Gateway Health News

Athletic Performance (Strength)

Athletic Performance (Strength)

Numerous studies appear to support the value of l-arginine for athletes. It is necessary
for production of various compounds needed for muscular energy production including
creatine phosphate, guanidophosphate and phosphoarginine. Arginine is also required
for the transport, storage and elimination of nitrogen, an action that is thought to be
key in promoting efficient muscle metabolism.

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
BCAAs are needed for the maintenance of muscle tissue and appear to preserve muscle
stores of glycogen (a storage form of carbohydrate that can be converted into energy).
BCAAs also help prevent muscle protein breakdown during exercise.

Glutamine has been shown to improve nitrogen balance, increase protein synthesis, and
decrease muscle catabolism. Research also suggests that glutamine may elevate human
growth hormone secretion. Theoretically this means faster recovery for both the
endurance and strength athlete, along with faster muscle growth. Since glutamine also
plays a role in the integrity of the immune system by acting as a key substrate for both
lymphocytes and macrophages, supplementing with glutamine may help keep the
immune system strong and decrease the risk of infection during frequent, intense, or
lengthy training sessions.

The body uses both aerobic and anaerobic systems for creating energy. The aerobic
system supplies fuel for sustained energy expenditure, while the anaerobic system
powers short bursts of energy output, like sprinting and weight lifting. Creatine is a
natural compound that is converted by the body into creatine phosphate and used
anaerobically for brief bursts of energy. When the bond between creatine and the
phosphate is broken, energy is released to power muscles. Over 40 clinical trials have
found that creatine is supportive in short-duration high intensity athletic performance.

Although recent research does not support the claim that ornithine supplementation
can increase growth hormone release, as was first thought, studies suggest that it may
still be valuable for strength athletes. Gains in strength and muscle size were reported
in one study, despite no increase in growth hormone being noted. Through its
conversion into arginine, ornithine may enhance the transport and storage of nitrogen
in muscle tissue, as well as improving muscular energy through influencing the
production of creatine phosphate. Strength training subjects taking arginine and
ornithine in combination appear to excrete less of the metabolic markers of tissue
breakdown in their urine, a factor that would appear to indicate an increase in muscle

Phosphatidylserine (PS)
It appears that PS lowers levels of cortisol, a catabolic hormone that can speed the
breakdown of muscle tissue. This is especially beneficial to athletes involved in
bodybuilding and other forms of athletic training. PS may also offer protection against
the effects of overtraining syndrome often seen in professional athletes.

Athletic Performance Overview

Nutrient/Herb Typical intake range
L-Arginine1,5 1000 – 4000mg per day (empty stomach)
BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, valine)2 500 – 1000mg of each per day
L-Glutamine3 500 – 5000mg per day (empty stomach)
Creatine4 1000-5000mg per day
L-Ornithine5 500 – 2000mg per day (empty stomach)
Phosphatidylserine (PS)6 100 – 400mg per day (empty stomach)

Saturated fats
Trans/hydrogenated fats
Refined/processed foods
Caffeinated beverages
Pesticide exposure
Artificial additives/preservatives

Complex carbohydrates
High quality proteins
Nuts and seeds
Oily fish

Lifestyle Factors
Build adequate rest time in training programme – avoid over-training
Ensure adequate sleep to aid recovery from intense training
Build up training slowly to allow for physical and physiological changes to keep up with
exercise intensity
Ensure sufficient calorie intake to cover energy needs
Minimise impact of stress (Cortisol slows tissue repair, suppresses the immune system and
promotes muscle protein breakdown)

1. Arginine is not advised with NSAIDs, platelet inhibitors, alendronate, theophylline products, oral
or injectable corticosteroids. Caution should be exercised with potassium sparing diuretics and
ACE inhibitors. May increase absorption of Ibuprofen, may potentiate effect of impotence drugs.
Not to be taken by schizophrenics, pregnant or nursing women and those suffering renal or
hepatic failure.
2. May interfere with levodopa and other anti-Parkinsons medications. Theoretically very high
doses of BCAAs could interfere with the uptake of l-phenylalanine and l-tyrosine into the brain.
Pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid BCAA supplementation.
3. High dosages of glutamine may affect anticonvulsant medication. Avoid if sensitive to
monosodium glutamate or suffering kidney or liver problems
4. Individuals with kidney disease should not use creatine unless under medical supervision.
5. Do not use if taking prescribed anti-coagulant drugs such as warfarin without the consent of a
qualified medical