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Call us toll-free† at 1-877-510-510-2 to speak directly with a Registered Dietitian.
Many athletes want to improve how well they play sports. Eating a healthy diet based on Canada’s Food Guide is one of the best ways to help you play sports at your best, but can sports supplements help? Read on to learn about five sports supplements and whether they can help you improve your performance.
Protein powder is one of the most popular sports supplements for athletes and people who want to gain muscle mass. However, getting enough protein can easily be done by eating protein-rich foods. Extra protein from protein powders is rarely needed. Protein powders can be costly and do not have any benefits over a balanced diet.
Protein-rich foods provide vitamins and minerals and other nutrients that are good for your health. Aim for a diet that provides protein-rich foods like milk, yogurt, lean meat, fish, chicken, legumes, soy products, nuts and seeds.
Use about 20 grams of protein powder right after your sports activity. This will help the most to increase your strength and muscle mass.
If you do not use a protein powder, eat about 20 grams of protein after your sport activity. This is about:
Remember, more protein powder is not better. Too many calories whether from protein powders or food may lead to weight gain.
Creatine is naturally made by our kidneys and liver. It is carried throughout the body in the blood and provides energy to your muscles.
Your body makes most of the creatine you need, but it is also found in meat, poultry and fish. Creatine supplements have a much higher dose than what is found in foods.
Creatine has been shown to improve how well a person can play sports that require short bursts of energy. You may benefit from creatine supplements if you do activities like:
If you participate in endurance sports like long-distance running, creatine may not give you a lot of benefit.
Research on creatine supplements have not shown any health risks in healthy adults when taken in recommended amounts. However, the effect of long-term use of creatine supplements is not known.
As with all supplements, getting more than you need is not helpful. The amount of creatine that is shown to help with sport performance is:
Look for a creatine supplement that contains creatine monohydrate. This is the form of creatine that has been studied the most and is the recommended type to use. Creatine monohydrate combined with a carbohydrate (like dextrose or other sugars) is best absorbed by your muscles.
If you are buying a creatine supplement, look for a natural product number (NPN) or drug identification number (DIN). These numbers tell you if the product has been reviewed by Health Canada and is safe to use.
Creatine supplements are not recommended for anyone under 18 years of age as well as pregnant or breastfeeding women. Speak to a health professional before taking creatine supplements. Always read and follow the instructions on the package when taking creatine.
Caffeine is a natural ingredient that acts as a stimulant (increases alertness). Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, some pops, some energy drinks and sports bars.
Maybe. Caffeine helps you feel alert and may help you to play sports more intensely.
Yes. For some people, caffeine has side effects that can impact how well you can perform a sport. For people who are very sensitive to caffeine, too much caffeine can cause:
Caffeine can be found in energy drinks in very high amounts. Be careful that you don’t get too much caffeine when drinking these products.
If you choose to use products with caffeine, stay within Health Canada’s recommended limits:
Sports bars can be a good choice if you need some energy before you play a sport. They can also help you repair your muscles after playing a sport.
However, it is not necessary to use sports bars. You can get the energy you need from food before you play a sport.
Read the ingredients
Glucosamine sulfate is a substance found in the fluid around your joints. Supplements containing glucosamine sulfate may come from natural sources such as shellfish or they can be made in a laboratory.
Some athletes take glucosamine supplements in the hopes of preventing or reversing joint damage caused by intense sports or very long sports sessions. Unfortunately research does not show that using glucosamine will prevent or reverse “wear and tear” on the joints.
Glucosamine sulfate is likely safe when you take it as directed. Read labels carefully if you have a shellfish allergy. Some glucosamine brands may contain shellfish ingredients.
Speak to your health professional before starting a glucosamine supplement so that he or she can help you decide what is right for you.
Eating a healthy diet based on Canada’s Food Guide is one of the best ways to help you play sports at your best. If you choose to use a sports supplement like protein powder, creatine, caffeine, sports bars or glucosamine, speak to a health professional or call an EatRight Ontario Registered Dietitian at 1-877-510-510-2 or send an email for more information.
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