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Sports Supplements

Dietary and sports supplements are under the purview of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but are regulated differently than conventional foods and drugs. Manufacturers are not required to prove a supplement is safe before it is sold, or even that it works. The FDA can take action to remove or restrict the sale of a supplement only after it has been on the market and been shown to be unsafe.

Several sports supplements have been the subject of well-controlled research studies and have supporting evidence for their use. However, research has also shown many sport supplement claims to be misleading or false.

Below is an overview of the most commonly used supplements for ergogenic performance improvement. 

1. Beta - Alanine 

Acts as a muscle buffer

Claim: Improve high-intensity exercise performance.

Evidence: Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness.

2. Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA):
Leucine, isoleucine and valine

Claim: Delay fatigue; boost the immune system.

Evidence: BCAA can provide fuel for endurance activity, but has not been shown to delay fatigue as a result. Growing research suggests it may play a role in supporting immune function.


3. Caffeine:

Mild central nervous system stimulant

Claim: Helps you burn fat and protect carbohydrate stores; makes you feel energized.

Evidence: Caffeine increases alertness and acts as a central nervous system stimulant. Although caffeine promotes fatty acids release, fat burning does not appear to increase during exercise and carbohydrate stores are not protected. Caffeine is considered a banned substance by the National Collegiate Athletic Association if too high an amount is found in urine. It also helps with mental sharpness and decreases perceived


4. Carnitine:

Found in muscles and used for energy production

Claim: Helps you burn fat.
Evidence: Does not increase fat burning when taken as a supplement.


5. Chromium Picolinate:
A mineral found in foods that
plays a role in glucose utilization

Claim: Weight loss aid; body composition changes.
Evidence: Insufficient support for use in weight
loss and body composition changes. May cause oxidative damage; therefore, not recommended.


6. Creatine:

Found in muscles and used for energy production

Claim: Increases lean body mass, increases strength and improves exercise performance, especially for high-intensity workouts.
Evidence: Positive results have been found for increasing total body mass and lean mass, but some athletes have found to be non-responders. Improves short-term intense exercise performance; aids with recovery; increases strength gains with exercise; and appears to be
safe but not effective in some individuals.


7. Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT):
Fatty acids

Claim: Increases endurance; promotes fat burning in long duration exercise.
Evidence: Does not enhance endurance performance. May increase blood lipid levels;
therefore, not recommended.


8. Pyruvate:

End product of carbohydrate metabolism

Claim: Increases endurance and decreases body fat; promotes weight loss.
Evidence: Does not enhance endurance performance and insufficient evidence for weight or fat loss. Side effects may include adverse gastrointestinal effects, such as gas and nausea.


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