Dietary supplements for fitness and sports performance can be used to increase energy and stamina, build muscle mass or aid in muscle recovery following athletic activity. They are available in many forms, including drinks, bars, tablets and powders.
Protein supplements are one of the primary supplements for fitness. Protein supplements can be sourced from whey, egg albumen, soy, hemp or other substances, each with a slightly different nutrient profile. All contain amino acids, including the branched-chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine, which have an anabolic effect on muscle tissue. These BCAAs also reduce the perception of fatigue in athletes by reducing serotonin production during exercise. The amino acid glutamine is the most abundant amino in muscle tissue, and supplementation can reduce the ‘burn’ of lactic acid build-up during exertion. L-carnitine is shown to help transfer fatty acids to cells for energy production. CoQ10 has a similar effect, especially in athletes over 40 whose naturalCoQ10 production has declined.
A combination of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6 has been shown to increase natural levels of testosterone while improving sleep, which aids muscle recovery. Herbal supplementation can aid long-term energy levels, especially for endurance athletes. Chinese (panax) ginseng has been shown to improve both stress resistance and swimming endurance in animal studies, and both rhodiola and ashwaganda help the body cope with stress.