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Supplement Science: What the lab coats have to say about various ingredients found in popular supplements

Supplement science

What the lab coats have to say about various ingredients found in popular supplements

By Yoshlin Naicker, CSCS, B.Sp (Hons Exercise Science)

With the start of a new year many fitness enthusiasts will kick it up a gear in the hopes of reaching their goals, whether it’s a new personal best or to stand on the competitive physique stage. It’s also the time of the year when many people join gyms or decide to make better use of their gym card to get back in shape after the end-of-year festivities.

Whatever the goal, many of us will turn to the plethora of supplements available on local store shelves to help them achieve their goal. However, this can be a veritable mine field due to the sheer number of products and the their constituent ingredients on offer.

To help you make a more informed decision when look at some of the most efficacious ingredients included in supplement formulations today which are backed by science to help optimise your fat-burning efforts or get that boost from pre-workout products.


Supplement Science: Caffeine

That’s right, your morning caffeine jolt does more than get your day off to the right start, it also provides huge benefits for fat loss and enhanced performance. Consuming caffeine is a great way to get a mental boost and it also enhances lipolysis (fat burning). Caffeine does this by binding to receptors found on fat cells which maximises the release of stored fat for use by the body as an energy-dense fuel source, especially when consumed prior to exercise. Apart from that, caffeine is also a stimulant and provides a temporary boost in mental alertness during workouts or races. This helps to reduce feelings of perceived exertion, ensuring users can maximise their efforts in the gym or out on the road. However, regular coffee drinkers and supplement users beware! The energy-boosting effects of caffeine will diminish over time as our bodies develop a tolerance to the substance. It is therefore recommended that caffeine use be cycled. According to available science (Heckman, M. A., Weil, J. and De Mejia, E. G., 2010) doses of between 200-400mg of caffeine a day can be consumed, spread over 3-4 doses, one of which should be taken 30-60 minutes prior to exercise for the best effect. If you’re new to caffeine use, start with lower doses and work your way up to test your tolerance levels. Also, consult with your doctor if you have any heart or cardiovascular conditions before engaging in supplemental use though.

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