Sportspeople are large consumers of supplements and, therefore, have become one of the most important target public for the multi-million dollar industry that produces them. It is understandable that the statements on performance improvement are attractive to sportspeople, especially for elite athletes, where small details make the difference between winners and the other participants.
Although there is not a great deal of scientific evidence, many experts lead research into nutrition applied to sports to help develop new products and research the specific ways in which these can be used to optimise sporting performance. In spite of this, the majority of products have not been tested or have not met expectations in the preliminary studies carried out. In the majority of countries, legislation on supplements or foods for sportspeople is minimal or is not complied with, which allows unchecked attributes to be promoted and for products to be manufactured that do not meet the composition standards.
Before taking the decision to use a supplement, sportspeople and trainers should consider the benefits in comparison with the costs of a supplementation program, as well as the risk of negative results, such as adverse effects or positive doping controls. Therefore, advice should be sought from specialists in sports nutrition.
In the majority of countries, legislation on supplements is minimal or is not complied with
Products that help to improve sporting performance are called nutritional ergogenic aids. We can say that they improve performance when they allow the athlete to reach their nutritional goals. In the case of running, some are specifically designed to help the athlete cover their energy and nutritional requirements.
The initial recommendation to the sportsperson is to consume a diet that is adequate and balanced in quantity and quality to optimise adaptation to training sessions. The regularity of the intake of food is very important and that it fits in with training or competition schedules.
[Article written by doctor Alberto Aliaga, specialist in Endocrinology and Human Nutrition at the obesity and metabolic syndrome unit at the Hospital Quirónsalud Sagrado Corazón de Sevilla]