Energy Supplements

Running, biking, and swimming are high-intensity activities. For the endurance athlete, there are many types of energy supplements. Athletes generally use these portable, convenient supplements every 30-50 minutes during races or events that are more than 60 minutes in length.

Energy supplements contain a combination of proteins, carbohydrates, sodium, electrolytes, potassium, caffeine, and fats to burn energy. There are two kinds of carbohydrates in energy supplements—simple carbohydrates of sucrose, glucose, and fructose and complex carbohydrates such as glucose polymers and maltodextrins.

Supplements delay muscular fatigue, raise your blood sugar, enhance performance. You may also feel a psychological boost in as quickly as five minutes after consuming energy supplements. Energy supplements can provide an athlete with energy during events that require extreme endurance. Supplements contain trace minerals your body needs during extended periods of intense stress. Unlike natural substances that may contain these minerals, such as jelly, fruit, or honey, supplements are convenient and portable. Some athletes, however, can develop a dependency on supplements or cannot tolerate the synthetic ingredients. They are also more expensive than fruit or natural sugars.

An energy gel is a supplement with a very thick, gelled consistency that provides carbohydrates to the body. It is also called an endurance gel, sports gel, nutritional gel, and carbohydrate gel. Bloks, moons, beans, and blasts are similar to gels except they are in solid form. They also replenish vitamins and trace minerals and are soft and easy to chew—like gummy candy. They also allow the athlete to portion out their energy supplement a little at a time compared to the gel, which must be consumed in its entirety at once.

Sports drinks such as Gatorade, Cliff, and Powerade are designed to maximize and enhance performance by providing the minerals and vitamins to enhance performance in long-distance sports. Sports drinks significantly boost your endurances compared with plain water. Energy drinks are soft drinks that are advertised to boost energy. Energy drinks include methylxanthines (including caffeine), vitamin B, and herbs. Other common ingredients are guarana, acai, and taurine, plus various forms of ginseng, maltodextrin, carbonated water, inositol, carnitine, creatine, glucuronolactone and ginkgo biloba. Some contain high levels of sugar, and many brands also offer artificially-sweetened “diet” versions. The central ingredient in most energy drinks is caffeine, the same stimulant found in coffee or tea, often in the form of guarana or yerba mate. Energy shots are a specialized kind of energy drink. Energy shots normally contain the same amount of caffeine, vitamins or other functional ingredients as their larger siblings, and therefore they may be considered concentrated forms of energy drinks. Types of energy drinks or shots include Red Bull, Redline, Monster, and Rockstar. Disadvantages are that sports drinks must be carried in a closed container and can generate a big sticky mess if spilled.

Electrolyte tabs provide the athlete to carry their energy in pill form to later add to their water for energy. They also contain sodium, calcium and often Vitamin A and B to increase energy and endurance. They are either low or no calories and make for a quick way to disolve for results. Some of the electrolytes include Nums, Nathan Catalyst, Hammer Fizz and GU Brew.

There are a variety of different energy bars made for specific sexes and for before, during, and after a workout. Some contain fruit for use during a workout and contain both carbohydrates and grains. Energy supplements can be carried in the pouch of the fuel belt or carried in the pockets of shorts or pants. Most contain 100 to 200 calories and 2 grams of carbohydrates.

It is general practice to take a supplement 15-30 minutes before a run or other endurance event and every 35-45 minutes during the event. Middle and back of the pack athletes should consume more supplements due to the length of their events.

Having these supplements on hand will help you deter loss of body fluids, drop in sugar levels, depletion in muscle carbohydrate or fat stores, and altered amino acids levels. Use of supplements will also lessen your fatigue. Most are easily digested and prolong energy levels.


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Christina Chapan

Christina Chapan

Christina Lee Steele Chapan is a certified personal trainer with four certifications from ISSA ACE, AFAA and SCW. She specializes with fitness for children and those adults and children with special needs. In addition to attaining her certifications, she is also a certified elementary and special education school teacher with a B.S. in Elementary Education, a minor in Biblical Studies from North Central University, an endorsement in Special Education, and an M.A. in Curriculum and Development from Governors State University. Her passion is for training the future of tomorrow. She is available for training, speaking and writing.
Christina Chapan

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