A Basic Guide for your Sports Supplements


Sports supplements are a category of nutrition that are just the addons to your normal diet  whose main purpose is to improve the general health and to enhance the sports performance.  

Sports supplements include vitamins tablets, Capsule, energy drinks, protein powder or protein bar. 

Sports Supplements claim to give you increased muscle mass, fat loss, increase endurance, speed up recovery , aids muscle soreness and also to fulfill mineral and vitamin deficiency.   

Nowadays every athlete and bodybuilder  use sports supplements to improve their physical performance.

And by following them many teens and gym goers use the supplements and other performance products same as their favourite athlete and body builders use. 

But in the case of sports supplements recommendation is not the same for everyone, because what works for others may not work for you so taking those supplements just by following others will not work.

Nowadays there is a choice of pills, tablets, powders, bars or potions to enhance the performance.

You cannot just use anything because they promise to build muscle, lose fat or speed up recovery.  There is a certain ingredient difference in every supplement and for choosing them wisely you need professional advice  to get better results.

A Basic Guide for your Sports Supplements

Now Sports supplements are sold in supermarkets, health stores, on the internet and gym so you must be aware of the supplements quality. 

Manufacturers claim by using their supplements you will get  the best result. But the reality is harsh because you cannot differentiate between good and bad quality supplements easily.  

Many supplements are advertised by some good celebrities that make the manufacturer’s claim  look more convincing. 

Supplements are sold in the market at huge discounts. All these marketing tactics make it more difficult to know the truth of the product and will it really work or not. 

So keeping all these in mind, now the question is how to identify if the supplements are safe, effective, legal and are not contaminated with dangerous substances??

Unfortunately this is not easy to check the quality of the supplements.  There is no strict systematic regulation on sports and dietary supplements so there is no way to know what are the exact ingredients present in the supplements. 

So the manufacturers are free to claim that the product will enhance the performance based on the ingredients mentioned in the label but there is no guarantee whether the supplement will work or not.  So it is up to you which supplement to choose for you.

Do You really need sports supplements

A Basic Guide for your Sports Supplements

Many sports athletes believe that using supplements is the only way to enhance physical performance. In one of the canadian studies it is found that 95 percent of young athletes use supplements regularly or intermittently. 

The most popular variety of supplements used are multivitamins, carbohydrates supplements, energy drinks, protein powders, creatine and glutamine. 

Supplements will not work with incomplete natural foods  nutrition and poor diet but the supplements that provide the essential nutrition may be used for short term when there is certain food intake restriction due to some factors .  For example when you are travelling there may be difficulty in food availability. 

Out of many different varieties of sports supplements available only few of them work best when they are taken under professional guidance. Supplements are just the addons to your food nutrition which work best when you are taking the right and adequate proportion of nutrition.  

But the use of supplements in young athletes should be discouraged rather they should focus on a nutrition rich diet to maintain body growth and healthy body composition.

Now the question comes: do they really maximize performance??

With the vast variety of supplements available in the market today and the way they are advertised, it is very tempting to think using supplements is the only way of success. But this is not true. 

When it comes to maintaining better health and increasing physical performance, a proper nutrition rich diet, proper training and adequate amount of rest for recovery are the most necessary things you need. 

Before you think of using any supplementation make sure you are having a good diet, training and sleep .  As mentioned earlier without proper nutrition your supplements are just useless. 

Diet, training and sleep are the base and you have to make your base strong in order to reach the pyramids and the supplements will be a fuel in your way. So once you have the first three things firmly placed you can consider the use of supplementation. 

It is always advised to consult with the certified dietitian or nutritionist when you are thinking of using supplements. 

They will suggest the necessary things needed for physical improvements. Do not  rely on information provided by supplement manufacturers or the advice that are given by unqualified individuals. 

A Basic Guide for your Sports Supplements

Risk and Benefits of taking Supplements

There is no need for approval from FDA for supplement marketing so there is no guarantee of product quality and the claims that are made by supplement manufacturers. 

Although there are certain regulations set by the food and supplement regulation department but these regulations are not well policed that they can guarantee you the quality so chances are very low to get the results that are claimed.

Though the rules are not well maintained but all the supplements company has to follow certain regulations that are set by FDA food regulatory so the supplements can be marketed properly.

The main problem of health risk associated with the supplement is discovered when the supplement is already released in the market place  and that causes serious health issues or causes death.  

When this situation comes the only thing food regulation can do is to stop the supplement production and its supply to the market place but the risk can still exist if the previously marketed supplements  are still available at market. This process is very lengthy and can affect many individuals.  

When choosing supplements for you try to choose wisely because quality control and production standards vary from company to company. 

Some companies maintain high quality control and production procedures but some companies don’t so the risk of supplements contamination is always there. Contamination is referred to the use of banned substances, steroids and other illegal drugs. 

Finally, you will be shocked to know that the use of words like “herbal” and “Natural” on the supplements can be just a marketing strategy and does not necessarily mean it is safe.

Different Studies and Surveys found that the sports supplements are frequently contaminated with banned substances . According to a HFL sports science  survey in 2013 , 10 percent of 120 supplements and weight loss products available in Europe were contaminated with banned substances at a certain level that could have resulted in positive findings for athletes. 

Some of the contaminated supplements claim that they have gone under certain lab tests to assure their quality and they are  doping free. So you can now understand how easy it is to become a victim of contaminated supplements and develop critical health issues.

How to be Sure supplement is Doping Free

You can never be 100 percent sure about the contamination risk or if any supplement is 100 percent doping free from illegal substances.  There is no way to detect its contamination without a proper lab test because in some cases the label on the supplement package does not specify every single substance that is used in the particular supplement production. 

Moreover, there are limitations in analytical testing techniques for sports supplements which have a finite limit of detection below which the testing of supplements will not be effective. That means the presence of prohibited substance in a supplement below the detectable level will cause the failure in lab testing. 

Sometimes the sample testing is done but there may be a possibility that the supplement sample is pure but the main product is contaminated so in that case also it is very much difficult to be sure about the product quality. Hence you can only know the product is contaminated when there will be health issues. 

So it is your responsibility what supplement you will choose for yourself  because the risk of using contaminated supplements will never be eliminated  but you can always try to minimize the risk of using contaminated products.

A Basic Guide for your Sports Supplements
  1. Choose supplement purchasing from a reputable company who take utmost care of quality control. You can always contact the supplement company to investigate what steps they take to avoid contamination.
  1. Always check the particular company’s website to verify every detail of the product because many sports supplements are faked nowadays or have false labelling on the package.
  1. Prefer buying pharmaceutical-grade products because this may reduce the risk but cannot eliminate the contamination totally.
  1. Buy only the products that list all the ingredients that are used in their level.
  1. Avoid proprietary blends because you don’t know exactly what is present in them.
  1. Don’t buy products from the manufacturer who also makes illegal products.

A – Z  Supplement Guide


AntiOxidant are the substances that reduce the free radicals in our body that are produced by cells due to some reaction with foods we eat and some of the environmental factors. 

We need to remove free radicals from our body from time to time otherwise it will produce oxidative stress which is harmful for our body because it can cause Coronary diseases, stroke, Respiratory problem, weak immunity and also affect growth.

You can either use artificial antioxidant supplements or certain natural foods that are rich in AntiOxidant. 

Benefits of AntiOxidant 

  1. Improve Heart Health
  2. Strengthen your immune system
  3. Muscle growth and Fat loss
  4. Improve Brain Function
  5. Blood sugar stability

Natural Source of Antioxidant

  1. Citrus Fruits
  2. Sea Foods
  3. Diary Products
  4. Onion, Garlic, Beet Juice, Onion

Artificial Source Of AntiOxidant

  1. Vitamin C tablets
  2. Vitamin K tablets
  3. Vitamin E tablets
  4. Manganese 

Prefer buying AntiOxidant Supplements from Chemist Store.

Arginine –

Arginine is the amino acid that our body needs to function properly. It is the non-essential amino acid that means our body can produce Arginine naturally but it is always recommended to take it additionally from outside to fulfil the body’s requirement.

 L-arginine releases Nitric Oxide in the blood vessels which helps in widening the veins  which helps in blood circulation and also helps to repair, rebuild muscle tissue. 

Benefits Of Arginine

  1. Help in Growth hormone Secretion
  2. Control Blood Pressure
  3. Muscle Growth
  4. Reduce Inflammation
  5. Treat erectile Dysfunction
  6. Diabetes and Cholesterol Control.

Natural Source of Arginine

  1. Red Meat
  2. Eggs
  3. Diary Products
  4. Wall nuts, Almonds, Peanuts
  5. Sunflower seeds
  6. Brown Rice
  7. Oats

Artificial Source of Arginine

  1. Citrulline Malate
  2. L- Arginine

Both the Supplements are available at chemist.

Beet Juice – 

A Basic Guide for your Sports Supplements

Beetroot juice is especially rich in antioxidants classified as betalains, catechin and Alpha-tocopherol. It works specifically against free radicals by chemically counteracting the damage oxidation of important molecules. 

Not getting the proper amount of Antioxidant while you are involved in an intense workout can create the imbalance between free radicals and Antioxidant . 

This will cause your body to expose to serious health issues because there is not enough antioxidant available to detoxify the free radicals. Beetroot juice is rich in antioxidants that work against the reactive oxygen species by chemically counteracting the damaging oxidation of important cells.

Benefits of Beetroot Juice

  1. Rich in Nutrients like Vitamin B-6 , Calcium, iron Zinc Copper
  2. It also Help in preventing Anemia
  3. Increase the concentration of Nitric Oxide which helps in Blood vessels dilation and blood flow
  4. Reduce Inflammation 
  5. Increase the Physical  Performance.

Beta – Alanine – 

Beta – Alanine is the non-essential amino acid that means our body can produce it naturally but getting it additionally from outside is necessary to fulfill the body’s requirement. 

 Beta- Alanine is responsible for producing Carnosine in our body.  It helps in enhancing athletic performance by increasing muscle endurance. 

Supplement companies claim it increases strength but in many studies it is found that instead of increasing strength,it increases the time period of doing intense workout to some extent.

Benefits of Beta – Alanine

  1. Anti aging Property
  2. Increase muscle endurance.
  3. Reduce fatigue level
  4. Can benefits in short duration workout
  5. Increases time taken to Exhaust

Natural Source of Beta – Alanine

  1. Red Meat
  2. Fish
  3. Chicken


BCAAs is the branch chain amino acid which is essential for the body’s growth and function. BCAA’s consists of three amino acid Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. Leucine is the main ingredient in BCAAs. 

The ratio of Leucine to Isoleucine and Valine is 2:1. Body can’t produce them naturally so you must take them through diet. You can also consider using BCAAs supplementation  because it is the easy way to fulfil the body’s requirement. 

A Basic Guide for your Sports Supplements

Leucine mostly stimulate   synthesis of myofibrillar muscle protein 

Isoleucine is used for boosting up energy and helps in recovery process

Valine is used for recovery and repair of muscle tissue, boost energy and endurance.

Benefits of BCAAs

  1. Decrease muscle soreness
  2. Promote protein Synthesis
  3. Improve Immune system
  4. Decrease fatigue level
  5. Enhance performance level

Natural Food Source

  1. Beef 
  2. Chicken
  3. Pork
  4. Eggs
  5. Beans  & Seeds
  6. Dairy Product
  7. Fish

BCAAs  supplements are available in Pharmaceutical stores prefer buying the product from there.

Caffeine – 

Caffeine is the most common stimulant drug used by millions of people around the world to wake up in the morning or to get through tiredness from work.

Caffeine is most commonly found in tea, Coffee and Cocoa Plant. 

Caffeine stimulates the brain and activates our Central Nervous System  and keeps us active and prevents us from getting Tired. 

A Basic Guide for your Sports Supplements

When we drink Coffee or Tea, the caffeine is broken down in the liver and it is released into our bloodstream  where it blocks the adenosine receptors in the brain and keeps us active.  Adenosine is the neurotransmitter which helps in relaxing the brain when the brain is active for several hours. 

Adinosim builds up in our brain throughout the day when we are awake and active and its level decreases when we sleep, this process keeps repeating all day. When we consume caffeine, the level of  adrenaline, dopamine and norepinephrine increases.

Benefits of Caffeine 

  1. Increases fat burning capacity of body
  2. Boost Metabolism
  3. Enhance sports performance
  4. Increases focus and Concentration
  5. Helps in proper blood flow

Colostrum – 

Colostrum is the nutritious fluid released by every mammal who has recently given birth. Colostrum is produced just before the release of breast milk. Humans also release colostrum but the colostrum supplement is made from cow’s colostrum which is known as Bovine Supplement. 

Although colostrum is mainly important for new born babies, everyone can supplement from colostrum in any phase of life. It has a special type of protein which helps in muscle growth, immunity development, growth hormone secretion and also fights infection.  

Bovine Supplement is similar to human colostrum as it is rich in vitamins,minerals, special type of protein, carbohydrates, fats. 

Creatine – 

Creatine is the oldest and most wanted supplement in the fitness industry. Creatine is very famous among the athletes and  bodybuilders because of its enhancing strength, stamina and endurance properties. 

Creatine is non-essential amino acid that means our body can produce it naturally but when we take it additional it increases the creatine store in our body. 

Creatine store in our body depends upon the animal protein we consume and many other factors such as muscle mass, quality of workout,  and production of growth hormone. 

Creatine is stored in our body in the form of Phosphocreatine which help in ATP synthesis which is the power house of our body.  You can supplement from creatine if you are involved in an intense workout.

Benefits of Creatine 

  1. Enhance muscle mass
  2. Increase weight
  3. Increase strength and endurance
  4. Decrease fatigue level
  5. Increase brain function
  6. Decrease myostatin level
  7. Helps in cell hydration
A Basic Guide for your Sports Supplements


DHEA or Dehydroepiandrosterone is formed naturally in our body. DHEA is produced from cholesterol present in the outer layer of adrenal gland and little amount is produced in ovary and testes.

 DHEA is  converted into major hormones testosterone and estrogen in male and females. It is produced in huge amounts in our body from age 10 to 30 and then there will  be a significant drop as we grow older. So it will be helpful if we take DHEA supplementation.

Benefits of DHEA

  1. Improve strength and muscle mass
  2. Increase bone density
  3. Develop Immunity
  4. Fat burning ability

Natural Foods for DHEA

Since our body uses cholesterol to produce DHEA so we must consume good cholesterol content food such as egg yolk, butter, coconut milk are good sources.

 Ephedrine –

Ephedrine is also known as Ma-Huang. It was banned by fda in 2003. It was specially used for fat burning purposes but it has less benefits and long term health effects. 

It has side-effects of insomnia, high blood pressure, glaucoma, and stroke.

Fat Burner –

Fat burners are the dietary supplements that are claimed to burn the excess fats in our body but the fat burner is really not needed by our body because our body has its natural capabilities to burn fat effectively if we follow a good thermogenic diet.

Fat burners also contain natural ingredients such as caffeine or green tea extract that helps burning fat. 

In low doses they are good but can harm you when taken in large doses because the manufacturer sometimes doesn’t mention the exact amount and all the ingredients used in the fat burner and in those cases if you are allergic to certain used ingredients it can be very harmful to you.

 Moreover, as mentioned earlier there is no investigation regulation  for dietary supplements so until there are certain medical issues or health problems you will not be sure which one is bad and good. So instead of using fat burners, maintaining a good diet will help you. 

Fish Oil – Omega 3 fatty acids

Omega fatty acids are the essential biochemical that our body needs for normal functioning. Fatty acids are produced by  the breakdown of fats that are present in our body and the fat we get from the food in our diet.

Usually, fatty acids are the long chain of carbon and hydrogen atoms. Fatty acids are very much important for our body for energy and glucose production.

Omega-3 fatty acids are naturally found in fatty fish such as Salmon and tuna..It is also found in coconut oil and any types of Nuts.

A Basic Guide for your Sports Supplements

Omega-3 fatty acids contain two main biochemical compounds Docosahexaenoic Acid which is also known as DHA  and other one is Eicosapentaenoic Acids which is known as EPA.These two are the active ingredient in Omega-3 fatty acids that help in different health conditions.

Omega-3 fatty acid is the essential fatty acid that means our body can’t produce itself so we need to consume Omega-3 through our diet.

Benefits of Omega 3 fatty Acids 

  1. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce cholesterol level and prevent coronary diseases.
  1. It can also reduce the inflammation that causes the heart disease , Stroke and also reduce the chance of gum infection.
  1. Omega-3 fatty acids help in muscle recovery and muscle building due to its anti-inflammatory properties which reduce the free radicals in our body.
  1. Omega-3 fatty acids protect your eyes from conditions such as dry eyes and Glaucoma which is caused due to high pressure and it damages your optic nerve which results in blindness.
  1. It also helps in brain functioning and improves brain health.Omega-3 fatty acids prevent from Alzheimer’s disease which damage the brain cells and prevent it from proper functioning which is the reason for mental problems.

Ginseng –

Ginseng is the oldest form of medicine used in china. There are two popular types of Ginseng American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng). 

Research and studies have found ginseng to be very helpful for our body. Ginseng is rich IN antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is  available in tablet, powder and oil form. Ginseng is a slow growing plant, and they are of three types fresh, white and red.

 Fresh is grown for 3 to 4 years, white is grown for between 4 to 6 years and red one is harvested more than 6 years.

Glutamine – 

Glutamine is the non essential amino acid that means the body can produce its own and this amino acid is found in abundance in our body and bloodstream. This amino acid is popular in sports supplementation because it promotes recovery and growth in muscle tissue. 

There are actually two types of glutamine :- L- Glutamine and D- Glutamine but L- glutamine is essential in performing body function and D-glutamine has no use in living organisms.

Natural Food Source

  1. Egg
  2. Chicken
  3. Tofu
  4. Milk
  5. Rice


HMB is called Hydroxymethylbutyrate is the chemical compound which is produced by our body when the body breaks down Leucine. HMB is usually taken by weightlifters and powerlifters because it enhances the power and stamina. 

It also helps in muscle protein synthesis and prevents muscle breakdown. It helps athletes to use oxygen efficiently during intense workouts and help in building lean body mass.

It also lowers blood pressure and Cholesterol.

Multivitamins –

A multivitamin is a combination of vitamins,minerals that are found in different natural food sources and is served as dietary supplements.

Multi-vitamins have many health benefits when taken with the right dose.You can add multi-vitamins to your daily diet.

Multi-vitamins fulfill your diet completely by providing vital nutrients and minerals.

Multivitamins maintain muscle strength,give relief from stress and anxiety.It improves blood flow and also improves our mood.But many multivitamins won’t work properly.

A Basic Guide for your Sports Supplements

Many multivitamins are poorly absorbed by the body in the supplement form.So it is essential to eat a variety of healthy foods that contain natural sources of vitamin and minerals.

Many multivitamin contain minerals such as calcium,potassium.Any minerals if taken in large doses can cause side effects such as tooth staining, increased urination, stomach bleeding, uneven heart rate, and muscle weakness.

The amounts of each vitamin present in multi-vitamin formulations are generally believed to result in optimal health effects in large population groups.

Probiotics –

Probiotics are a kind of living bacteria or yeast that are good for our body and health especially for our digestive system.We usually think bacteria or yeast are the cause of our illness but all kinds of bacteria or yeast is not bad many of them are good too.

For example Curd is made from the fermentation of the lactose in milk by the bacteria Lactobacillus bulgaricus to produce lactic acid. Probiotics when consumed provide health benefits by improving and restoring flora of the gut.

There are mainly three types of bacteria classified as probiotics. They all have different benefits.

  1. Lactobacillus bulgaricus – This is the most common probiotic. You will get this type in your yogurt and other fermented foods. It helps people who can’t digest lactose, the sugar in milk.
  1. Bifidobacterium it’s found in some dairy products. It may help treat symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
  1. Saccharomyces boulardii – It is the yeast found in probiotics. It helps to fight diarrhea and other digestive problems.

Food that contain good quality of Probiotics

  1. Yogurt
  2. Banana
  3. Pickles
  4. Coconut
  5. Apple cider vinegar
  6. Raw milk

Taurine –

Taurine is the most abundant amino acid found in our body. It is specially found in the brain, heart, eyes and muscle. It is the non-essential amino acid. 

It helps in stimulating metabolism so it is used in many energy drinks. Moreover, it also helps in maintaining calcium level, electrolytes and developing nervous system.

Taurine is only found in animal products and dairy products.

Vitamin C – 

Vitamin C is also called Ascorbic acid.

Vitamin C helps in formation of collagen which improves our skin health and also helps blood clot process.

It also helps in growth and repair of damaged cells. Vitamin C is a great anti-oxidant which help in boosting immune system and strengthen body’s defence system

Food Rich in vitamin C

  1. Amla
  2. Lemon
  3. Oranges
  4. Pineapple
  5. Kiwi

Vitamin D –

As we all know sun lights are the great source of Vitamin D.

Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus which helps in bone strengthening and prevents osteoporosis.

Vitamin D also helps in boosting the immune system and prevents some heart diseases.

Food rich in Vitamin D

  1. Egg yolk
  2. Beef
  3. Dairy product
  4. Soy milk
  5. Fatty fish

Vitamin E –

Vitamin E is a great anti-oxidant which can protect your cell damage and also remove the free radicals in our body .

Vitamin E also improves skin health and hair growth.

Food rich in Vitamin E

  1. Vegetable oil
  2. Almond and Peanuts
  3. Sunflower seeds
  4. Green leafy vegetables.

Whey and Casein Protein – 

A Basic Guide for your Sports Supplements

Dietary supplements are anything that helps athletes to enhance the performance of sport activities,help to grow faster rate, enhance lean body mass, decrease body fat,increase weight BodyBuilding supplements are natural ways to enhance an athlete.

Supplementation will work properly if other factors like nutrition , sleep and training are done properly and in the right ways.

Whey protein is the milk protein found when making cheese out of milk the fatty liquid that is being separated is whey protein. If you have ever noticed the homemade yogurt has water on its above that is whey.

Whey protein is high in protein contained with several other nutrients. It is the fast digesting protein which is why people consume it after workout for recovery and repair of muscle tissues.

There are 3 types of Whey protein:-

  1. Concentrated whey Protein – It contain 60 to 80 percent of protein
  1. Isolated whey Protein – It contain 80 to 90 percent of protein
  1. Hydrolysed whey – It is rich in digestive enzymes and is absorbed very quickly.

Casein Protein

Milk also has casein protein which is one of the best and popular types of dietary protein supplement. It has all the essential amino acids  and it is usually taken before bed time because it releases amino acid slowly for 6 to 8 hours. It is taken for the recovery process and to maintain anabolic effect while sleeping and prevent muscle breakdown.


ZMA is a very vital supplement you can use because it improves athletic performance, speeds up the recovery process and helps in sleep quality. ZMA has three main ingredients Zinc, Magnesium and Vitamin B6. It also help in testosterone production, muscle mass growth and IGF-1 which help in growth of  cells and it’s recovery.

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Surajit Jana.

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