Being fueled for, and subsequently recovered sufficiently from exercise in any competitive/training environment is essential for optimal performance. Every athlete must be in optimal health to reap the benefits of their training protocol, so that they can then perform at their best possible level when it comes to a real competitive situation.
The sports that I am heavily involved in (MMA and rugby) require explosive power from the offset, but most important is the athlete's ability to to perform explosively under fatigued conditions. Because of this, an unexpected (to the uninitiated) amount of endurance is required.
Training at high intensity – which is required to become successful in any sport – can easily become very overwhelming for the body, and I feel that supplementation can not only prevent this from happening – and stop ‘burning out’ – but also help to fuel the different activities I put my athletes through, which take place in the various training parameters in employ.
As a baseline, I would always recommend taking some form of ‘greens’/multi-vitamin and potentially some mineral supplements to ensure that the immune system is always getting enough nutrients to function at its best, and allow the individual to consistently train hard without getting ill and regressing.
Another key supplement for me and my athletes is Omega 3 capsules. These help with so many different processes; such as reducing blood pressure, regulating hormone levels, increasing metabolism and so much more. A solid amount of all of these should be consumed through nutrient dense foods, however by supplementing them further you are able to make certain that in a worst-case scenario, you are hitting the minimum amounts to reap the many benefits.
Immediately after post workout I think that some form of fast absorbing protein like whey – or potentially a whey isolate depending on your financial situation – always taken with water, post workout, to ensure that it is absorbed as quickly as possible.
Depending on what sport and/or stage the individual is in, post workout high GI, fast absorbing carbohydrates such as waxy maize starch or maltodextrin are good to consume to replenish muscle glycogen ready for the next training session. Immediately post workout, the body is most sensitive to insulin and so the carbohydrates will be utilized to their maximum potential – and be less likely to be converted to fat.
I am also a big believer of intra-workout supplements; to maximally fuel the task in hand and also to stop catabolic processes such as muscle cannibalization – this is especially important when performing endurance or longer aerobic training sessions, which are both vital in a rugby and MMA athletes regime.
Personally I think that BCAA’s are ideal for any type of training (not just endurance/aerobic activity) to not only help with maintaining strength and muscle but also help to facilitate increases in them too!
When an athlete is taking part in either longer aerobic training or even potentially power (dependent on their training goals and how insulin sensitive they are) fast absorbing carbohydrates may also be consumed along side this to help maintain the intensity needed in the session. The ideal carbohydrate supplements in my opinion for this are highly branched cyclic dextrin or Vitargo because of their rapid absorption speed however on if on a budget dextrose also works well.
Pre-workout stimulant type supplements are in my experience, different for every single athlete. Some find them extremely useful and use them as a great aid to their training, however others find it has no beneficial consequences and, waste of time and money. When buying pre workouts try to make sure that it contains good quality ingredients, examples may include caffeine, L-tyrosine and Taurine.
For power athlete’s creatine pre-workout can also be a very beneficial supplement, as this then loads ATP into the body, which is the energy currency used in human metabolism. Benefits from taking this include improved anaerobic capacity, improved power and strength – and a nice by product is also muscle gain.
Sometimes, it is advised that an athlete consumes protein before they sleep to ensure they don’t go into a catabolic state when they are inactive, as it essentially an 8-10 hour fasting period. This is why it is advised to take a slow digesting protein supplement such as casein or perhaps mixing your usual whey protein with milk for a similar slow absorbing effect – ensuring that it is released over the duration of the night.
Sometimes, as an athlete it can be not only expensive but also inconvenient to ingest the optimal amount of macronutrients and micronutrients, this is what supplements are for. However, this being said the majority of your calorific requirements should come from natural wholesome foods and your diet should never become dependent on supplements alone – they exactly that: useful to supplement your diet. Good luck.
About the author: Joe is currently playing rugby for Newark U18's on both the 1st and 2nd team. Last year in the u17's Joe and his team made it to the Midlands final, winning the NLD cup. He has also played for Leicester Tigers DPP squad, and is expected to make trials for England in the bear future. He also coaches lower year school teams. In his off-season he competes in Mixed martial Arts (MMA) and has a record of 8-0 undefeated, after fighting on various cards fro Lockdown MMA.