Hop into Health – Are Sports Supplements Over-rated?

Today on Hop into Health, Local dietician Mark Robinson came into the study to discuss sports supplements, how they can be advantageous and what to look for in a protein powder.

Both of us agreed that food is preferable but understand why people want to use enhancement products. They can help with fat loss, muscle can and sports performance. But the area has blown out and is worth millions of dollars.  Not all products are necessary and all they cracked up to be.

Podcast from the show. Fast forward the first minute as the sound is dodgey!

Answers are from Sam and Mark.

Q: Firstly – what is a calorie and how does the body use calories?

A: A calorie is how we measure energy. And to sustain life a person(being) needs a certain amount of calories a day to do the normal functions of life. If they eat too many these can be stored as fat. The body uses calories through 3 ways (exercise approx 60%, digestion approx 15% and thermagenesis 25%).

Thermagenesis is the heat that muscles create  – which burns an incredible amount of energy.

Most sports supplements help with increasing metabolism (and calorie burning) and can assist with fat loss, others give the body proteins that help with recovery or building new tissue and others boost naturally occurring bio active elements that can lead to improved hormones, function and energy supply.

Q: Who may benefit from taking a sports supplement?

A: Anyone really but the most common are athletes trying to improve their performance, people trying to lose weight and those seeking optimal health.

Q: Let’s talk about protein powders – what are the most common ingredients and what are they designed to do?

1. Whey isolate is the protein extracted from dairy and is considered a complete protein source. Isonizing it means it is quicker for the body to break down and is best taken 20 minutes after finishing a work out. It may help with recovery.

2. Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

These are three amino acids that you need to ingest in order to make them. They include isoleucine, leucine and valine. They help with muscle repair.

3. Caffeine and Carnitine


Both of these can stimulate your metabolism, delay fatigue and open up fat channels so good for general work out and increasing fat burning. Ideally these would be taken before a work out.



Q: What are other key ingredients to have in work out products?


A: Creatine (once again another amino acid) is important for muscle recovery and strength. It sits inside the muscle cells and helps them recruit water which makes the muscle stronger. It also helps with recovery. People normally load with creatine 20g a day for 5 days, then go onto a maintenance of 5g a day. It is recommended to have breaks from creatine so your body still makes it (and doesn’t switch off supply).

Glutamine is another amino acid that helps with muscle repair and is useful after training sessions. 1-5 grams a day can help with recovery and many protein powders have glutamine in their formulas.

Q: Are there things to be avoided in sports supplements and protein powders?

A: Yes there are a few undesirable things in sports products. Ones to be aware of are fructose (readily available sugar), sodium (try to limit this to 1200mg per 100g), artificial flavours and additives.

Stimulants can accumulate over your day so take into account all the stimulants and fat metabolisers you are having as too many can make you jittery, anxious, change your cortisol levels and possibly inhibit fat loss!

Stimulants include caffeine, black and green tea, black pepper, guarana, taurine and are included in many products.

If you have issues sleeping, losing weight, relaxing and feel jittery, you could be over stimulated.

Consult a nutritionist or dietician if you would like more information.

Supplements, food replacements and work out enhancers can all help but often they are not needed if you have a healthy balanced diet.

I (Health Queen here) prefer people eat foods in the first instance and follow a few key exercising rules such as:

a. Eating a small amount of carb 30 mins prior to exercise (e.g. fruit, rice cake) so the body has small amount of energy to draw from and not use muscle

b. Replace glycogen within 30 mins of stopping exercise (another small piece of carb)

c. Next main meal should include a healthy chunk of protein (animal or plant source)

d. Drink plenty of water

e. Have more carbs for prolonged activity and if doing extreme activities consider replacing BCAAs during.

Eat a balance of fats, proteins and limit carbs to vegetables and whole grains (brown rice) only.

Mark Robinson runs a clinic at Kudos Health Club and privately.