The best sports nutrition formulas designed to improve performance draw from a pool of ingredients researched for benefits to energy production, cognitive function and endurance, both in general and specifically concerning muscles.
Energy production staples, such as creatine and carnitine, help drive production and replenishment of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the molecular energy currency in the body. Carbs are a preferred fuel for energy production via glycolysis, but a ketogenic state brought on by very low carb levels turns on fat burning to produce energy via ketone bodies—acetoacetate, acetone and beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB)—that feed the deep cycles of ATP production.
Energy not only drives muscles, but also brain power. The ability to process information and memories and make decisions is crucial to sports performance. This growing area of sports nutrition has focused on cognitive health stalwarts such as choline and citicoline, precursors to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which impacts muscle function, fight-or-flight response and central nervous system (CNS) functions such as attention, learning, memory and motivation.
However, new players in the cognitive arena such as spearmint (Mentha spicata), whole coffee fruit (Coffea Arabica) and inositol-stabilized arginine silicate have demonstrated benefits to memory, reaction time and processing, including messenger neurotransmitters.
Neuromuscular benefits have been linked with beetroot, which also offers cardiovascular support important to endurance and recovery. Betaine, a component of beetroot, has displayed its own benefits to muscle endurance, resulting in increased muscle power and muscle protein synthesis (MPS), the making of new muscle.
Carnosine, via beta alanine supplementation, has shown an ability to inhibit muscle fatigue, in addition to its energy production role, and may help increase the muscles’ ability to work. Alanine, combined with fellow amino acid glutamine, may also delay muscle fatigue as well as improve reaction time, endurance and overall performance in skill sports.!
For more information on these and other key performance ingredients, check out the special Sports Performance digital issue.