletes who sweat excessively and salty to replenish salt. While the drinks containing sodium do not isolate the feeling of thirst, the ones that do not (including drinking water) cause a decrease in the desire to drink water and, consequently, insufficient fluid intake, as it isolates thirst. When glucose and sodium are added to water, fluid absorption is accelerated because glucose and sodium accelerate osmosis (Naclerio, 2014). Despite strategies that may be effective, improper use can lead to diabetes and tooth decay, and if they contain more potassium and calcium than is lost through sweat, they can put pressure on skeletal and cardiac muscles during exertion and cause pulse irregularities. In addition, these sugar-containing fluids can cause problems due to the displacement of blood for the digestion of sugar during strenuous exercise, insufficient blood flow to other organs, and consequent cramping and increased temperature (Naclerio, 2014). With the use of glutamine in endurance sports, there was a decrease in the incidence of disease reported after exercise (Castell, 1996).