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Jack Medina Logo           Sports Performance
     Enhancers - What Works
by Jack A. Medina, M.A. and
Roy E. Vartabedian, Dr.P.H.
In This Issue
Ergogenic Aids That Perform As Claimed
The Research
Research/Survey Results
Meaning of the Study Results
Fueling the Body for Peak Performance
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   March 9, 2009
Jack Medina The increased availability and overwhelming number of sports supplements presents an ongoing challenge for practitioners (dietitians, nutritionists, coaches-trainers) and the athlete needs to keep up-to-date about the validity of claims and scientific evidence.

However, the fact remains that very few improve performance.
Unfortunately, as long as a supplement label indicates the active ingredients and the entire ingredients list is provided, claims for enhanced performance can be made, valid or not. The manufacturers aren't even required to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of their products! This is, in my opinion, a complete lack of professional ethics and integrity.

Ultimately, athletes are responsible for the products they ingest and any subsequent consequences. Dietary supplements or ergogenic aids will never substitute for genetic makeup, years of training and optimum nutrition.

From a practical standpoint, most ergogenic aids can be classified into one of four categories:
  1. those that perform as claimed
  2. those that may perform as claimed but for which there is insufficient evidence of efficacy at this time
  3. those that do not perform as claimed
  4. those that are dangerous, banned, or illegal and, therefore, should not be used.
Ergogenic Aids That Perform As Claimed
Training Ergogenic Aids Creatine
Currently the most widely used ergogenic aid among athletes wanting to build muscle and enhance recovery. Creatine has been shown to be effective in repeated short bursts of high-intensity activity in sports that derive energy primarily from the ATP-PC energy system such as sprinting and weight lifting, but not for endurance sports such as distance running. Most of the research on creatine has been conducted in a laboratory setting with male athletes. This is a key factor because the researchers know if the creatine is pure, not tainted with a illlegal substance.

The most common adverse effects of creatine supplementation are weight (fluid) gain, cramping, nausea, and diarrhea. The long term effects of creatine use remain unknown but athletes should carefully be monitored for any risk of liver or kidney dysfunction or, in rare instances, anterior compartment syndrome.

Is still a restricted substance by the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), and can lead to a positive doping test. Using high energy drinks containing caffeine can be ergolytic and potentially dangerous when used in excess or in combination with other stimulants, etc. Adverse effects of caffeine are anxiety, jitteriness, rapid heartbeat, gastrointestinal distress, and insomnia. There is little evidence to support the use of caffeine as a weight loss aid.

Sports Drinks, Gels, and Bars
Are commonly used as convenient dietary supplements or ergogenic aids for busy athletes and active people. However, this is a mixed bag (depending on the ingredients), and knowing how to evaluate the "product" content is very important.

Sodium Bicarbonate
May be an effective ergogenic aid as a blood buffer (role in acid-base balance and prevention of fatigue), but its use is not without unpleasant adverse effects such as diarrhea.

Protein and Amino Acid Supplements
Current evidence indicates that protein and amino acid supplements are no more or no less effective than food when energy is adequate for gaining lean body mass. They are a potential source of illegal substances such as nandrolone, which may not be listed on the ingredient label.
Ergogenic Aids That May Perform As Claimed But with Issufficient Evidence
  • Glutamine
  • B-hydroxoxyme-thylbutyrate
  • Colostrum
  • Ribose
Ergogenic Aids that Do Not
Perform As Claimed
  • Amino acids
  • Bee pollen
  • Branched chain amino acids
  • Carnitine
  • Chromium picolinate
  • Cordyceps
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Conjugated linoleic acid
  • Cytochrome C
  • Dihydroxyacetone
  • Y-ormyzanol
  • Ginseng
  • Inosine
  • Medium chain triglycerides
  • Pyruvate
  • Oxygenated water
  • Vanadium
To date none of these products have been shown to enhance performance and may have adverse effects.
Ergogenic Aids That Are
Dangerous, Banned or Illegal
  • Androstenedione
  • Dhydroepiandrosterone
  • 19-norandrostendione
  • 19-norandrostenediol
  • Other anabolic, androgenic steroids
  • Tribulus terrestri
  • Ephedra
  • Strychnine
  • Human growth hormone
It's unfortunate and disgusting that many sports supplement manufacturers are taking advantage of young people and adults alike.

Reference: Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Vol. 41:3, Mar., 2009. The Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.
Top Tips for Training
and Peak Performance
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See you next month for another edition!
Best wishes for fitness and health,
Jack A. Medina, M.A.
Designs for Fitness
1-866-204-8786 Toll-free Order Line
9-5 M-F (PST - Oregon)

Roy E. Vartabedian, Dr.P.H.
Designs for Wellness
1-888-796-5229 Toll-free Order Line
9-5 M-F (PST - California)

Author/speaker and an expert in Sports Performance Enhancement”. Jack Medina is available for speaking engagements, consultation and personal training of athletes in various sports, professional and amateur. Jack has written a new book, “The Winning Edge: Fueling & Training The Body For Peak Performance” with Dr. Roy Vartabedian, an internationally known New York Times Best Selling Author of the “Nutripoints” program for optimal nutrition. Both books are available online at Jack also has a monthly ezine (newsletter) available free which can be subscribed to on his website. All subscriber’s addresses will be confidential and not sold or given to any other organization or group.

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