Supplements in Sports

Q&A for Session #3

Evidence Based Supplements in Sports Nutrition
Sports Nutrition Symposium 4.0
Tuesday January 18th, 2022 @ 12 pm CST

Tim N Ziegenfuss, PhD, CSCS, FISSN

Confused about which supplements work and which do not? This webinar has the answers!

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  • Does caffeine, citric acid, others interfere with effectiveness of creatine absorption?
    • Great question. Five years ago or so, I would have said no because the initial studies that were done dissolved creatine in coffee or tea, which already contain caffeine. Then, a number of studies came out that coingested creatine and caffeine (higher doses than in coffee or tea), that had some potential for competition, but only at higher doses of caffeine.

  • Noting that creatine increases muscle glycogen,do you know of any evidence in diabetes management to help reduce hyperglycemia?
    • What a great question. I am not prepared to answer, but I will say that I wouldnt be suprised at all if creatine has beneficial effects on not only glucose management, but also blood lipid management as well based on its biochemistry.

  • Do you know the safety of recommending creatine supplements for those under the age of 18?
    • 1) Look at the position paper that the ISSM published. Creatine has been used clinically (IV creatine) in certain brain conditions already. 2) Dietary creatine ingested at 1-2 grams per day. So in young athletes, if you would use a low dose (3 gram or less per day) that's only doubling the amount that adolescents are already eating on a normal day. As a sports scientist, I have no concerns about using creatine monohydrate at 3 grams per day or less in adolescents.

  • Do you think it’s important to emphasize importance of increasing fluid intake though with creatine? Although you have noted it does not cause dehydration, just increasing protein in general would increase fluid needs, so do you recommend increasing fluid with the supplement?
    • Sure, yes that is a common recommendation. Some people are prone to bloating. Data does not prove to be true that creatine causes bloating or dehydration, but it doesn't mean that someone won't get those side effects or cause individuals problems. You need to fine tune it. Any ingestion of a little extra water is a good idea.

  • If you're sensitive to caffeine, is b-alanine supplement a good alternative because it's not caffeine but provides that energy during a workout?
    • Beta alanine doesn't really provide energy per say acutely. You have to load with it. You need about 180 grams total dose. Check your product. I don't really consider it to be an energy ingredent, it's a pH buffer. Some people dig the itch and the burn/tingle. It lets them know it's working. I don't see beta alanine as an alternative to cafeine because I don't think it promotes energy like caffeine does. Theacrine is a good caffeine alternative.

  • Has anyone looked at pairing beta-alanine with an antihistamine? The efficiency and safety?
    • Not that I know of and in fact beta alanine is combined with histadine in some cases, but not required (beta alanine is the rate limited precursor for carnosine synthesis).

  • For Betaine I haven’t found a lot of research or information - only found 2-4 studies and it seems it's related to its antioxidant load and activity. Any thoughts?
    • I would say look up Dr. Jason CHOLEWA. He published some recent work. There is emerging evidence. I personally find it very interesting and it is worth looking into more.

  • Always being individualized, are there positives/negatives in taking all of these at once?
    • I wouldn't necessarily combine creatine and caffeine (30-60 min pre-exercise). Nitrate is 2-3 hours before exercise so that is not a good paring. I am sure there are pre workouts that have all of these in them, but I don't think there are any negative interactions in terms of safety I just don't think it makes the most sense in terms of kinetics as to when those supplements may be taken in terms of benefits.

  • I heard you can only take creatine for a certain period of time (~3 months), then you need to give your body a rest from it for a while. Is this true?
    • 3-5 gram dose per day. I have been doing that since 1994. If you are taking 20 grams a day for loading, then drop back to 3-5 grams. Low dose is okay.

  • One of your slides recommended 30-40 g of casein (animal based) before bed, would you recommend the same amount of plant protein if the athlete prefers plant protein as long as all of the AA are present?
    • At least, dependent on the plant protein. Speaker likes plant protein blends for well known reasons. The speed of digestion is what is important, casein is slowly digested. The speed of digestion is what is important. that is why prior to bed casein is best. It needs to be a slowly digested protein. So, it needs to be a slow digesting plant protein as well. If the goal is performance it won't make a huge difference. If it is mass gain then it may make a slightly bigger difference.

  • Any sources of casein that are not from dairy products for those that have an allergy to dairy?
    • Great question. Speaker believes Casein hydrolysate is non dairy? He will find out.

  • Is there similar evidence in women - increases in MPS with amino acid doses and protein intake?
    • World renown protein experts, Dr. Arney Frando. Is there a difference in genders. No, there is not a consistent difference between men and women, but the more muscle mass you have then the higher protein dose required. Men generally have more mass then women.

  • Is it true that you can only take creatine for a certain amount of time and then you need to take a break?
    • Not that I know of. Safest way to use creatine is to use the 3-5g/day dose. Loading or taking 20g/day and then not dropping back to the 3-5g/day, may make a difference in safety. If you are taking a low dose daily then no need to load.

  • You mentioned that some nutrients can reduce the paraesthesia caused by beta alanine, could you give a couple examples?
    • Speaker has a patent out on that. It's just now coming out on the market. Betaprime is the name. There are some sports nutrition companies that are coming out with it. It's made to compliment beta alanine to be able to take a higher dose while minimizing the side effects.

  • Which of these supplementations are safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding?
    • Creatine definetly is safe for preganancy. Beta alanine and nitrate should be safe. Beutain should be okay. I don't see why any should be excluded during pregnancy. Talk with you doctor. Get the right product from the right company.

  • Regarding master’s athlete’s- is there a greater requirement of daily creatine use compared to the younger athlete to maintain LBM?
    • I think so based on some recent data. by Dr. Dan Cando and Scott Forbes in Canada. We don't know if its reduction in creatine transport or systemic bioavailbility of the creatine dose. I would change my dose recommendation in a Masters Athlete with normal kidney function (normal GFR and creatinine clearance) I would change my dose recommendation from 3-5g/day to 0.1 g/kg. Slightly higher for masters athletes.
  • Is there evidence to suggest timing of intake of creatine enhances results. (ie before strength session, before soccer practice, after etc..)?
    • Great question. In general no doesn't really matter as long as you just get it in. A single dose does not increase performance. The best time to take is either pre, during, or post workout because the muscle is sensitive to uptake. Non training days, take it with largest meal of the day because insulin is the other response, but exercise is more potent.

  • Can you get Nitrates from powdered greens supplements?
    • You can, but good luck asking for getting the content. It depends on when vegetables were harvested and how they were powdered. The process to process them effects nitrate content. It's possible to find out, but it is not a standardized product. The beet powders are standardized but they typically do not have a good taste.

  • Are there specific brands you would recommend for TeaCrine?
    • TeaCrine is a branded version of TheaCrine. So, there is no brand i would recommend over another.

  • Is creatine best absorbed when taken with some carbohydrate or is that outdated advice?
    • Creatine is almost fully absorped all by itself when just dissolved in water. The coingestion of creatine with carbohydrate causes an insulin response, which helps to increase creatine uptake in the muscle. That was early on in the creatine research, so you don't need carbohydate to stimulate creatine uptake if you take it pre, during, or post workout.

  • What’s your opinion on the efficacy of collagen supplementation for injury/post-op?
    • I love collagen and i put it in my coffee everyday. 10-15 grams in coffee per day then go to the gym. I dont think its good for muscle per say, but it is good for joint health, especially combined with 50 mg Vitamin C, which led to improvements in a number of different joint related outcome measures. Also great for hair, skin, and nails!