Last Tuesday, I gave an extensive introduction to sports nutrition. Before I go into exactly what to eat, it is important to understand what ergogenic aids are and how they help or take away from your workouts, as well as their nutritional value. Ergogenic aids are basically a substance that can increase your capacity and energy so that you do not have any fatigue related symptoms. They give you more physical and mental strength and therefore, enhancing athletic performance and results. Of course, there are many different kinds of ergogenic aids, some of which are illegal. For example, blood doping, different forms of steroids, and the human growth hormone are illegal to consume when participating in a competitive sporting activity. And other than that, although they provide short-term benefits, they are rather detrimental to your long-term health and do place a lot of stress and strain on your heart and other organs.
So what are some healthy ergogenic aids to keep you going during your workouts? Well, the best ones are the nutritional aids, such as carbohydrate loading, sports drinks, and caffeine. Although, I recommend carbohydrates and sports drinks over caffeine any day. Loading up on complex carbohydrates is perhaps one of the best and safest ergogenic aid out there because carbs provide energy and is the main source of fuel for the muscles. You want to have enough carbs so that your body does not have to turn to its protein or fat storage because you will then begin to lose muscle mass rather than fat mass. The type of carbohydrate also makes a difference because different types of carbohydrates have different rates of digestion and provide varying rates of glucose release into the blood. Sports drinks are easily digested into glucose and will easily boost your energy because they also replenish your electrolytes and thus keeping you hydrated. However, starches from pasta, bread, rice, and other grains are also effective and best to consume before a workout. A few vegetables or some fruit are also excellent sources of complex carbohydrates. You want to avoid processed and high sugar foods such as crisps, chocolates, and fried foods before a workout because it will weigh you down and keep you from having the best workout. My personal recommendation is that along with carbohydrate loading, you also want to consume some protein in preparation for muscle building, losing fat, and to help stabilize your sugar levels. The best protein to eat with your complex carbohydrates includes nuts and seeds. Avoid eating meats before a workout because they are heavy and hard to digest and thus will slow you down.
There are also mechanical forms of ergogenic aids. These are free weights to develop strength, lightweight racing shoes, nasal strips to improve airflow to the lungs, and running parachutes for resistance to develop strength. With the use of these, overtime, you will have more strength and energy to improve your athletic performance.
And what about other forms of ergogenic aids to help your workouts? What you do before and after your workout, as well as what you do when you are not working out also impacts your health and health goals greatly. Eating right and having balanced meals all the time will of course affect your weight, muscle mass, and energy levels constantly. However, aside from nutrition, there are many other things you can do to support your workouts. Going into a sauna, getting massages, and doing yoga are all excellent ways to improve your game. The sauna and massages will help you to relax and be calmer during your workouts. You are more likely to achieve your health goals if you are not as worried about them. And yoga is great for balance, strength, and flexibility. Many professional sports teams now require that their athletes do yoga because it will help them to play better out on the field. Yoga helps to build muscle and strength in areas that you probably didn’t even know you had while maintaining flexibility in your muscles, which will reduce the amount of tearing and damage that occurs when engaging in intense sporting activities.
Health and happiness,