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Intra-workout supplements

A relative innovation in sports nutrition is nutritional supplements during training in intra-workout drinks.

Intra-workout supplements commonly feature branched-chain amino acids, essential amino acids or short-chain peptides derived from hydrolysed whey protein. These are for their rapid absorption and the body's high requirement for essential amino acids, especially BCAA's, during training. Advocates of intra-workout supplements argue that supplying these critical constituents of muscle tissue when blood flow to working muscles and muscle tissue breakdown is at a high level. Trainees can have a faster intra-set recovery and quicker recovery and less soreness the day after training.

Also, many intra-workout supplements will include nutrients such as beta-alanine (for improving muscle endurance), citrulline malate (a nitric oxide precursor and ergogenic aid particularly for aerobic activity) or nootropic complexes to enhance mood and combat stress. Anecdotal feedback suggests these products can be effective, particularly for advanced athletes.

Pre-Workout Supplements

Pre-workout supplements are designed to enhance anaerobic and aerobic power and muscular endurance, heighten mental stimulation and enhance recovery from exercise. In the past, athletes might use a cup of black coffee or caffeine tablets to boost performance. In recent years, the advances in sports nutrition mean that supplements combining a range of ergogenic aids within one product are extremely popular.

Commonly used nutrients included within pre-workout supplements include:

  • Stimulants such as caffeine, tyrosine, Dimethylamylamine, and Phenylethylamine.
  • Nitric Oxide Precursors - Commonly used nutrients include Arginine, Agmatine, Glycocarn, and Arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate.
  • Ergogenics - Nutrients such as Creatine, citrulline malate, and beta-alanine increase strength, endurance and aerobic capacity.
  • Amino Acids - The three Branched Chain Amino Acids are frequently found in pre-workout supplements.

Although appropriate for bodybuilders and recreational trainees, all athletes who compete in drug-tested sports should ensure that their pre-workout supplements abide by rules laid down by their governing bodies. Certain ingredients will be legal yet not permitted by athletic bodies. Popular brands include Optimum Nutrition and GHOST supplements


Some of the supplements detailed below are banned in some sports. The current prohibited list of supplements is available from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

You can either browse the contents or select, from the alphabetical links below, the required list to review



  • Alcohol is a depressant drug that will induce relaxation and reduce anxiety at low doses. It is used in sports where even a slight twitch in action will impede performance, such as Archery or Snooker. In higher doses, it will significantly reduce coordination and impede training recovery. At seven calories a gram, alcohol will soon cause athletes to put on weight if consumed in excess. However, the body's inability to store the alcohol itself means the extra weight gained will result from food consumed in conjunction with alcohol, not the alcohol itself. With harmful effects on the liver at high doses, alcohol intake for athletes should be monitored carefully.


  • Amphetamines are potent central nervous stimulants which have been abused widely in the past to boost athletic performance. However, they can increase body temperature and cause dehydration and were linked to the deaths of athletes such as Tommy Simpson, a cyclist from Great Britain. They are a controlled drug and banned by all international sporting bodies.

Anabolic Steroids

  • Anabolic steroids are used to increase muscle mass and strength.
  • If over-used, it can cause heart, liver, and immune system problems. Blood cholesterol levels often increase because steroid use changes how sugars and fats are handled. This and increased blood pressure can lead to the early development of heart disease, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Tendons and ligaments may not strengthen at the same rate the muscle tissue develops. As a result, these muscle tissues appear to be injured more often among steroid users.
  • Oily skin and acne are also common among steroid users.
  • Behaviour changes may include aggression, paranoia, mood swings, low sex drive, and depression.
  • Men's testicles shrink, the prostate gland enlarges, and sperm levels drop.
  • Female athletes may take on more male-like characteristics, such as broader backs, wider shoulders, thicker waists, flatter chests, more body and facial hair and deeper voices. Menstrual cycles may become irregular or stop.
  • For adolescent athletes, steroid use may cause the growth plates in long bones to close faster than usual, resulting in reduced height.


  • Androstenedione was the first prohormone marketed to the public, introduced in the late '90s. It briefly rose to prominence on the back of the baseball player Mark McGwire used it. Although, Androstenedione was a popular seller, its capacity to increase estrogen as high as testosterone led to its falling out of favour rapidly as more efficient compounds came onto the market. It was later scheduled by the US authorities and is no longer available.


  • An antioxidant is any compound which can combat oxidative damage in the body induced by free radical damage. Their promotion as substances to fight age-related damage is widespread in the popular and health-related media. Although studies support their use in preventing some disease states, many large clinical trials cast doubt on the effectiveness of antioxidants, with some suggesting they may even do more harm than good.[1] With so much conflicting data, the one thing that is generally agreed on is that the lower incidence of disease experienced by people eating a wide range of fruit and vegetables may have more to do with bioflavonoids in the food, rather than the role of one particular antioxidant such as Vitamin C or Vitamin E.
    1. Stanner SA, Hughes J, Kelly CN, Buttriss J (2004) "A review of the epidemiological evidence for the 'antioxidant hypothesis'". Public Health Nutr 7 (3): 40722.

Arginine, ornithine, lysine

  • These three compounds are free to form amino acids marketed for years as having growth hormone releasing properties.
  • However, the evidence for their use is sketchy at best - even exogenous growth hormone administration has a relatively little immediate effect. The argument that these three will do much is tenuous at best.


  • Increases free fatty acid use, sparing muscle glycogen


  • Aspirin is a common painkiller used by athletes to deal with training-related pain. Its anti-inflammatory actions may give it a useful purpose. Athletes should be aware that they may lessen the body's adaptive response to the inflammatory stress imposed by training by taking this after their training sessions. It is also an anti-coagulant, meaning it will make the blood thinner, hence its adoption as a strategy to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis when flying on long-haul flights.

Avena Sativa

  • Avena Sativa, better known as wild oat, has been on the bodybuilding scene for a considerable time. It has been shown to increase free testosterone levels by enhancing LH levels. A 1986 study with volunteers who expressed interest in improving their sexual response showed men experienced a 22% increase in genital sensation and women a 15% increase after using Avena Sativa. A follow-up study showed men experienced increased sex drive, enhanced erections and more pleasure during sex when taking Avena Sativa. Avena Sativa is often found in conjunction with Tribulus as they appear to work via similar mechanisms and can be found in many bodybuilding formulas.

Bee pollen

  • Despite previous claims that bee pollen could have an ergogenic effect, recent evidence suggests it has no benefit for athletes. [1][2] This old-school supplement has mostly fallen out of favour in the modern-day.
    1. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness vol 18, pp221-226, 1978
    2. Journal of the National Athletic Trainers Association, vol 11, p 124, Fall 1976


  • Beta-Alanine is a non-essential amino acid that combines with histidine to produce carnosine. Carnosine is found at a high level in type 2 muscle fibres, acting as an intracellular buffer. By increasing carnosine levels, explosive activities should be enhanced, and several university studies demonstrate that Beta-Alanine helping to improve athletic performance.


  • Betab-lockers decrease anxiety and have a positive effect on fine motor control, but a negatively effect on aerobic capacity.

Beta2 agonists

  • Beta 2 Agonists include drugs such as Clenbuterol, Salbutamol and Ephedrine. Medically these drugs are used to reduce the symptoms caused by asthma, but their use in oral form has fallen markedly since the introduction of inhalers. They are used predominantly by athletes seeking to enhance fat loss (via their thermogenic effects) and strength (via their stimulant effects). Although animal studies have reported lean muscle gains attributed to Clenbuterol, this has never been shown to be the case in humans. The dosages used in animal studies would be enough to kill people so it would be impractical. These drugs are all banned by major sporting bodies.

Blood Doping

  • Blood doping involves athletes taking a certain amount of blood out of their systems. Later, when their bodies had made up for the blood taken out, they were injected back into their system after the blood was kept refrigerated in the meantime. This practice would increase red blood cell count allowing blood doping to improve sports performance requiring high levels of aerobic activity. It was a dangerous practice, though, and risks of infection and heart trouble were relatively high, as well as very inconvenient having to keep the blood stored in a fridge. In the modern era, blood doping has mostly been replaced by the drug Erythropoietin (EPO).


  • Boron is a trace mineral frequently found in many supplements in the '80s and '90s, based on the belief it would increase testosterone levels. Post-Menopausal women supplemented with Boron showed increased blood levels of testosterone in one study. [1] However, it is a large stretch to suppose that supra-physiological amounts will increase testosterone production once adequate Boron status is reached. A more recent review [2] of recent studies conducted into the effects on Boron with male weight trainers showed no influence whatsoever on testosterone levels after the use of Boron. Given that most minerals help correct deficiencies only and the experience of millions of bodybuilders from the past, we can discount the idea of any anabolic properties attributable to Boron.
    1. Nielsen FH, et al. Effect of dietary boron on mineral, estrogen, and testosterone metabolism in postmenopausal women (1987)
    2. Nancy R. Green, Department of Nutrition and Food Science, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama; and Arny A. Ferrando, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas

Branched-chain amino acids - BCAA

  • The three branched-chain amino acids are Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. These three essential amino acids comprise a large part of muscle tissue and are frequently recommended to athletes to enhance recovery from training. One study on branched-chain amino acids showed they could improve fat loss while keeping performance up in calorie-restricted elite wrestlers. [1]
    1. Mourier A, Bigard AX, de Kerviler E, Roger B, Legrand H, Guezennec CY. Int J Sports Med. 1997 Jan;18(1):47-55.


  • Caffeine is a central nervous stimulant with mild diuretic properties, found naturally in coffee, tea, many soda drinks and chocolate. It is often used by athletes as a pre-workout stimulant and appetite suppressant and is found in many products designed to aid in fat loss. Overuse or taking this too late in the day can affect sleep patterns, and removing caffeine from a diet heavy in caffeine can frequently lead to withdrawal symptoms such as headaches. Caffeine enhances the contractility of skeletal and cardiac muscle and helps metabolise fat, thereby sparing muscle glycogen stores. Side effects can include irritability, restlessness, diarrhoea, insomnia, and anxiety.


  • Calcium is a mineral essential for bone formation and is involved in muscle contraction. Widely found in dairy products, it is nevertheless supplemented widely due to the body's high calcium demands. In particular, older females may be deficient in this mineral, which is widely supplemented to ameliorate osteoporosis symptoms.



  • Carnitine is used to decrease fat and increase muscle mass


  • Casein is a milk protein and has been shown to have a slower rate of amino acid release than whey protein, making it a popular choice of protein to be drunk at night time. It is also frequently found in blended protein products where the theory is that whey protein will offer fast release.


  • Clenbuterol affects the central nervous system, growth, muscle, and body fat.
  • The side effects include tremors, anxiety, faster heart rate, nausea, anorexia, insomnia, heart attack, or stroke.


  • Marketed as a superfood, high in protein, nutrients and minerals, Chlorella is a type of green algae with a long history of use, since at least the early part of the 20th century and was previously viewed as a possible solution to world population growth due to the fact it provides a diversity of nutrients at a low cost. It has fallen out of favour somewhat in recent years.


  • Increases endurance
  • See the following page for more on Choline.


  • Chromium is used to decrease fat and increase muscle mass


  • Inhibits aromatase, increases endogenous steroids

Citrulline Malate

  • Citrulline Malate combines the non-essential amino acid Citrulline and Malate, an apple derivative. Studies[1] have shown that citrulline malate supplementation improved aerobic performance in basketball players. Its use has gradually grown among endurance and non-endurance athletes such as bodybuilders, attracted to its ability to increase nitric oxide production. It has been promoted as the endurance athlete's equivalent of creatine, enhancing aerobic performance, whereas creatine increases anaerobic performance.
    1. Janeira, M. A., Maia, J. R., & Santos, P. J. (1998) Citrulline malate effects on the aerobic-anaerobic threshold and in post-exercise blood lactate recovery. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 30(5), Supplement abstract 880.


  • Stimulates CNS, delays fatigue

Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone)

  • Delays fatigue, acts as an antioxidant

Coenzyme Q12

  • Increases aerobic capacity, speeds muscle repair

Conjugated Linoleic Acid

  • Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a naturally occurring fatty acid shown in studies to have a fat-burning and antioxidant effect[1]. Studies used up to 3.4g of CLA to cause a fat-burning effect. As it is only found in small amounts in our diets, mainly in dairy products, only by consuming this in supplement form would users be able to take in enough to achieve the levels used in studies showing its effectiveness in burning fat?
    1. Thom E, Wadstein J, Gudmundsen O. (Sep-Oct 2001) "Conjugated linoleic acid reduces body fat in healthy exercising humans". The Journal of International Medical Research 29 (5): 392-396

Creatine Monohydrate

  • Increases muscle energy, endurance, strength and lean muscle mass.
  • See the following page for more on Creatine.

Creatine Ethyl Ester

  • This new form of creatine is marketed as superior to creatine monohydrate. Although this is not proven, anecdotally, it seems to cause less bloating and be more tolerable for some people.


  • Divanil is a lignan found in stinging nettle roots, is a relative newcomer to the testosterone boosting category, and has many impressive user reports to merit further analysis. There is a relative lack of research into Divanil. We have research supporting the theory that Divanil can bind to the sex hormone-binding globulin factor (SHGB), which will increase free testosterone. Anecdotal feedback from bodybuilders taking either Divanil or Divanil-containing products suggests it can raise libido, increase aggression and strength, increase muscle mass, and decrease muscle body fat. Dosages vary, but most people take this product as part of a formula such as the Activate Xtreme as mentioned earlier.

DHEA - Dehydroepiandrosterone

  • Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a steroid hormone which can undergo conversion to both testosterone and estrogen - essentially, it is a prohormone. Widely sold in the United States as a supplement, it is usually beneficial only to older people whose DHEA levels decline with age (around 30). DHEA is a controlled substance in most countries outside the US and is banned by the IOC and IAAF. Even there, its estrogenic effects make many baulks at taking this compound.


  • This is a type of sugar marketed to athletes to enhance exercise performance. And quite popular in the early 2000s, but its usage has fallen. No study has shown its effectiveness in improving sports performance in healthy populations.


  • Diuretics are any compound which helps the user to shed water weight fast. Although they have a legitimate medical use for people suffering from Edema, they are abused by athletes looking to drop weight quickly, mainly those who participate in sports with weight classes such as wrestling and weightlifting. Many athletes have died as a result of diuretic use. Some supplements, such as caffeine or vitamin C will have a natural diuretic effect. Prescription drugs such as Aldactone and Furosemide will work in a much more powerful way and pose a real danger to the athlete's health.

Ephedrine Hydrochloride

  • Ephedrine Hydrochloride is a beta-agonist, which means it will increase heart rate, and blood pressure and suppress appetite as a potent stimulant. Athletes popularly use it either as a pre-workout stimulant or to suppress hunger when dieting. It has also been shown to spare lean body mass when dieting. Ephedrine is classed as a drug now, and illegal to supply as a nutritional supplement.


  • Erythropoietin – Better known as EPO, Erythropoietin is a drug used to treat anaemia by increasing red blood cell count. It has replaced the practice of blood doping used in sports during the 70s and 80s. Its use has been attributed by many to the increasingly faster times set in long-distance aerobic sports such as running, and cycling, where its use has become synonymous with the sport. EPO use has been shown to increase the risk of death due to blood coagulation, causing heart attacks, as the increased red blood cell count makes the blood much thicker than usual. Many professional athletes' deaths have been blamed on EPO.

Fat supplements

  • Increase endurance


  • Fenugreek is grown across the globe and has been used for a long time as an ingredient in Indian cuisine. It has been shown to stimulate appetite, as anyone who has eaten curries will probably attest to. Beyond some trials conducted by sports nutrition companies, no research shows it can confer significant benefits for athletes. With so many effective testosterone boosters, Fenugreek use has fallen out of favour in recent years.

Folic acid

  • Increases aerobic capacity


  • Forskolin has been postulated to enhance testosterone in the body through its ability to enhance 3,5 cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) levels. By enhancing cAMP levels, higher luteinizing hormone (LH) levels can lead to higher testosterone levels in users of Forskolin. The theory is backed up by studies showing that using Forskolin led to higher testosterone levels, increased lean body mass and lowered body fat in subjects using Forskolin[1,2]. Forskolin is found in many bodybuilding supplements, so those interested in taking this lack the option to try it.
    1. Michael P. Godard, Brad A. Johnson and Scott R. Richmond - Body Composition and Hormonal Adaptations Associated with Forskolin Consumption in Overweight and Obese Men
    2. Badmaev, V., Majeed, M., Conte, A. A., Parker, JE. 2002, Diterpene forskolin (Coleus forskohlii Benth.): a possible new compound for reduction of body weight by increasing lean body mass

Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid - GHB

  • GHB is found in numerous dietary supplements for bodybuilding, weight loss, and sleep aids.
  • Side effects can be breathing problems, a coma, vomiting, seizures and sometimes death.

Geranium Extract

  • Commonly referred to as Geranamine, the Geranium extract was first introduced as part of the product AMP. It is a notably powerful stimulant that can increase energy and suppress appetite leading to its widespread introduction of different fat loss products.


  • Stimulates growth hormone release and muscle growth


  • Increases endurance, enhances muscle recovery
  • Side effects include - diarrhoea, skin rashes, nervousness, hypertension and sleeplessness

Glandular Extracts

  • Popular in developing countries and widely marketed to the naive, glandular extracts are supposed to confer benefits based on what is ingested. So, by consuming bull testicles, the promoters of such products promised increased testosterone and masculinity. They are widely accepted in the nutritional community as nothing more than snake oil with no benefits whatsoever.


  • Serves as NSAID alternative, enhances recovery


  • Boosts immunity and growth hormone levels
  • Further reading: "The effects of oral glutamine supplementation on athletes after prolonged exhaustive exercise", Nutrition, Vol 13 (7-8) pp. 738-742. 1997


  • Improves hydration and endurance
  • Further reading: "Effect of Glycerol feeding on endurance and metabolism during prolonged exercise in man", Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Vol 15, pp. 237-242, 1983.

Green Tea Extract

  • Green Tea is well known for its antioxidant effects. Less well known is its ability to increase thermogenesis and suppress appetite. This combination of effects makes green tea extract an increasingly popular ingredient in nutritional supplements owing to its diverse range of beneficial effects.

Guarana (herbal caffeine)

Hempseed Oil

  • This oil is a well-balanced blend of omega-3 and omega-6 oils, making it an excellent choice for individuals whose diet lacks these essential fatty acids. Despite the source, it has no drug-like effects.


  • This alkaloid of Phenylethylamine has been shown to increase norepinephrine release. It is commonly found in many sports supplements, usually acting in synergy with Phenylethylamine.

Hydroxymethylbutyrate - HMB

  • Hydroxymethylbutyrate is used to decrease fat and increase muscle mass.
  • Further reading: Nissen S, et al. (1996), "The effect of the leucine metabolite HMB on muscle metabolism during resistance exercise training", Journal of applied physiology, 81 (5), pp 2095-2104

Human growth hormone - HGH

  • Human growth hormone is used to decrease fat and increase muscle mass.
  • The side effects are heart and nerve diseases, glucose intolerance, and higher blood fat levels.


  • It enhances energy production and improves aerobic capacity.


  • Increases aerobic capacity


  • Decreases muscle breakdown and spare muscle glycogen stores

Ma huang (herbal ephedrine)

  • This Chinese herb is standardized to 8% ephedrine hydrochloride and was a popular weight loss aid, although its effects were less consistent than ephedrine hydrochloride. Its usage has been banned as a weight loss aid in recent years.

Maca Extract

  • Maca, also known as Lepidium meyenii, is a plant widely used as a herbal tonic in South America. It was said to be fed to Inca warriors before battle to make them ferocious and very virile, to such an extent that women had to be protected from them! [1] Doubtless, that story is overblown, and given that these tribes also frequently indulged in coca leaf (used to make cocaine), perhaps other factors were more important in this story. Trials conducted in the modern day have shown that Maca can increase libido and improve seminal volume in men.[2,3] Widely eaten in modern-day Peru, Maca has not been shown to increase testosterone levels in any research to date. Indeed, one small trial showed that while it increased libido in most men, it decreased testosterone levels in more men than it increased testosterone.[4]
    1. Downie, Andrew. "On a Remote Path to Cures" New York Times. January 1, 2008.
    2. Gonzales, GF.; Cordova A., Vega K., Chung A., Villena A., Gonez C. and Castillo S. (2002) "Effect of Lepidium meyenii (maca) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in healthy adult men
    3. Gonzales, GF; Cordova A., Gonzales C., Chung A., Vega K. and Villena A. (2001) "Lepidium meyenii (maca) improved semen parameters in adult men"


  • Magnesium is required for more than 300 biological reactions in the body, including those involved in the synthesis of fat, protein, and nucleic acids, neurological activity, muscular contraction and relaxation, cardiac activity and bone metabolism. Even more important for athletes is magnesium's pivotal role in both anaerobic and aerobic energy production, particularly in the metabolism of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the 'energy currency' of the body. The synthesis of ATP requires magnesium-dependent enzymes called 'ATPases'. These enzymes have to work extremely hard; the average human can store no more than about 3oz of ATR, yet during strenuous exercise, ATP turnover rate is phenomenal, with as much as 15kgs of ATP per hour being continually broken down and reformed.


  • Decreases anxiety.

Meal Replacement Products

  • Meal Replacement Products such as Myoplex by EAS or MET-Rx were created in the 1990s to essentially offer first-class nutrition in the form of a nutritious milkshake (although they can be mixed with water as well). They combine high protein levels with moderate levels of carbohydrates for energy, are typically low in fat, and offer a full complement of vitamins and minerals. Although some of the advertising was a little over the top, they are now widely adopted by most athletes, especially those who struggle to find the time to prepare food healthily.


  • It increases energy, endurance and aerobic capacity and enhances recovery.


  • Increase endurance by suppressing pain and decreasing anxiety.


  • Increases energy and endurance


  • Nitrate supplementation has been shown to enhance exercise tolerance and performance, reduce resting blood pressure, improve cognitive function, improve muscle recovery following eccentric exercise and reduce submaximal oxygen consumption.
  • Beetroot juice has been used in many studies.
  • Choline is an essential and versatile nutrient in beetroot that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory.
  • Further reading: JONES, A. M. (2014) Dietary Supplementation and Exercise Performance, Sports Med, 44 (1) p. 35-45

Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate

  • Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate (OKG) was a popular supplement in the 1990s based on research showing it could increase growth hormone output. Although useful, in theory, its expense meant few could afford to use it at the levels suggested, and it rapidly fell out of favour as results proved negligible.


  • Increases aerobic capacity and enhances recovery.


  • Phenylethylamine is a potent central nervous stimulant used widely to suppress appetite and increase energy before workouts. It is a popular ingredient in many bodybuilding supplements, designed to act as a fat burner. Phenylethylamine is found in small amounts in chocolate but has amphetamine-like effects in high doses.


  • Increase ATP production, energy and muscle endurance


  • Phosphatidylserine has been around for some time in sports nutrition, and its effects are lowering cortisol levels. It has been demonstrated in many studies that Phosphatidylserine can have a performance-enhancing effect, both by blunting cortisol response and enhancing exercise performance..[1,2] Supplements have been formulated to further enhance exercise performance by combining the use of Phosphatidylserine with other nutrients designed to lower cortisol.

    There is a lot of quality research on Phosphatidylserine (PS). Researchers have determined that PS is efficiently absorbed by healthy adults when taken as a supplement, and it is safe for at least six months at a dosage of at least 300 mg/day. There are holes in the research, but it appears that PS can be helpful for ADHD and several areas of cognitive function, especially memory. PS for enhancing sports performance also looks promising, though most of these studies were small (fewer than 25 subjects). For more information on the current research into Phosphatidylserine, see this link.
    1. Starks MA, Starks SL, Kingsley M, Purpura M, Jäger R. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2008 Jul 28;5:11.
    2. Kingsley M. Sports Med. 2006;36(8):657-69. Review.


  • Prohormones are substances with effects similar to anabolic steroids. They are precursors to anabolic steroids but are sold legally as food supplements. They can increase muscle mass, strength, and athletic performance, possibly. On the downside, they can cause the user to be at risk of a range of androgenic and estrogenic effects including aggravating hair loss, gynecomastia, as well as impacting negatively on health functions such as increasing LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and causing stress on the liver as these supplements are almost always in the oral form.


  • Stimulates the release of endogenous steroids and growth hormone

Protein supplements

  • Protein supplements are used to enhance muscle repair and growth. Inadequate protein intake does cause a negative nitrogen balance, slows muscle growth and causes fatigue. There are no notable adverse effects of increased protein consumption in an athlete with normal renal function.


  • Boosts antioxidant levels and enhances recovery.


  • Increases lean body mass.


  • Increases cellular ATP and muscle power


  • Enhances antioxidant functions


  • Sesamin is a lignan found in sesame seed oil, introduced recently to the bodybuilding world as a fat loss aid by the company Avant Labs, and is now made by many companies. It is marketed as a non-thermogenic fat loss aid with additional antioxidant properties and a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels. A typical dose would be 3 grams a day. One side effect users often experience with Sesamin is its propensity to exacerbate allergy symptoms.

Sodium bicarbonate

Testosterone Boosters

  • Testosterone boosters are any class of supplement that can raise the body's natural testosterone levels. They are distinct from anabolic steroids, which introduce male hormones in an exogenous fashion. Instead, testosterone boosters will usually act by either increasing testosterone directly or improving the bioavailability of testosterone - by binding SHBG, for instance, how Divanil works. By increasing testosterone naturally, it is hoped by users that testosterone boosters offer the advantages of increased strength and muscle mass conferred by anabolic steroids without adverse side effects. Plus, testosterone boosters are perfectly legal as they are not drugs but supplements, usually based on herbs, such as Divanil or Tribulus Terrestris, and minerals, such as Zinc.

Tribulus Terrestris

  • Increases endogenous steroid production.


  • Decreases pain perception and increases endurance.


  • Tyrosine is an amino acid of particular interest to those using other sports supplements designed to enhance energy because of its ability to act in synergy with stimulants to produce an improved energy level compared to taking either supplement by itself. Tyrosine use with stimulants such as caffeine is a cheap and effective way to increase exercise performance in short-duration anaerobic activities such as weightlifting.

Vanadyl sulfate

  • This is a mineral found in trace quantities in our diet, which was marketed as an insulin mimicking compound which could promote better glycogen storage but has fallen out of favour today.
  • Further reading: Fawcett, JP, et al. (1996). "The effect of oral vanadyl sulphate on body composition and performance in weight-training athletes". International Journal of Sports Nutrition, 6 (4), pp. 382-390)

Vitamin B1 (thiamin)

  • It enhances energy production, increases aerobic capacity, and improves concentration.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

  • Enhances muscle growth, decreases anxiety

Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)

  • Enhances muscle growth

Vitamin B15 (dimethylglycine)

  • Increases muscle energy production

Vitamin C

  • It acts as an antioxidant increasing aerobic capacity and energy production.

Vitamin E

  • It acts as an antioxidant and improves aerobic capacity.

Waxy Maize Starch

  • Waxy Maize Starch is a relatively new introduction to the sports nutrition field. It is a type of long-chain carbohydrate that has been shown in studies to replenish muscle glycogen stores faster than simple sugars such as glucose or dextrose. This makes it valuable for athletes seeking to accelerate recovery from exercise. It is vital for athletes training more than once a day or those whose training depletes glycogen heavily, such as endurance athletes. Anaerobic athletes will often use waxy maize starch combined with creatine, and free-form amino acids in supplements to promote the simultaneous replenishment of glycogen, protein and creatine. This offers an added benefit over waxy maize alone by targeting muscular and phosphate recovery and just glycogen replenishment.

Whey Protein

  • Whey Protein has the highest biological value of all proteins, making it highly prized by athletes. There are many different Whey protein types with whey concentrate, and whey isolate is found most often in popular protein powders available in bodybuilding supplement stores.


  • Yohimbe, or its pharmaceutical form, Yohimbine Hcl, is one of the oldest and most well-known aphrodisiacs. It owes its reputation to its abilities as a vasodilator, widening blood vessels and increasing blood flow to sexual organs. It has also been widely touted as a novel supplement to aid with burning stubborn, hard-to-remove body fat, mostly lower body fat. It is recommended to use a low carbohydrate diet if used as a dieting aid[1]. As a testosterone booster, there is nothing to suggest it acts as anything more than an impotence aid.
    1. Lyle Mcdonald, The Stubborn Fat Loss Solution (2008)


  • It enhances muscle growth and increases aerobic capacity.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (1998) Supplements [WWW] Available from: [Accessed