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The boom in sports supplements: why the harm from them can be greater than the benefits

Victoria RyapolovaNews
Consult with a professional to choose safe supplements for you

Whether you're a professional athlete or just want to keep your body in good shape, you've probably wondered whether you should take sports nutritional supplements. Nowadays, the market is full of various drinks, pills, powders, and snacks, but it's easy for an ordinary person to get lost in this variety of offers.

Exclusively for OBOZREVATEL, doctor and health expert, Ulyana Werner told us how sports supplements affect our body and which one is better to choose for yourself. She noted that there are several supplements to improve athletic performance, but such products often lack a reliable evidence base. In addition, some of them can impair performance, while others are potentially harmful to human health.

According to the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, it was found that almost one in five sports supplements tested contained banned substances such as stimulants and anabolic drugs. About 20% of nutritional supplements sold in Europe and the United States also contain anabolic steroids, but these ingredients are not listed on the label.

The boom in sports supplements: why the harm from them can be greater than the benefits

Anabolic or androgenic steroids, which may be present in certain sports supplements, are synthetic drugs that disrupt the normal hormonal balance. Marketed as "prohormones," "natural steroids," or "testosterone boosters," these substances claim to enhance muscle mass and strength. However, the use of androgenic steroids can lead to various negative effects such as fatigue, low mood, irritability, male pattern baldness, liver damage, heart complications, decreased muscle mass and strength, low libido, increased fat mass, and breast enlargement in men (gynecomastia).

Concerning stimulants, a 2021 study published in Clinical Toxicology found nine banned drugs in 17 brands of over-the-counter energy and weight loss supplements. At low doses, stimulants can cause increased sweating, tremors, difficulty concentrating, and insomnia, as well as decreased appetite and dehydration. Higher doses may result in heart palpitations and high blood pressure.

Even if one is confident that sports supplements do not contain steroids or stimulants, the risk of harm persists. For instance, excessive consumption of protein supplements is not advisable for individuals with kidney disease. Some herbs promoted for weight loss, like Cambodian garcinia, can cause severe liver damage. These weight loss drugs often induce only a diuretic effect, unrelated to actual weight loss. Additionally, herbal preparations may lower blood sugar levels, and their use alongside antidiabetic drugs can lead to hypoglycemia.

The boom in sports supplements: why the harm from them can be greater than the benefits

Energy drinks, often available in gyms, typically contain caffeine, guarana, taurine (an amino acid naturally found in meat and fish), B vitamins, and sugar. Consuming them before training can lead to negative effects such as anxiety, irritability, dehydration, heart palpitations, and increased blood pressure.

One of the widely used sports supplements is creatine. It occurs naturally in the human body and is formed from amino acids, playing a role in transferring energy to cells. Creatine supplements can assist athletes in activities requiring short bursts of speed or muscle strength, particularly in sports like running or weightlifting.

Creatine is generally considered safe, but there is a risk of serious health effects, such as kidney damage, if used in high doses. Excessive consumption may also reduce the body's natural creatine synthesis, leading to side effects like diarrhea, dizziness, weight gain, and dehydration.

 

The boom in sports supplements: why the harm from them can be greater than the benefits

To mitigate potential health issues arising from the use of sports supplements, it is advisable to consult with a specialist. A healthcare professional can help select high-quality and safe products based on your health status and any underlying chronic conditions. It's essential to prioritize a balanced diet, ensure adequate sleep, and follow proper training techniques to ensure sustainable and effective results.

Recently, OBOZREVATEL told you what fats you need to eat in larger quantities for healthy weight loss. This includes olive oil, which can be fried and added to salads. Avocados are another useful food for weight loss. Read more in the article.

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