Nutritional supplements for sport


The word “supplement” explains what must be the task of these products: supplement our diet with the nutrient or group of nutrients that we take in adequate amounts, or of which we are lacking. In this situation, use integrator makes sense, in fact it would have the task of preventing the effects of the shortage.

Unfortunately, however, today supplements are used indiscriminately, with no real food shortage and without proper attention.

This is extremely wrong and can also lead to very serious consequences for the health!

An example is the danger of prescribing by non-experts (and not by physicians) who may not be able to recommend the right dosage, the period of use, the contra-indications and so on.

How should a sportsman behave against the world of nutritional supplements?

First of all we must remember that integrate the sportsman nutrition means to adopt healthy eating behavior, suitable for real needs, in order to sustain the physical exertion without causing damage to health.

The whole nutrition is what must be integrated and balanced by!

Sporting activity increases the metabolic activities, consumption and therefore the needs of physiological substances in the body that therefore need to be replenished through diet.

In particular, the sportsman has a greater need for energy, water and minerals, so the only supplements that can make sense, if used wisely, are those aimed at this integration (even though in fact the same result can be achieved by consuming certain foods).

We can divide nutritional supplements for sports into categories:

  • We have the products to achieve energy integration that are based on carbohydrates (the most used are fructose, and maltodextrin); They shall be supplemented with B vitamins and vitamin C. They are generally marketed in the form of bars or drinks.
  • Products with minerals to replenish idrosaline losses are marketed in the form of drinks. The most important supplement of this category is of course water. To avoid dehydration before, during and after a sports performance the athlete should drink more water and, if the hard sport performance more than 60 min., may be useful to take water with added minerals and sugars.
  • In the products for the integration of protein calories provided by the protein portion should be dominant than the total calories provided by the product, and must also be present vitamin B6. These product have warnings (the protein intake (diet + supplement) should not be more than 1.5 g / day / kg body weight) and contraindications (in cases of kidney diseases, liver and in general to under 12 years), so it is necessary to consult the doctor, especially in case of prolonged use (over 6-8 weeks).

Do protein supplements increase muscles?

This belief often depends on the idea that muscles are made of protein, so more protein (in the form of supplements) you take and the more you increase your muscles. False!!!

The 70% of the muscle is water, the amount of protein required to replace those that are lost with physical activity is small and especially is equipped from food! The excess protein is eliminated from the body.

Furthermore the intake of high amounts of protein can cause metabolic imbalances and problems of absorption; increases the loss of calcium, and this effect is particularly relevant for women.


  • About the products for the integration of amino acids and derivatives, the hypothesis that the intake of amino acids (especially branched) enhance performance is not demonstrated by any clinical study; some studies have, on the contrary, showed that intake of amino acids will not counteract the muscle fatigue and will not improve exercise performance. They may also have adverse reactions such as high doses of arginine resulted in headache, low blood pressure and nephrotoxicity.

Remember that individual amino acids as supplements do not build your muscles !!! In fact are needed all amino acids in the right proportions!


  • amoung other products with nutritional value associated with intense muscular effort there are vitamin supplements, for which there are no clinical studies demonstrating a real vitamins effect on muscle soreness; furthermore a proper nutrition provides the body with the necessary requirements of vitamins and, apart from the confirmed cases of deficiency, vitamin supplements are not necessary and may result in toxicity from overdose.

Sodium bicarbonate instead is an antacid that it was thought to use in sports to neutralize the lactic acid that accumulates in the muscles. In  order that it performs this action would require extremely high doses. The clinical studies have not shown a clear improvement in physical activity after taking bicarbonate, which among other things, can cause explosive diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting and flatulence.


WHO-World Health Organization- Department of Nutrition for Health and Development (NHD)  (