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3 Things Wrong With Supplements Designed For Endurance Athletes

Or more broadly, what is wrong with the endurance supplement market as a whole? Political buffs and economists already know the answer. There’s not enough parody in the space. Only about four big companies dominate the market. By contrast, meatheads enjoy the variety of 100’s of companies’ products, and in this regard (only this regard!), they are better off than endurance athletes. However for both bodybuilding and endurance supplements, profits increase at the expense of the consumer, so while bodybuilding supplement companies are forced to “do better,” because meatheads will simply go buy the better product from a different company, the few endurance supplement companies can easily maintain the status quo. What is the status quo, you ask? These are the top 3 issues currently hamstringing the creation of ideal endurance supplements.

Matter #1: Efficacious Dosing

Each supplement in the table that follows is a popular ingredient found in endurance supplements (for others, we recommend examine.com). We have provided the minimum dose considered to possibly be effective for improving performance and a citation of scientific literature to support the claim. Compare these values to products with which you are familiar with or use yourself (if the product has a fully disclosed label… many do not! Another problem!).

Ingredient

Dose

Beet Root Powder1,2

~1.5 grams (450mg nitrate)

Beta-alanine3,4

3.2 grams

Carbohydrate5

30 g/h of exercise

Caffeine6

3 mg/kg bodyweight

Creatine7

2.3 grams

Curcumin8

0.2 mg/kg bodyweight

Spirulina9,10

2g sprint; 6g endurance

Matter #2: Inclusion of Ineffective Ingredients

Didn’t see your favorite ingredient in the table above? That may be because it has not be proven effective for increasing endurance performance at all. While the following may confer some benefits that are of interest, they do not boost performance: Carnitine11 (but good for recovery/reducing muscle damage12), Vitamin B1213, and betaine14 (but effective for weightlifting15), and resveratrol16,17 which can actually DECREASE performance and the health benefits of exercise! Talk about a steaming pile! One extremely popular supplement, green tea extract, which has been found to improve performance might have other unintended consequences outside the laboratory setting, as it may decrease carbohydrate digestion and absorption potentially preventing an athlete’s best effort due to inadequate energy18.

Matter #3: Excluding Effective Ingredients

It’s unfortunate but true that this one is, at least in part, the fault of you the consumer. That’s okay though; it’s an easy fix! You see, these ingredients we’re about to discuss are some of the most clinically-validated and thoroughly researched available, and they work quite well!

Did you scoff when you saw caffeine listed in the table above? What about creatine? The fact of the matter is that myths surrounding these two are complete bullocks. NO, caffeine won’t stress the heart or cause dehydration, and NO, creatine supplementation does not automatically mean weight gain or slower performance.

Caffeine is indubitably the most effective supplement for improving endurance performance, and to leave it out most “performance-enhancing” endurance supplements is a gross oversight. 3-6mg/kg bodyweight of caffeine consumed 30-60 minutes before exercise increases endurance performance by 5-15%. In disbelief? Check out the position stand6 or see the conclusions on examine.com, which has reviewed over 400 studies on caffeine.

Creatine gets a bad rap in the endurance world. Yes, it is true that when supplementing with doses for weightlifting, there is a consistent and predictable increase in body weight due to water retention. If you were, prior to reading this article, skeptical about caffeine because of dehydration, then you should already be supplementing with creatine – it hydrates the muscles! Still worried about weight gain? Just take less. Supplementation with as little as 2.3 g/day (0.03 g/kg/day, to be specific) enhances fatigue resistance without increasing weight!7 However, even 21 g/day has been found to improve endurance performance.19

Conclusion

Carbohydrates and electrolytes are about the only supplements that have a universally favorable view in endurance sports. This is not because these are the only two that have purpose, but because any other supplements/ingredients have not been done right by the companies offering them, if they’re offered at all. To perform your best, it’s going to take more than some carbs and salt, but don’t believe the hype; more dollars are spent on marketing than on research. So how do you know what you are buying will actually work? It comes down to educating yourself on ingredients, dosages, and keeping up to date on the current scientific research. But who has time to do that? EndurElite does.

Interested in the efficacious doses of other supplements? Want to see other ingredients be debunked by science? Need to know more about caffeine? Stay tuned to EndurElite.com for our series of articles on supplements and sports science!

The EndurElite Promise

Born from years of research and countless hours dedicated to understanding what an athlete needs, EndurElite is the endurance athletes’ brand. Each EndurElite product is developed with intent using efficacious doses of scientifically-validated ingredients to give endurance athletes their best possible performance.

The ingredients in EndurElite products are not selected just because they work, but because they work together. Several components are involved in endurance exercise, and for each component, there are several factors driving it. EndurElite targets multiple factors from each component to make the biggest improvement in an athletes’ performance.

EndurElite has higher standards on quality and higher standards on innovation. Too many supplements are simple reproductions of an existing product. That’s not what we want to do because we know that to make a difference, we needed to do something different. That’s why we offer unique products specifically formulated for endurance athletes that are unlike anything else available on the market today. Each with an open label to show you exactly what sets us apart. We only make products that we trust to take ourselves. No fluff. No fillers. No false promises. Only products that help you push the limits of endurance performance, crush PRs, and bounce back quicker from training.

References:

  1. Wruss, J., Waldenberger, G., Huemer, S., Uygun, P., Lanzerstorfer, P., Müller, U., ... & Weghuber, J. (2015). Compositional characteristics of commercial beetroot products and beetroot juice prepared from seven beetroot varieties grown in Upper Austria. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis42, 46-55.
  2. Bailey, S. J., Winyard, P., Vanhatalo, A., Blackwell, J. R., DiMenna, F. J., Wilkerson, D. P., ... & Jones, A. M. (2009). Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O 2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans. Journal of applied physiology107(4), 1144-1155.
  3. Everaert, I., Stegen, S., Vanheel, B., Taes, Y., & Derave, W. (2013). Effect of beta-alanine and carnosine supplementation on muscle contractility in mice. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise45(1), 43-51.
  4. Harris, R. C., Tallon, M. J., Dunnett, M., Boobis, L., Coakley, J., Kim, H. J., ... & Wise, J. A. (2006). The absorption of orally supplied β-alanine and its effect on muscle carnosine synthesis in human vastus lateralis. Amino acids30(3), 279-289.
  5. Coyle, E. F. (1999). Physiological determinants of endurance exercise performance. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport2(3), 181-189.
  6. Goldstein, E. R., Ziegenfuss, T., Kalman, D., Kreider, R., Campbell, B., Wilborn, C., ... & Wildman, R. (2010). International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition7(1), 5.
  7. Rawson, E. S., Stec, M. J., Frederickson, S. J., & Miles, M. P. (2011). Low-dose creatine supplementation enhances fatigue resistance in the absence of weight gain. Nutrition27(4), 451-455.
  8. Huang, W. C., Chiu, W. C., Chuang, H. L., Tang, D. W., Lee, Z. M., Wei, L., ... & Huang, C. C. (2015). Effect of curcumin supplementation on physiological fatigue and physical performance in mice. Nutrients7(2), 905-921.
  9. Sandhu, J., & Shenoy, S. (2009). Efficacy of Spirulina Supplementation on Isometric Strength and Isometric Endurance of Quadriceps in Trained and Untrained Individuals–a comparative study. Ibnosina Journal of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences2(2), 79-86.
  10. Kalafati, M., Jamurtas, A. Z., Nikolaidis, M. G., Paschalis, V., Theodorou, A. A., Sakellariou, G. K., ... & Kouretas, D. (2010). Ergogenic and antioxidant effects of spirulina supplementation in humans. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise42(1), 142-151.
  11. Smith, W. A., Fry, A. C., Tschume, L. C., & Bloomer, R. J. (2008). Effect of glycine propionyl-L-carnitine on aerobic and anaerobic exercise performance. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism18(1), 19-36.
  12. Spiering, B. A., Kraemer, W. J., Hatfield, D. L., Vingren, J. L., Fragala, M. S., Ho, J. Y., ... & Volek, J. S. (2008). Effects of L-carnitine L-tartrate supplementation on muscle oxygenation responses to resistance exercise. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research22(4), 1130-1135.
  13. van der Beek, E. J. (1991). Vitamin supplementation and physical exercise performance. Journal of sports sciences9(S1), 77-89.
  14. Armstrong, L. E., Casa, D. J., Roti, M. W., Lee, E. C., Craig, S. A., Sutherland, J. W., ... & Maresh, C. M. (2008). Influence of betaine consumption on strenuous running and sprinting in a hot environment. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research22(3), 851-860.
  15. Lee, E. C., Maresh, C. M., Kraemer, W. J., Yamamoto, L. M., Hatfield, D. L., Bailey, B. L., ... & Craig, S. A. (2010). Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition7(1), 27.
  16. Gliemann, L., Schmidt, J. F., Olesen, J., Biensø, R. S., Peronard, S. L., Grandjean, S. U., ... & Hellsten, Y. (2013). Resveratrol blunts the positive effects of exercise training on cardiovascular health in aged men. The Journal of physiology591(20), 5047-5059.
  17. Scribbans, T. D., Ma, J. K., Edgett, B. A., Vorobej, K. A., Mitchell, A. S., Zelt, J. G., ... & Gurd, B. J. (2014). Resveratrol supplementation does not augment performance adaptations or fibre-type–specific responses to high-intensity interval training in humans. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism39(11), 1305-1313.
  18. Lochocka, K., Bajerska, J., Glapa, A., Fidler-Witon, E., Nowak, J. K., Szczapa, T., ... & Walkowiak, J. (2015). Green tea extract decreases starch digestion and absorption from a test meal in humans: a randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study. Scientific reports5.
  19. McConell, G. K., Shinewell, J., Stephens, T. J., Stathis, C. G., Canny, B. J., & Snow, R. J. (2005). Creatine supplementation reduces muscle inosine monophosphate during endurance exercise in humans. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 37(12), 2054.


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