Back to School at FamilyEducation.com
Home > Teens > Teen Health and Safety > Sports > The Truth Behind Ergogenic Aids
|

The Truth Behind Ergogenic Aids

People make outrageous claims regarding substances that can help enhance performance. The word ergogenic literally means “work producing,” and, unfortunately, there are always cockamamie advertisements selling nutritional pills and potions claiming to beef up performance. To date, there are only a few scientifically sound ergogenic aids, including a proper diet, carbo-loading, a well-trained body, a determined soul, and the right equipment.

Here's what you need to know about a few ergogenic aids in food and supplement form with scientific backup.

Thumbs Up

To date, the following substances have been shown to improve athletic performance. Of course, this doesn't mean you should start popping pills. In fact, scientists are constantly coming up with new information (good and bad), so stay on top of the current research if you decide to go with one of these supplements. Naturally, always check with your physician before embarking on anything new:

  • Antioxidants (C, E, beta-carotene, and selenium)
    Claim: Protects against the tissue damage from free radical formation induced by exercise.
    Fact: Might protect against tissue damage following prolonged endurance exercise, but doesn't improve performance while you are actually exercising. Although the quantities of antioxidants found in food are somewhat small, they do help to stop the production and spread of harmful substances.
  • Caffeine
    Claim: Improves endurance and overall athletic performance.
    Fact: Consuming as little as one hundred milligrams of caffeine an hour before a workout—the average amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee—has been shown to improve athletic performance of dedicated exercisers (casual exercisers may not experience the same boost). Researchers aren't sure why, but it may be because caffeine signals your muscles to ignore fatigue and contract differently.
    • Side effects of high caffeine consumption include nausea, muscle tremors, palpitations, and headaches. Not a good idea if you have a sensitive system.

  • Creatine
    Claim: Increases the creatine phosphate content in muscles, improves high-power performance, and increases muscle mass.
    Fact: Research has suggested that consuming 20 grams of creatine per day (5 grams, four times daily) for five days might improve performance in brief, maximal exercise lasting less than 30 seconds. After this loading dose, a maintenance dose of 5 grams per day should suffice. However, not all studies have found that creatine improves strength, sprint performance, or lean muscle mass—so it might not improve all high-power activities.

The appeal of magic pills promising bigger muscles and faster speeds is tremendous. However, it's important to know that very few supplements have credible research to back them up—in fact, most of the sport enhancers offer nothing but misleading labels. Without a doubt, the best investment for top performance is the old-fashioned mix—good eats and plenty of hard training.

|

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Total Nutrition © 2005 by Joy Bauer. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

get ready for school!

We’ve got your
shopping list,
lunch menu,
and more.

GO

highlights

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

14 Back-to-School Fashion Trends for 2014
Send your kids back to school looking sharp! Check out 2014's hottest back-to-school fashion trends, from clothes to shoes and accessories.

Put a Stop to Bedtime Struggles
Steer clear of tears at bedtime with these helpful bedtime tips and this printable bedtime routine checklist for kids.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!