Sports Supplements: The Pros and Cons

Nowadays, it seems like every health food store, supermarket, and gym is getting on the sports supplement industry. You can easily find these products, whether you need them to build stamina, bulk up or even lose weight. 

In general, supplements are taken by up to 50% of adult men. Guys take them for a variety of reasons like staying healthy, avoiding health problems, and boosting immunity.

On the other hand, these sports supplements claim to enhance performance, build lean muscle, and help in losing weight. They can truly promise a whole bunch of benefits (whether they have been proven or not) because these products are not really regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Here is a look at some of the popular sports supplements available out there:

  1. Creatine

This is a natural substance that the body converts to create adenosine triphosphate (ATP). In turn, this gives the body energy to contract the muscles. It is popular with athletes who want to enhance their performance and build lean body mass.

Its benefits include better performance in high-intensity but short-duration exercise. Some research also points to it helping increase resting testosterone levels.

However, it has been linked to some side effects like diarrhea, stomach pain, muscle cramps, nausea, and temporary weight gain because the muscles end up retaining water.

  1. Protein Powder

There are quite a few versions of protein powder, though the most popular are soy, whey, and casein. They contribute to the protein intake of adults (they need about 45 to 65 grams daily).

Protein is crucial for certain cellular functions and these products normally have all of the 20 amino acids needed in the formation of protein molecules.

After a short time of ingesting these protein products, they have been shown to improve the body’s burning of fat, feelings of satiety, and even help in weight loss. 

On the other hand, the pros of protein powder products include more frequent bowel movement, reduced appetite, bloating, stomach cramps, headache, and fatigue.

  1. Glutamine

This is an amino acid that the body is also able to naturally produce. It is key in the removal of excess waste in the body and helps in healthy immune system, digestion, and normal brain function.

Athletes benefit because glutamine has been shown to speed up recovery from injury. It also stops the muscles from breaking down and instead, stimulate the growth of new muscle tissue.

Unfortunately, glutamine can be dangerous for some. It may worsen certain health problems like cirrhosis, seizures, or mania. It may also manifest some side effects like hoarseness or cough, urge to poop or straining while passing stool.

  1. Glucosamine

This is another natural substance normally found in the fluid surrounding the joints. They play a huge role in building cartilage. Research has pointed out that it may help in the treatment of osteoarthritis but the evidence is not yet solid. Side effects of this supplement include diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, and nausea.

  1. Prohormone Supplements, aka “Testosterone Boosters”

These supplements are converted by the body into the hormones it needs, like testosterone androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and androstenediol.

They are popular with bodybuilders because they get the same benefits that they get from anabolic steroids, though some of these prohormones are against the law. Moreover, research has not been able to prove any benefits of these supplements.

On the other hand, users might see tons of side effects depending on the prohormone they take but the most common include acne, enlarged breasts, hair loss, and liver damage.

  1. Caffeine

Caffeine is not just a popular drink but it can also be found in many of these sports supplements. It is believed to enhance energy and performance.

It reduces the feeling of being tired and improves performance in running, biking, golfing, and soccer. It does not seem to contribute to performance improvement in short, high-intensity exercise like lifting and sprinting.

Its side effects include insomnia, restlessness, nausea and vomiting, stomach irritation, and increased heart rate. If you are suffering from a sleep disorder, caffeine may make it worse. It can also cause anxiety, chest pain, headache, and ringing in the ears.  

Because these products are unregulated, many of these manufacturers and marketers make bold claims in order to make the sale, whether or not these health benefits are real. Moreover, they do not reveal the possible side effects.

Taking these supplements should only be done after consulting your doctor and only when all of these pros and cons have been considered.

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