Many athletes rely on tablets, powder & Co. as food supplements: for better regeneration, also against pain. We say what makes sense!
What are the benefits of dietary supplements?
On the bike, in the studio or while running you have once again spent all your energy – and now you want to do something good for yourself? Comfortable saunas, stretching, gentle massages, running out or simply resting are proven measures to reset the body – but cost time and are not effective enough for many. With dietary supplements, pills and powders, we would therefore like to accelerate and optimize the recovery phase. But is that possible?
The fact is that the preparations offered in many places are often consumed rather thoughtlessly – in the best case they then have no effect, and may even endanger your health.
At the bottom you will find a comparison of the most important dietary supplements!
1.enzymes as food supplements
Eating a lot of pineapples as a dietary supplement: Does the enzyme bromelain contained in pineapples help against sore muscles?
Forget such recommendations! First of all, natural foods contain far too little of this “active ingredient” to have any effect, and enzymes are digested for the most part before they arrive at the scene. Nevertheless, vegetables and fruit are important in sports nutrition, as they contain many vitamins, minerals and secondary plant substances that can have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect. Of course, this also supports regeneration. If enzymes are to be used, then it is best to obtain preparations from a pharmacy (e.g. Wobenzym, editor’s note). “Some studies show that these have an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect on injuries or joint inflammations,” says expert Carlsohn.
However, there is no scientific evidence that isolated enzymes alleviate sore muscles in athletes or help them recover more quickly. But one effect is conceivable, since muscle soreness can also be attributed to minor injuries in muscle fibers and an associated inflammatory reaction. After consultation with a doctor or pharmacist, enzyme therapy for mild pain can be tried out calmly.
2.dietary supplement Whey protein
These whey proteins come from milk or milk products and provide valuable amino acids – that is, protein or muscle building blocks. “Proteins determine the effectiveness of strength training in particular. This stimulates the muscle protein build-up – so the muscle ‘grows’.” For this, the body naturally needs the right amount of training and “raw materials”. That is to say:
“If only the training stimulus is there, but not enough protein, the body cannot build muscle mass”,
says expert Carlsohn. However, this is rarely the case, as the average diet is about twice the daily protein requirement. The timing of protein intake is therefore more important than the quantity. This should take place as soon as possible before or after training. Commercial preparations milk and milk products with their high-quality whey protein are not superior – but of course a convenient alternative. The muscle doesn’t care whether it gets the amino acids from milk, cheese bread or powder. Who trains leisurely approximately 5 times 1 hour per week, does not need to enrich its nutrition at all with proteins, neither with an extra portion quark or schnitzel nor with protein powders.
Regeneration after exercise (see also exercise pulse) is not accelerated by protein. Combinations of carbohydrates and proteins, on the other hand, can support muscular regeneration.
By the way, chocolate milk is just as effective as commercial “recovery” drinks.
3.minerals as food supplements
Magnesium tablets and powders are considered by many to be the food supplement of choice for cramps, which usually occur towards the end, but sometimes also after exercise. Anja Carlsohn is surprised, because: “Muscle cramps caused by sports are more likely to be caused by dehydration and sodium loss, i.e. loss of water and salt through perspiration, as well as overload. Magnesium plays a very subordinate role here”.
In order to recover quickly from an intensive sporting load, one should take in sufficient sodium-containing liquid. Beverages with a sodium concentration of about 400-1000 mg per litre are most suitable. This is about the same as our sweat. Such a drink can easily be made by yourself with a pinch of table salt in 1 litre of tap water – which already tastes a bit unpleasantly salty. Also suitable are stock broth or bouillon. If you only do sport occasionally, you don’t need it! We consume on average more sodium with our daily food than recommended, so that an extra enrichment of drinks and food with salt is unnecessary and not advisable for health reasons.
4.L-Carnitine as a dietary supplement
This substance, which is important for energy metabolism, is regarded as a performance enhancer and fat burner – both effects have not yet been reliably proven. Few data suggest that L-carnitine can reduce muscle pain and possibly the extent of muscle damage. In this context, optimized regeneration of muscle function is conceivable, especially after high-intensity exertion. Few studies could show such an effect during a phase of high stress when 2 g per day of this dietary supplement was taken for 2-3 weeks.
L-carnitine is ingested through food (mainly meat products; lamb and pork), but is also produced by the body itself. The benefit of extra intake as a dietary supplement is therefore questionable.
Many recreational athletes are committed to taking pain-relieving medications such as ASA, ibuprofen, etc.: before the competition to increase stamina, and afterwards to suppress overuse complaints.
Both is basically not a good idea. If I swallow painkillers before or after the competition, I overlay the body’s warning signals. The consequence can be, for example, that I overdo myself during the competition. Pain killers are medications with effects and side effects, which should not be taken without medical necessity (consultation with the doctor!).
6.fit food: alternative to the dietary supplements pill & powder
Especially after extensive endurance sports or HIT training, a carbohydrate intake as soon as possible after exercise is important to regenerate the muscles. After exhaustive training sessions, enzymes are activated which replenish the energy stores in the muscles particularly quickly and effectively.
It is optimal to consume 1.2 g carbohydrates per hour per kilogram body weight in the first 4 hours after exhaustive endurance exertion. For a 70 kg athlete that would be about ½ litres of grape juice per hour. Various carbohydrate sources (e.g. bananas, muesli bars, pasta) may be combined with pleasure. If you want to consume less carbohydrates, you can combine carbohydrates (about 0.8 g/kg body weight per hour) with proteins (about 0.2-0.4 g/kg body weight per hour) in the first four hours of afterload. Sweetened mixed milk drinks (cocoa drink), rice pudding or cheese bread, for example, are suitable here. If no further exhaustive endurance stress is planned within the next 24 hours, the intake of carbohydrates can be approached more calmly. The normal meal after training is sufficient here.