Athletes should take a multivitamin

Dietary supplements for athletes - be the first to cross the finish line with pills?

What are nutritional supplements for athletes and how should they be rated?

There are now numerous dietary supplements on the market that persuade athletes to say "higher, faster, further". They are said to have a performance-generating or performance-enhancing effect, for example by increasing energy reserves, increasing muscle tissue or cell damage caused by exercise repair.

The substances that are supposed to increase performance include, for example, amino acids, antioxidants, creatine, L-carnitine, taurine and caffeine. In studies, however, their effectiveness for athletes has not yet been proven, with the exception of caffeine and creatine in a few sports.

The plentiful supply of dietary supplements with amino acids suggests that protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, dairy products or legumes cannot provide them in sufficient quantities. In fact, people in Germany usually eat a lot of protein of high biological value.

Taurine, a substance similar to amino acids, is sufficiently formed in the body and consumed with fish, meat and milk. An increase in physical performance with an additional intake could not be proven.

L-carnitine also does not have to be taken in separately. It is produced in abundance by the body itself and is also provided by meat in the menu. When used in sports nutrition, no improvement in endurance performance or fat burning could be demonstrated.

Food supplements that contain antioxidant substances such as vitamins C and E, beta-carotene or polyphenols have not shown any positive effects in studies. Proof of an increase in muscle performance or resilience could not be provided, nor could chronic diseases accompanying exercise be reduced. Some studies have even shown that too many antioxidant vitamin products can do more harm than good.

Caffeine has a short-term performance-enhancing effect - but not for people who regularly drink large amounts of coffee, cola or espresso and are therefore used to caffeine. It influences the energy metabolism, has a nerve-stimulating effect and stimulates blood circulation. Since caffeine also stimulates the intestines and kidneys, recreational athletes have to weigh up whether it is particularly useful in competitive situations or whether it is more of a nuisance to them. Too much caffeine leads to headaches and dizziness.

What else can I do?

  • A varied, wholesome diet is completely sufficient for you as an athlete to get enough nutrients without having to resort to special athlete food.
  • Protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, dairy products or legumes provide all the important amino acids. You can by clever combination, e.g. B. cereals with beans or potatoes with milk, increase the biological value of the individual proteins.
  • Any increased vitamin B1 requirement of endurance athletes, such as marathon runners, can be met with normal foods without any problems. This vitamin is found in many plant and animal foods. The absorption from grain products (oatmeal, muesli) is even better if you mix them with fruit.
  • There are plenty of antioxidant vitamins and other substances in vegetables and fruits.
  • If you lose minerals through sweat during training and competitions, you can easily compensate for this: with vegetables, salads, bananas, juice spritzers and potatoes. These provide plenty of magnesium, potassium and other important minerals.
  • Athletes who eat little, e.g. to lose weight or to reach a certain weight class for their sport, should pay particular attention to a wholesome and varied menu. The same applies to athletes who are vegan.
  • Scientifically sound nutritional recommendations for athletes are available from the Sports Nutrition Working Group of the German Nutrition Society. The recommendations will be added gradually.