Minimal Supplementation for Combat Sports

There are numerous supplements available on the market and every athlete my prefer one or another depending his personal needs, style of training and performance demands. The purpose of this article is to answer numerous question about supplementation I get from my students, and describes the bare minimum of supplements I consider basic  and use as addition to my food. However no supplement can substitute hard work and proper diet.

Multivitamines: Each cell in our body relies on biochemical reactions for proper metabolism, growth, and recovery from strenuous exercise. These reactions rely on specific vitamins and minerals to facilitate their actions. Failure to supply the body with adequate levels of these nutrients will lead to decreased performance levels. Energy production and muscular growth rely heavily on specific vitamins and minerals. Without vitamins, muscle mass will decay, bone density deteriorates and body systems will fail. Intense workouts deplete valuable nutrients in the body. For the human body to perform at its maximum potential, it requires a vast and complex array of vital nutrients.

Fish Oil: Fish Oil contain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in oils from certain types of fish, vegetables, and other plant sources. These fatty acids are not made by the body and must be consumed in the diet. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids work by lowering the body’s production of triglycerides. High levels of triglycerides can lead to coronary artery disease, heart disease, and stroke. Omega 3 protects the joints and support cognitive function.

Calcium: Calcium is a building element in the bones and when supplemented may help increase bone and skeletal strength.

Magnesium: Magnesium supports healthy muscle function, contraction and relaxation. It is known to help relaxation of muscle cramps.

Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an important vitamin required for the proper function of many organs in the body. It is also an antioxidant. This means it helps to slow down processes that damage cells. Supports the heart function.

Creatine Monohydrate: Creatine monohydrate induces an increase in body mass while increasing muscular energy reserves. Creatine augments energy levels by increasing the availability of ATP, the organic compound that yields energy for muscular contraction. Fighters need to be careful when supplementing with Creatine as it can cause moderate weight gain due to water retention by the skeletal muscle. Creatine (if used correctly) can increase strength and explosive power. It can help you get more out of your workout while increasing recovery rates. Fighters should only supplement with 3-5 grams per day. I recommend taking a very small amount prior to your anaerobic training sessions. If you supplement Creatine correctly, you will not gain weight. Experiment in between bouts or during off-season training. Recent studies show that Creatine might help in cognitive function and concussion effects.
Great source to learn more about Creatine I recommend to follow Dr. Scott Forbes publications.

Amino Acids: Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. The human body needs 22 different amino acids. These amino acids produce all of the large protein molecules that keep you alive. Amino acids make the enzymes, hormones and neurotransmitters that help to regulate your body. Of the 22 amino acids, 9 are essential. These 9 essential amino acids MUST be consumed through your diet. If you lack these 9 essential amino acids, your body will not properly rebuild important muscle fibers.
When we train intensely, we break down muscle fiber. We must immediately fuel these muscle fibers with protein to ensure adequate growth and recovery. There are 3 Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) that are particularly important for your recovery phase following exercise. The 3 BCAAs are Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. These BCAAs must come from your diet. The best time to supplement BCAAs is immediately before and after exercise. By fueling your body with Branched Chain Amino Acids you will prevent muscle damage, thus enhance your ability to sustain intense training levels. Always remember that your protein intake increases in proportion to the intensity of your training.

Glutamine: Glutamine (also known as L-Glutamine) is the most abundant single amino acid in the blood. It is also the most abundant amino acid inside our muscle tissue. Glutamine comprises over 60% of the amino acid pool in skeletal muscle. It delivers muscle-building nitrogen into muscle cells where it is synthesized for growth. Glutamine has been proven to assist in muscle growth while preventing muscle tissue breakdown. When we train hard, our Glutamine levels drastically drop. Our Glutamine concentrations remain low until the recovery process is complete. This process varies in length depending on the intensity of our workout.
When we conduct an intense workout, much of our Glutamine is drawn from our muscle tissue. We are prone to soreness and slow recovery rates. So what is the solution? The solution is to supplement with Glutamine following your workout. By supplementing this amino acid, we counteract the drop in muscle protein synthesis. You will experience faster recovery rates. By improving recovery rates, you can say goodbye to soreness. When we overcome soreness, we are able to train harder, thus realize greater improvements in our physical condition.
I recommend supplementing with Glutamine immediately following your intense training session. 

Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an essential nutrient involved in the repair of tissue and the enzymatic production of certain neurotransmitters. It is required for the functioning of several enzymes and is important for immune system function. It also functions as an antioxidant.

My basic supplementation schedule looks like this:

Fish Oil
Calcium + Magnesium

Vitamin E
Fish Oil
Calcium + Magnesium

Before training:
Creatine Monohydrate
Amino Acids

After training:

Dinner (before sleep):
Vitamin C

Before taking any supplements make sure to consult with your physician.
My personal primary sources to learn more about the subject is The Fight Dietitian website or Instagram feed and WADA resources.

1.  The Fight Dietitian website
2. The Fight Dietitian Instagram
3. Dr. Scott Forbes publications.
4. Ross
5. World Anti-Doping Agency

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