Food supplements for top sporting performance

2 MIN 7 June 2023

Food supplements are used by athletes to supplement their sporting diet: this is because they are a concentrated source of nutrients (vitamins and minerals) as well as amino acids, essential fatty acids and fibre, depending on the type used. Food supplements therefore aim to correct nutritional deficiencies and ensure an appropriate intake of some nutritional substances. However, that is not all. Because food supplements are also used to support certain diets, including vegetarian diets; or to support some of our body functions, perhaps during moments of stress, for both our physical and psychological well-being.

It is important to underline that in the European Union, food supplements are not classified as medicinal products or drugs as they have no pharmacological function in our body.

Why food supplements are important in sports nutrition.

When doing sport at high frequency and high intensity, our body must be assured a delicate balance between physical activity and recovery. The latter not only means rest but also restoring those nutrients our body has burned during physical effort, to prevent reaching the next training session without enough energy. And here the role of supplements comes into play, as they help us to reach top nutritional form: difficult to achieve with a sporting diet alone. In fact, during physical activity we may consume huge stocks of vitamins, minerals and amino acids which, even with a correct diet, must be topped up with food supplements.

How to use food supplements correctly

As explained, food supplements are not drugs, but must be used by sportspersons with care. First of all, they must not replace a balanced sports nutrition nor be a remedy for an incorrect diet: rule one is to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Rule two: every sport and every situation must be treated individually, choosing the best solution, possibly supported by a professional.

Each food supplement has a specific purpose: for example, the proteins in milk whey help to increase muscle mass; others to lose weight; others again provide energy during prolonged effort, and this is why they are ideal for endurance sports. But that’s not all: branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) are perfect for aiding recovery after physical activity; while taurine is recommended for metabolic functions.

Food supplements supporting prolonged physical effort

When the physical activity requires prolonged physical effort, the best food supplements are those that are rich in caffeine or based on carbohydrate solutions. Caffeine reduces the perception of effort, and also reduces the feeling of fatigue; it increases attention and concentrations during the training session. A correct carbohydrate solution, on the other hand, helps maintain high performance, with a controlled release of energy during physical activity.

When physical activity lasts for more than 60 minutes and is high-intensity, Cetilar® Nutrition has developed Endurance Gel, a food supplement in a 60 ml gel format with a carbohydrate ratio –trehalose, maltodextrin and fructose– that ensures the controlled release of energy. Moreover, with 150 mg of caffeine, it also improves mental concentration and physical performance. We have also developed Endurance Carb, with the same nutrients but in a powder form, to be dissolved in 500 ml of water and drunk before or during physical activity, just like Endurance Gel.

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