Useful Supplements and How They Work

We'll tell you how supplements work in the body and the considerations that a professional must take into account before prescribing them to patients.
Useful Supplements and How They Work

Last update: 27 August, 2020

Useful supplements are nutrients or substances that improve sports performance or certain functions of the human body. Many of them haven’t been able to demonstrate a clear benefit in the medium and long term. However, there are certain products capable of increasing athletes’ efficiency.

In any case, for them to work, you need to include them in the framework of a balanced and proper diet. Otherwise, if you have any essential nutrient deficiencies, the supplements won’t be able to achieve their goal.

In this article, we’ll tell you about useful supplements and how they work in the body depending on the type of product. Don’t miss it!

Useful supplements that complete the supply of nutrients

There are products on the market whose direct function isn’t to increase the athlete’s performance but to prevent nutrient deficiencies that can reduce the athlete’s efficiency. One example is zinc supplements. This substance isn’t capable of increasing your performance, but it’s a mineral that actively participates in the metabolism of testosterone.

According to a study published in the Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, having low levels of this nutrient conditions hormone production, which can limit muscle gains and strength development.

It’s unusual for people to have low zinc since it’s present in red meat and nuts. However, some individuals who follow a restrictive diet might not be able to meet the minimum requirements through diet alone.

Zinc supplement on a spoon.

Useful supplements that increase performance

On the other hand, there are substances that, in higher doses than dietary ones, contribute to increasing an athlete’s performance. One example is creatine, used repeatedly in amateur and professional sports.

An overload of this nutrient is capable of improving the efficiency of aerobic and anaerobic metabolism, as well as muscle strength, according to research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. It’s a supplement that has no medium and long-term side effects and can also positively affect the athlete’s body composition.

Similarly, nitrates are substances that improve your performance when you take them prior to training or competition. They’re often combined with caffeine to delay the onset of fatigue and to improve performance on repeated efforts.

These are supplements that have been endorsed by scientific experts and whose effects have been demonstrated in randomized, double-blind, and controlled studies with placebos. In 2018, the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition published one of these investigations.

Role of supplements in the body: choose the right one

When choosing a supplement, you need to consider a number of important factors. The first is the need and the suitability of said substance to the activity that you’re doing.

Second, it’s important to ensure that the brand offers the correct level of purity. On many occasions, products have a lower concentration than you expect.

Woman in the kitchen, flexing while holding protein powder with protein rich foods on the counter.

Finally, when it comes to elite athletes, it’s essential to request the certification to confirm that the supplement doesn’t contain doping substances. Otherwise, you could be surprised and suffer a serious blow to your sports career.

We recommend you consult with a nutritionist if you have any doubts at all. They can tell you which supplement to take depending on your condition, objectives, and needs. They’ll also be able to provide you with a safe supplement that has the necessary certifications.

Ergogenic aids can benefit the athlete

You can find many different supplements on the market. As we explained, some of them serve to cover nutrient deficiencies. Others are capable of increasing your performance.

Obviously, you need to know how a supplement works before starting to take it. It’s also important to make sure that the product is high quality, that it’s effective in scientific studies, and that it doesn’t contain doping substances.

Finally, once you’ve chosen the substance you’ll use, following the advice of your nutritionist, you should plan a diet that allows you to achieve your full potential in both training and competition.

It might interest you...
What to Include in Your Diet If You’re a Vegetarian Athlete
Fit People
Read it in Fit People
What to Include in Your Diet If You’re a Vegetarian Athlete

If you're a vegetarian athlete, it's important to pay special attention to your diet. Restricting any food group can compromise an athlete's perfor...

  • Zhang X., Guan T., Yang B., Chi Z., et al., A novel role for zinc transporter 8 in the facilitation of zinc accumulation and regulation of testosterone synthesis in leyding cells of human and mouse testicles. Metabolism, 2018. 88: 40-50.
  • Kreider RB., Kalman DS., Antonio J., Ziegenfuss TN., et al., International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport and medicine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 2017.
  • Domínguez R., Maté Muñoz JL., Cuenca E., García Fernández P., et al., Effects of beetroot juice supplementation on intermittent high intensity exercise efforts. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 2018.