Supplements often get a bad rap in the fitness industry, and you’ll often find people in two camps – either they love them and use them all the time, or they hate them and declare that everything we need should come from our diet.
At FSCR we’re a bit in the middle.
Essentially, we use supplements to do that exact thing, supplement what we necessarily cannot get through the diet without relying on them to replace whole foods or meals. Convenience as well will play a part – sometimes when rushing between work, gym and clients, this often means that a protein bar/shake are the easiest options to keep us on track. So let’s talk about the supplements we recommend for our players.
Omega-3 supplementation has a variety of different benefits for athletes and we recommend our players take it daily. Omega-3 is a powerful anti-inflammatory, which is found naturally in oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, but also flax and chia seeds. It can be difficult to get enough omega-3 through the diet, particularly if you don’t like fish. Due to its anti-inflammatory response, omega-3 can help rehabilitating players recover faster from injury whilst also helping to rebuild collagen for soft-tissue injuries (1). Excess amounts of NSAIDs (Ibuprofen) have been shown to negatively affect muscle protein and muscular adaptations (Lija 2017), whereas Omega-3 supplementation has shown to decrease exercise induced muscle damage (8).
The Recommended Dose:
1-2g of Fish Oil per day – EPA:DHA 2:1
Vitamin D has become one of the more widely researched supplements with regards to athletic populations and performance, with the consensus identifying that inadequate Vitamin D levels negatively affects musculoskeletal performance (4). Also known as the ‘Sunshine Vitamin’ as it is primarily produced via a reaction between UVB rays and our skin with very little intake through the diet (3). A staggering 88% of the world’s population are Vitamin D deficient (6), which can be largely attributed to the poor sunlight between the months September-April (in the UK and northern hemisphere), particularly if training indoors or working in an office.
Insufficient levels of vitamin D can be attributed to a number of negative physiological and psychological effects on the body including; depression, cognitive decline, higher risk of bone fractures, muscle weakness and reduced immune function (6). In terms of athletic performance, Vitamin D is an extremely important vitamin to not overlook and could benefit from the additional supplementation to ensure adequate levels during the winter months.
The Recommended Dose:
20,000 International Units (IUs) per week – DO NOT EXCEED 10,000 IUs a day.
Creatine has been well researched with its effectiveness known to improving high intensity exercise capability and increasing lean muscle mass with resistance training. Creatine is the second most used supplement within the athletic population, with the first being Vitamin C (10). Essentially creatine is an energy reservoir; it is stored within the muscles as Phosphocreatine (PCr) and offers the additional Phosphate molecule for energy production to create ATP, increasing anaerobic, quick burst anaerobic activity and repeated sprints. Footballers often have to engage in multiple sprints and quick burst activity, and then recover quickly, creatine supplementation has shown to not only increase PCr but also increase the rate of ATP re-synthesis therefore improving recovery time in between bouts (2).
In addition, creatine supplementation has been shown as an effective tool for injury rehabilitation to prevent muscle atrophy during an extended periods of disuse (7). As a result of taking creatine, injured players are able to prevent a decrease of lean muscle and help promote greater strength gain during rehabilitation (9).
The Recommended Dose:
Acute Loading Phase – 5g 4 times a day for 5 days
Maintenance Phase – 5g per day.
Protein & BCAAs
I won’t delve too much into why additional protein supplementation may be beneficial – please see previous blog post on ‘Protein – Do I Even Need It?’, https://footballscr.com//single-post/2017/09/11/Do-I-need-Protein if you want to learn more.
Safe to say, protein is one of the most abundantly used supplements within the fitness industry, and has proven benefits of increasing protein synthesis when consumed post-exercise or resistance training (11).
BCAA’s or Branched Chain Amino Acids, are often marketed as the ‘saviour and creator’ of lean muscle, which is a bit of a stretch – and realistically we don’t need to be shelling out loads of money on BCAA drinks if your protein intake is on point. However, there can be a few exceptions in which we do recommend taking an additional BCAA drink. During injury rehabilitation and hypocaloric diets, BCAA’s have shown to help prevent muscle loss when consumed pre-exercise (5) and particularly if exercising in a fasted state due to the additional presence of amino acids.
The Recommended Dose:
Protein – 20g every 3 hours
No Optimal – BCAA’s – 6-8g BCAA’s
Depending on the player, fixture schedule and training status, we may recommend a few additional supplements to help get them over the line and performing at the best day after day.
- Multivitamin – I’m a big believer in eating a rainbow of color and getting all micro-nutrients from your food, however, sometimes it’s worth offering an additional multivitamin to ensure you know they are getting the full spectrum regardless. This is particularly important for players who don’t eat fruit or vegetables.
- Cherry Active – During a congested fixture period recovery it’s vitally important, particularly if traveling long distances. Therefore, we will often give our players a Cherry Active 30ml shot post-match. Cherry Active is rich in phytochemicals which can help speed up muscle recovery and also act as an anti-inflammatory. In addition, it contains natural melatonin, which can help improve sleep quality, which is why on long journeys or late games it is something we definitely recommend.
- Barr, K (2015) Training and Nutrition to Prevent Soft Tissue Injuries and Accelerate Return to Play, 28, (142) 1-6
- Buford, T.W, Krieder, R.B, Stout, J.R, Greenwood, M, Campbell, B, Spano, M, Ziegenfuss, T, Lopez, H, Landis, J and Antonio, J (2007) International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Creatine Supplementation and Exercise, 4:6
- Cannell, J.J, Hollis, B.W, Sorenson, M.B, Taft, T.N and Anderson, J.J.B (2009) Athletic Performance and Vitamin D
- Close, G.L, Russell, J, Cobley, J.N, Owens, D.J, Wilson, G, Gregson, W, Fraser, W.D and Morton, J.P (2013) Assessment of Vitamin D Concentration in Non-Supplemented Professional Athletes and Healthy Athletes During the Winter Months in the UK: Implications for Skeletal Muscle Function, 31 (4): 344-353
- Ciocca, M (2005) Medication and Supplement Use by Athletes, 24: 719-738
- Dhalquist, D.T, Dieter, B.P and Koehler, M.S (2015) Plausible Ergogenic Effects of Vitamin D on Athletic Performance and Recovery, 12:33
- Hespel, P, Eijnde, B.O, Leemputte, M.L, Urso, B, Greenhaff, P.L, Labarque, V, Dymarkowski, S, Hecke, P.V and Richter, E. A (2011) Oral Creatine Supplementation Facilitates the Rehabilitation of Disuse Atrophy and Alters the Expression of Muscle Myogenic Factors in Humans, 536 (2): 625-633
- Jakeman, J.R, Lambrick, D.M, Wooley, B, Babraj, J.A and Faulkner, J.A (2017) Effect of an Acute Dose of Omega-3 Fish Oil Following Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage, 117(3): 575-582
- Kreider, R.B, Kalman, D.S, Antonio, J, Ziegenfuss, T, Wildman, R, Collins, R, Candow, D.G, Leiner, S.M, Almada, A.L and Lopez, H.L (2017) International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Safety and Efficacy of Creatine Supplementation in Exercise, Sport and Medicine, 14:18
- Petroczi A, Naughton D, Mazanov J, Holloway A and Bingham J Performance enhancement with supplements: incongruence between rationale and practice, , 4;19
- Rasmussen, B.B, Tipton, K.D, Miller, S.L, Wolf, S.E and Wolfe, R.R (2000) An Oral Essential Amino Acid-Carbohydrate Supplement Enhances Muscle Protein Anabolism After Resistance Exercise, 88: 386-392