Proper training, a balanced diet, and adequate rest are non-negotiables in fitness. But sometimes, you need an extra boost to reach your body goals. That’s where performance-enhancing supplements come in.
These supplements help optimize your body’s performance during workouts, improving endurance and muscle recovery. In this blog, let’s look at the benefits and risks of using these supplements and how to incorporate them correctly in your fitness journey.
Performance-Enhancing Supplements: The Good and the Bad
A performance-enhancing supplement or ergogenic aid helps someone enhance their athletic performance during high-intensity exercise or activity. However, there are safety concerns reported on certain performance enhancers.
Here are some benefits and risks of taking performance-enhancing drugs:
- Improved exercise performance
- Increased lean muscle mass
- Reduced muscle damage
- Enhanced energy levels
- Improved mental focus
While performance enhancers have benefits, high doses or use of illegal substances pose serious health problems. Below are some of those health risks:
- Kidney problems
- Liver injury
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Damaged DNA cells
- Addiction to stimulants
What Supplements Improve Athletic Performance?
Some supplements that improve athletic performance include creatine, beta-alanine, and protein. Creatine enhances muscle strength, while beta-alanine improves endurance and reduces fatigue. Protein, on the other hand, aids in muscle performance and repair.
However, it's important to note that not all muscle-building supplements are safe and effective. Check out the list of safe and non-safe supplements below:
Safe Performance-Enhancing Drugs
Some supplements have undergone rigorous tests and research to prove their performance-improving capabilities. It should be noted, however, that these supplements should be used safely and in consultation with healthcare providers or sports nutritionists.
Here are four examples:
Creatine is one of the most well-researched supplements. It is an endogenous compound naturally produced in muscle cells, which aids in generating energy during intense workouts or weightlifting sessions.
Aside from muscle strength and endurance training for bodybuilders, creatine also helps athletes improve overall power, especially in jumping and sprinting.
Just like creatine, Hydroxymethylbutyrate is also produced naturally in the body. HMB, a metabolite of the amino acid leucine, aids in muscle recovery during resistance training. It is generally considered safe at typical dosages of approximately 3 grams. However, consuming excessive amounts can lead to kidney problems.
Chromium is known to have many potential benefits, such as promoting lean muscle mass, fat burning, and improving energy levels. It is commonly available in drugstores as chromium picolinate. This dietary supplement helps enhance endurance, workout performance, and weight management.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
Conjugated Linoleic Acid is a type of fatty acid. Like chromium picolinate, CLA also helps reduce body fat, resulting in increased lean body mass. CLA supplements help bodybuilders to have increased endurance during training. Athletes also use CLA to reduce muscle damage after a high-intensity exercise or a sports performance.
Harmful and Illegal Performance-Enhancing Substances
Aside from the performance enhancers mentioned above, there are other substances that help improve athletic performance. However, the health risks associated with taking them far outweigh its benefits.
This is not an exhaustive list, but here are some examples of unsafe performance enhancers:
Anabolic steroids are lab-made versions of the male steroid testosterone. They help build muscle and reduce damage to athletes’ and bodybuilders’ muscle tissue during an intense workout or physical performance.
However, taking anabolic steroids can lead to severe health risks such as liver damage, cardiovascular issues, and hormonal imbalances. Long-term use also causes stunted growth in adolescents and unwanted masculinizing effects in females.
Anabolic steroids are illegal in the United States and other countries without a valid prescription.
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Diuretics cause the body to lose water through increased urine production. For some, it’s beneficial as it can help them with weight management. However, taking diuretics at any dose can cause electrolyte imbalances, dehydration, and impaired kidney function, resulting in other health issues.
Stimulants like caffeine enhance alertness and performance but pose significant dangers to the body. While stimulants can help athletes and bodybuilders exercise longer, taking them can lead to increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, anxiety, hallucination, and even addiction. Various stimulants like amphetamines and methylphenidate are banned in sports.
EPO is a hormone used to increase endurance and stimulate the production of red blood cells. But, when used improperly, it can result in an abnormally high red blood cell count, which can cause blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks. EPO is prohibited in sports due to its negative adverse health effects.
Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
Athletes use human growth hormone, also known as somatotropin, to increase muscle mass and improve their sports performance. However, there are risks associated with taking HGH. HGH increases an athlete's chance of developing diabetes. It can also lead to joint pain, weaker muscles, high blood pressure, and more.
How to Enhance Your Fitness Journey
Everyone wants to achieve their fitness goals. But that doesn’t mean risking your health using unsafe performance boosters. Consider these effective ways to enhance your fitness journey:
Ensure Proper Nutrition
Pay close attention to your diet. Ensure you're consuming a balanced and nutritious diet that supports your fitness goals. Focus on whole foods, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. These are essential for peak performance and muscle repair.
Develop an Exercise Routine
Regular exercise routine includes cardiovascular activity, strength training, and flexibility exercises. To push your body and attain your fitness goals, gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.
Rest and Recover
Allow your body enough time to recover after strenuous workouts or sports performances. Overall muscle recovery requires enough rest and sleep.
Take the Right Supplements
There’s nothing wrong with taking supplements to help you achieve your goals as long as you choose the right ones. Consult with healthcare professionals to determine if you have any nutritional deficiencies that could benefit from supplementation.
Enhance Athletic Performance with NCN
There are no shortcuts to achieving your fitness goals, whether building muscles or enhancing your physical performance. But there’s no shame in taking supplements, either. The important thing is you still prioritize your safety combined with a holistic approach to fitness.
If you are looking for premium-quality, safe, and all-natural supplements, we got you here at Natural Chemist Nutraceuticals (NCN). We offer supplements to aid you in your muscle-building journey and workout performance.
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Experience improved nutrient delivery, recovery, and mental focus with NCN. Check out our Amazon page and see our range of supplements to supercharge your fitness journey!