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Supplements that may Benefit Athletic Performance: Caffeine, Creatine & Protein

There are many supplements on the market that claim to enhance performance, help build mass, and aid in recovery. Three supplements that have stood the test of time and have substantial evidence behind them are caffeine, creatine and protein powder.

Caffeine

Caffeine has been shown to have performance-enhancing effects, also known as ergogenic effects. There have been a few mechanisms of action to explain the ergogenic effects of caffeine however the primary mechanism is the action of caffeine on the central nervous system. Caffeine alters the rate of perceived exertion, muscle pain and possibly the ability of skeletal muscle to generate force. In addition, caffeine positively affects mood, vigilance, focus and alertness. There seems to be evidence for both mental and physical benefits of caffeine on performance.

Caffeine has been predominantly studied in endurance sports and has been shown to benefit performance in cycling, running, swimming and cross-country skiing. However, there has also been some data showing the benefits of caffeine in muscular strength, endurance, and power.

A general recommendation for dosage is 3-6 mg per kg of body weight, 30-90 minutes before exercise. Caffeine can be naturally found in coffee, tea, and cocoa. More commonly, caffeine is added to energy drinks and pre-workout supplements.

A few cleaner pre-workouts I trust are from Legion and Outwork Nutrition.

Creatine

Creatine monohydrate has been shown to be a very effective and safe ergogenic supplement that aids in higher-intensity exercise capacity in addition to increases in lean body mass.

A third of intramuscular creatine is free creatine, with the other two-thirds being phosphocreatine. With the increase of available free creatine and phosphocreatine in the muscle, there is a positive response to acute exercise capacity, therefore athletes can essentially do more work in their sessions. Consequently, with more work performed, there comes an increase in strength, muscle mass and performance. Creatine has also been shown to aid in recovery.

Creatine is naturally found in red meat and seafood. Creatine can also be synthesized in the liver and kidneys from the amino acids arginine and glycine. Typically, the body needs to replenish about 1-3 grams of creatine per day to maintain normal creatine stores.

A general recommendation for supplementing with creatine is 3-5 grams per day of creatine monohydrate.

A few products that incorporate creatine in their post workout supplement that I trust are Legions Recharge and Genuine Health’s BCAA + Creatine.

Protein Powders

While we should aim to get most of our protein from food, protein supplementation can be helpful when we are on the run, have a higher protein target or just want to enjoy a protein shake.

It is well known that protein is essential for muscle hypertrophy. Studies show that consuming 1.6-3 grams per kg of bodyweight per day is optimal for muscle protein synthesis. Protein, rather the amino acids that make up protein, are the building blocks for new muscle. There are essential, non essential, and conditional amino acids. When consuming protein, we want to ensure we are getting all essential amino acids, either in one source or complementary sources. Animal products and dairy are great sources of all essential amino acids.

Whey protein has been widely studied and shown to be very effective at muscle protein synthesis in resistance trained individuals. Whey is a complete protein, meaning it has all essential amino acids. Furthermore, the amino acid ratio, leucine content, digestibility and bioavailability of whey is superior to other protein supplements on the market.

A general recommendation is to have 0.25-0.4 grams of protein per kg of body weight per meal. Typically, this will be around 20-40 grams depending on your bodyweight.

A few trusted protein powder brands are Allo, Diesel, and Legion.

Athletes Kitchen is proud to collaborate with Allo Nutrition. Maya and her team have developed a clump-free, sugar-free, gluten-free protein powder that’s made for hot and cold beverages. By adding in the portion packs, you can simply take it with you anywhere you go! What we really love is the variety of flavours that Allo offers, and the simplicity of the ingredients. If you love baking and want to increase the protein content of your baked goods you can simply add Allo protein flavours of your choice. Allo has recently introduced the Allo tubs. They are great for keeping at home or at the office where you wouldn’t need the travel packets. Give Allo a try and use this code to get AK15 for being a AK member. We at Athletes Kitchen are all about community building, and are honored to only work with the best in the game.

A few references:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1186/s12970-020-00383-4

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1186/s12970-017-0173-z

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25757896/ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29414855/