Ergogenic aids are substances that enhance energy production, use or recovery and provide athletes with a competitive advantage.
Below are our favourite top 5 Ergogenic Aids that have been scientifically proven to enhance performance:
Creatine is one of the most researched sports supplements in the world. Studies show that it can increase muscle mass, strength and performance. Creatine is a combination of amino acids and can be found in high protein foods like fish and meat. Creatine plays a role in energy production in the cells in the body. It is a saturation substance which means you need to take it on a daily basis to be effective. The loading phase is not effective and is not backed up by science. The recommended dosage for maintenance is 3-5g a day which can be taken anytime of the day, it doesn’t matter in relation to workouts. You do not need to cycle off creatine. Take it indefiantly. The side effects are weight gain which is just a shift in water in the body. Creatine draws water into cells.
The leucine metabolite beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) has been extensively used as an ergogenic aid. It has been shown to decrease protein muscle damage and breakdown. It speeds up recovery from high intensity exercise, preserves lean body mass in the presence of a calorie restriction. It is also a saturation substance so you will need to take it daily. The recommended dosage is 1-2g daily. It can take 2 weeks to have an effect, make sure you take it consistently.
The research have not shown any negative effects of taking HMB.
Beta-alanine enhances performance by increasing exercise capacity and decreasing muscle fatigue. It increases muscular carnosine concentration, carnosine reduces exercise induced acidosis. It decreases muscle fatigue during resistance training, so it can increase more sets/ reps for longer. It is a saturation substance so it is recommended to take daily. The suggested dosage is 4-6g daily. It can take about 4 weeks for it to be effective, you may feel the tingly sensation like the itch that makes you want to workout. To reduce this, you can half the dose and take throughout the day (e.g 2g in morning, 2g in evening).
Caffeine has been shown to increase different aspects of exercise performance. Increase muscular endurance, strength and aerobic endurance. Caffeine exerts a greater ergogenic effect when consumed in an anhydrous state [contains no water or pill form] as compared to coffee. When you look at the total evidence available, in low to moderate levels, caffeine will likely result in an improvement in both your aerobic exercise ability and tolerance and may also provide benefit in resistance exercise. The recommended dosage is 3-6mg per kg of body mass; ideally take 60 minutes before working out depends on what way (e.g pill, gum, coffee). Only take it right before you workout for performance enhancing effects and just be aware that you can build up a tolerance to caffeine.
Nitric Oxide Dilators (beetroot juice/ powder/ citrulline malate)
From an athletic perspective, nitric oxide’s primary role is to regulate the delivery of oxygen to muscles, It does this by relaxing and opening blood vessels, subsequently improving blood flow. Better blood flow not only translates into lower blood pressure, but a decreased demand on your heart and skeletal muscles. Better blood flow also supports a muscles’ ability to contract and transport metabolic by-products such as lactic acid. Because NO is responsible for delivering oxygen-rich blood to every cell, tissue, and organ system in the human body, it is now recognised by the scientific, medical, and athletic communities as a key, physiological performance variable.
Beetroot juice and citrulline malate are great examples of nitric oxide dilators. Every product is different in regards to recommended dosage, but it is usually advised to take 60-90 minutes prior to exercise.