Top Supplements for Sprinters

supplement pills

Today it's pretty common to hear athletes talking about what supplements they take.

I think that most athletes either use supplements, have used supplements, or have considered using some kind of supplement. Even non-athletes use supplements to help them reach their fitness goals.

The market is filled with an unbelievable amount of sports supplements...shakes, powders, pills and so on.

All of them claiming to be just what you need to enhance your sports performance and gain that edge over the competition. But what are the best supplements for sprinters, if any?

With all the products that are available, it is becoming increasingly difficult for coaches and athletes to separate the useful supplements for sprinters from the crap ones.

The cause isn't helped when you see sporting stars endorsing certain supplements. This is a sure way to lead to misconceptions about the products. 

If *insert famous sporting name here* uses it, then it must be good right? 

The key for athletes is to first see if you are missing anything from your nutrition and then see which supplements could potentially aid you and your performance (legal supplements of course).

The best form of information is that based on the scientific research, not because everyone else tells you it’s great or because you see sportsperson promoting the product. 

I will try and supply you with information in this article, however I would strongly recommend that you do your own research on any supplements that you're thinking about trying.

NOTE: Always consult a medical professional or sports dietitian before taking any new supplements.  

Article Overview
  • Things you need to consider before investing in supplements
  • Evaluating the supplements you may already be using
  • Valid reasons for using supplements
  • Pros and cons of using certain supplements

Are Sports Supplements Safe

This is not a simple yes or no answer. There are so many different sports supplements available on the market (many of which are unregulated). Also you have your own personal needs, dietary requirements, allergies etc. 

There is no legislation on the production of sports supplements which is a big issue. Most products have no strict rules governing what ingredients they can use.

Often you’ll look at the the ingredients of a sports supplement and half the words seem foreign.

It's difficult to determine which products can be classed as safe for you without rigorous testing.

Even with testing, it can be difficult to determine if taking a certain supplement for a prolonged period of time will produce adverse side effects in the long run.

In fact, long term side effects, are widely unknown regarding most supplements.

Key Considerations to Evaluate When Deciding Which Supplements you Want to Use:

  • How valid is the claim: what are the production companies saying the product can do? Some of the claims may seem ridiculous and yet people buy into them. Be cautious!...A company trying to sell you something may be selective with their information or even glorify it. 
scientific study of supplements for sprinters
  • What evidence is there: Check, check, check the evidence. See what tests have been done and if there is any proof to the claims.
  • Is the product safe and legal:  Some sports have different rules about what substances are banned. You need to be aware of these substances. It's your responsibility to make sure you're not taking anything you shouldn't. 
  • Beware of contamination:  be careful where you buy your products from. You may look for a cheap deal but end up buying from somewhere that has low production standards. 

Why Take Sports Supplements

It's believed that sports supplements can be used to enhance performance, physique and  well-being.

There are lots of studies on certain supplements that have shown this to be true with very positive results.

For this reason it is widely accepted and believed that there are supplements that can aid performance and health.

Possible Benefits of Sport Supplements

  • Aid supply of macro and micro nutrients when it's difficult to get all the nutrients you need from food sources (especially for athletes who need to consume a lot). It can be very difficult with food alone.
  • If you are deficient in nutrients that are needed for cell health and function.
  • Supplements can help you meet your nutritional goals and easily consume the correct amounts of macronutrients through both slow and fast digestion.
  • Can allow for easy management of your protein, carb and fat consumption
  • Can be more convenient when you don't have the time to cook or need to travel a lot for training and competition.

Guidelines for Usage

Protein Supplements

protein supplements

What do they do:

  • Provide a concentrated source of protein.
  • Whey protein may help enhance the immune function.
  • Casein protein provides slow digested protein and high levels of amino acids.
  • Soy protein is a good option for vegans and people with high cholesterol.
  • Can be beneficial when a high protein intake is required.

Side effects:

  • Excessive protein has not found to be harmful but neither beneficial to performance or health.

Caffeine

coffee powder

What does it do:

  • Increases alertness and concentration.
  • Reduce perception of fatigue.
  • Allows for exercise to be maintained at a higher intensity for longer periods.

Side effects:

  • High doses can increase heart rate.
  • Impair fine motor control and technique.
  • Cause anxiety and overarousal.
  • Trembling.
  • sleepiness.

Creatine

What does it do:

  • Fuels muscles during high intensity activity.
  • Sustain all out effort longer than usual.
  • Promotes quicker recovery.
  • Promotes protein manufacture and muscle hypertrophy.
  • Increases lean body mass.
  • Reduces muscle acidity.
  • Reduces muscle protein breakdown.
  • Can result in greater strength.

Side effects:

  • Possible weight gain.
  • Possible muscle cramps.
  • Possible kidney damage.

Amino Acids

What do they do:

Side effects:

  • Normally safe as already found in protein in the diet.
  • Excessive intake may reduce the absorption of other amino acids.

Beta-Alanine

What does it do:

  •  Increases muscle carnitine levels.
  • Raises buffering capacity of the muscles, increasing the ability of muscles to tolerate high intensity exercise for longer.

Side effects:

  • Reports of (harmless) skin tingling (associated with high doses).
  • Long term effects - unknown.

Glutamine

What does it do:

  • Needed for cell growth.
  • Claims of protein-sparing effects during training.

Side effects:

  • None recorded.

Energy Gels

What do they do:

  • Provide a concentrated source of calories and carbohydrate.

Side effects:

  • They don't hydrate you, so there is an increased risk of dehydration if you don't drink plenty of water while taking them.
Did you enjoy the article? Why not share it to help someone else?