Optimizing performance: The science behind supplements
April 3, 2023 - By Anne-Marie Lacroix
Many athletes and active people are turning to nutritional supplements to improve their performance and recovery. By 2022, the North American supplement market was worth 56 billion US dollars. With so many products on the market, it’s hard to know which supplements are good for you.
Supplements are not regulated like drugs. A product does not have to be tested to prove its effectiveness before being available on the market. It is therefore important to learn about their use, benefits, and risks before taking them.
Some supplements are more popular than others and can be beneficial in certain cases such as vitamin D, protein and whey powders and creatine.
Vitamin D: Pros and cons
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that plays a role in bone health, inflammation, the immune system, and muscle function, among other things. She is synthesized in the skin following exposure to UVB rays. Although some foods contain a form of vitamin D (eggs, fish and mushrooms exposed to sunlight), 32% of the Canadian population did not meet their vitamin D needs in 2011, states Statistics Canada. This percentage increases to 40% in winter since UVB rays do not reach the earth in Canada at that time of the year.
Most people with vitamin D deficiency do not experience any symptoms. However, even mild long-term deficiency can increase the risk of osteoporosis and fractures, especially in the elderly. In the case of severe vitamin D deficiency, supplementation can therefore improve bone density. According to Statistics Canada data, Canadians who took a supplement had adequate levels of vitamin D compared to those who did not.
Negative side effects are rare, but excessive vitamin D supplementation can be toxic and lead to nausea, vomiting and kidney damage. Therefore, it is important to work with a health care professional or nutritionist to determine the proper dosage.
Protein Powder: Finding a Balance
Protein is an important nutrient for muscle repair and growth, making protein powder a popular supplement choice for athletes. It can help some people meet their protein needs for example, people with reduced appetite, older people at risk of muscle atrophy, vegetarians, etc. However, it is important to remember that protein powders do not replace whole foods and that obtaining protein from a variety of food sources is the best approach for optimal health.
When choosing a protein powder, it is important to look for a high-quality product that is free of contaminants or harmful additives and meets your nutritional needs. To ensure good quality, you can choose a protein isolate. This means that the protein has been filtered and processed and is therefore better digested. You can also verify that the supplement has been tested by an external organization by looking for an “Informed Sport” logo. Avoid products with claims such as “100% natural” or “100% safe”, as no supplement is risk-free even when tested.
Creatine: fast energy
This amino acid (creatine) is a natural compound found in the body that helps muscles produce energy during brief, high-intensity exercise. Creatine supplementation can increase the reserve in the muscles and thus help increase muscle strength. However, all other factors of optimal health such as sleep, nutrition, stress management and physical activity should not be neglected to achieve the potential benefits of creatine. People with low creatine levels such as non-meat eaters have a greater potential to respond positively to supplementation.
Creatine in monohydrate form is safe and effective. There are two options for supplementation dosage. The first is in the form of a cycle: we consume four 5g doses each day for five days and then continue with one 5g dose per day. This allows us to increase our reserve more quickly, but it is very important to be diligent. The second option is to consume one 5g dose continuously every day. This way can be easier to integrate in our daily life. There are no serious side effects associated with creatine supplementation. However, there may be rapid weight gain at the beginning of supplementation due to water retention. Supplementation can also cause gastrointestinal discomfort in some cases.
Note that Nautilus Plus has a few varieties of the three quality supplements described above. Here are a few you might want to try:
- Vitamin D3 Spray
- Vitamin D3 + K2 Capsules
- Myoprime (creatine)
- Pasture-fed Cattle Whey (protein powder)
For any supplement, it is important to work with a sports nutritionist or health care professional to determine the proper dosage and monitor for potential side effects. It is also important to choose a high-quality product from a reputable manufacturer and follow the recommended usage guidelines.
- Asif, A., & Farooq, N. (2022). Vitamin D Toxicity. Dans StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing.
- Niveaux de vitamine D dans le sang des Canadiens. (s. d.). Statistique Canada. Consulté 16 mars 2023
- North America Dietary Supplements Market Report and Forecast 2023-2028. (s. d.). Consulté 23 mars 2023
- Schwalfenberg, G. K., Genuis, S. J., & Hiltz, M. N. (2010). Addressing vitamin D deficiency in Canada : A public health innovation whose time has come. Public Health, 124(6), 350‑359.
- Sizar, O., Khare, S., Goyal, A., & Givler, A. (2023). Vitamin D Deficiency. Dans StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing.
Optimizing performance: The science behind supplements is a post from Nautilus Plus. The Nautilus Plus blog aims to help people in their journey to fitness through articles on training, nutrition, motivation, exercise and healthy recipes.
Copyright © Nautilus Plus 2023
A session with a nutritionist will help you on your way!
Let's establish your nutritional goals together and get some expert advice!Make an appointment