Nutritional Ergogenic Agents

Taking performance-enhancing supplements is a personal choice. Table 14-1 lists some popular ergogenic agents grouped by type (identified in bold), the research findings, and the potential side effects. However, this list is not complete as new supplements enter the market regularly. This table is designed to educate you as a consumer. Many of the ergogenic agents listed are classified as nutritional supplements. When marketed as a nutritional supplement, these substances are not regulated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Often this means that the performance claims and the risks associated with using these substances have not been thoroughly tested.

Other sources of information include the Ergogenics Pamphlet (http:// www.usuhs.mil/mim/ergopam.pdf); the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms web site at http://www.ATF.treas.gov; the Federal Drug Agency at http:// www.fda.gov (select the "Food" icon); and the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.ftc.gov (search "consumer publications"). Be aware of substances that are banned by the military and various athletic associations.

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Type / Examples

Benefits / Risks / Side Effects

Energy Enhancers

Inosine, Coenzyme Q10 (COQ10), Desiccated Liver, Bee Pollen

No benefits demonstrated; some may increase free radical production or cause allergic reactions.

Fat Burners / Lean Body Mass Enhancers

L-Carnitine, Gamma Oryzanol, Ferulic Acid, Hydroxy-Methyl-Butyrate (HMB), Chromium Picolinate

No benefits demonstrated for many in this class. For HMB and chromium the research is inconclusive. Some may cause nausea, vomiting, cramps, and anemia. Chromium may cause DNA damage.

Growth Hormone (GH) Releasers

Arginine, Lysine, Ornithine, Branched chain Amino Acids (Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine), Free Amino Acids, Dibencozide, Cobamamide

Some benefits for Arginine, Lysine, and branched chain amino acids, but not the others. All may cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset, diarrhea, cramping, potential amino acid imbalances, and decreases in GH.

CHO Sparers

40-30-30, high fat/protein diets; Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT); Ginseng; Lactate; Caffeine; Choline.

Some benefits reported for the diets; such diets may raise blood cholesterol and be a risk for heart disease. Some performance benefits for lactate and caffeine. No benefit demonstrated for others. Some may cause GI upset, allergic reactions, excitability, irritability, tremors, loss of concentration, nausea, and diarrhea.

Testosterone Enhancers

Glandulars (grounded organs); Sapogenins (Smilax, Diascorea, Trillium, Yucca, Sarsaparilla); Yohimbine; Boron; DHEA; Androstenedione, Andro, Androstenediol, Norandrostenediol; Steroids and steroid alternatives.

No benefits demonstrated; may cause testosterone production to decline and shrinking of the testicles; may cause light-headedness, aggression, nausea, vomiting, headaches, depression, lethargy, rashes, acne, and virilization in females. Some may increase risk of developing cancer. Andro group and other steroid alternatives are banned by the military.

Intercellular Buffers

Phosphate Salts; Aspartate Salts (Magnesium/ Potassium); Citrate; Sodium Bicarbonate.

Some benefits demonstrated for citrate and sodium bicarbonate, benefits are questionable for others. May cause GI upset, diarrhea, nausea, and cramps.

Octacosanol (Wheat Germ Oil)

Some benefits demonstrated in reaction times but not aerobic capacity; may cause allergic reactions.

Glycerol

No benefits demonstrated; may cause cellular dehydration, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Table 14-1. Claims and Risks of Ergogenic Agents

Type / Examples

Benefits / Risks / Side Effects

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

No ergogenic effects have been demonstrated.

Creatine

Some performance benefits demonstrated during short-term, high intensity exercise, but benefits are negated if taken with caffeine.

Tyrosine

Some performance benefits demonstrated in mental tasks.

Glutamine

No performance benefits demonstrated.

Glucosamine Sulfate with Chondroitin Sulphate

Has potential for preventing and treating injuries, however is not endorsed by doctors due to the lack of research.

Melatonin

Benefits demonstrated; may cause sleepiness and fatigue at time of ingestion, but not upon awakening.

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