Junior Seminar Paper
Pre-workout supplements are a newer category of products that are designed to increase workout intensity and energy. These products are being used by millions of athletes today, and there have been a lot of questions raised about the long-term effects of them. There are a lot of different brands in this industry, but most of the products contain the same main ingredients: Creatine, nitric oxide, vitamin B, and caffeine. There has been quite a bit of research done on these ingredients individually, but together they have not been studied very much, which is why a lot of athletes avoid them. Another problem with these products is that athletes are becoming dependent on them instead of using them as a supplement to an adequate diet. In this paper we will look at each of the ingredients individually and see how the different components work together.
Probably the most important of the ingredients in these supplements is Creatine. Creatine is a compound that can be made in our bodies or taken as a dietary supplement. Creatine is composed of three amino acids: Glycine, Arginine, and Methionine. Our liver has the ability to combine these amino acids to synthesize Creatine, but some athletes believe it is beneficial to take in more than your body can produce because of how Creatine is used in the body. Creatine can be used as an energy source by recycling Adenosine diphosphate (ADP) into Adenosine triphosphate (ATP). In order for skeletal muscles to have energy, ATP stored in the body is converted into ADP, giving off energy. Unfortunately the body cannot store an unlimited supply of ATP, so the energy supply usually does not even last a minute. The reason why athletes take a Creatine supplement is because it can combine with phosphate to make Creatine phosphate, which can then react with ADP and turn the diphosphate back into a triphosphate usable once again for energy (Dotson). So, athletes use Creatine as a form of extra energy during workouts. There are about 120g of Creatine in our bodies already, but many weight lifters suggest that if you take Creatine supplements your energy levels will increase during workouts. A big problem is that the dosages have not been studied, so the suggested amount to take varies from an extra 5-15g (Dotson).
Nitric oxide is another substance found in most pre-workout supplements. Nitric Oxide is what really started the entire pre-workout industry with a product called “NO Explode” by BSN. The product was loaded with extra Nitric Oxide and caffeine, and a lot of other products from different companies branched off of this. Nitric oxide (NO) is an important signaling molecule that acts in many tissues to regulate a diverse range of physiological and cellular processes. Originally it was studied to help identify the agent responsible for promoting blood vessel relaxation and regulating vascular tone, but athletes found benefits in NO eventually. When athletes put their bodies under stress by running or doing other physical exercise, the muscles in their bodies need more oxygen, which is supplied by the blood. As the heart pumps harder during physical activity, the lining in the arteries releases nitric oxide into the blood. This causes the walls of veins and arteries to relax and widen, which allows more blood to pass through giving the muscles the oxygen they need. The increased oxygen to the muscles leads to decreased inflammation and an increase in endurance and strength (Kelly). Not surprisingly, athletes and body builders have tried to take advantage of Nitric Oxide as a supplement in their training, but the usefulness has been questioned in younger athletes. The ability for Nitric Oxide to be released in the blood peaks in younger athletes between the ages of 15-25, and Nitric Oxide supplements have been most well known for their cardiovascular benefits. When plaque is built up in...
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