Supplements can form an important part of an athlete’s preparation, although they should not be used as a substitute for training, diet and hydration. Any supplements that are used by an athlete should be complementary to their overall programme.

Athletes are ultimately responsible for all substances in their body, and some supplements may be detrimental to the athlete’s health and training or may contain substances prohibited under the World Anti-Doping Code. For example, some supplements may contain ingredients that are not listed on the product’s label, which may have been intentionally added or unintentionally added (e.g. residue left on equipment from other production runs).

It is also important to remember that there is no shortcut to success, and that even where products are promoted by established sport stars, supplements by themselves will not lead to success.

Informed Sport (www.informed-sport. com) regularly tests supplement products to determine whether they are free from substances that are prohibited under the WADA code. Athletes can seek information from this site on specific supplements that they may be considering. However, the best form of advice is for the athlete to work with a sports dietitian.

Basketball Physiology

Basketball is a fast-paced, highly skilled and physical sport, which places considerable demands upon both anaerobic and aerobic energy systems. Accordingly, to withstand these demands and to be able to achieve high levels of energy, players need to:

  • Minimize carbohydrate depletion;
  • Maintain adequate hydration

Basketball “Biochemistry”

Supplements are not magic pills.
The scientific use of nutritional supplementation may improve an athlete’s biochemical environment or metabolism and help them to perform better and recover faster. Nevertheless, this requires knowledge and planning. In basketball, high energy production and its proper and timely utilization are important. Concomitant to this, the reduction of lactic acid and cortisol concentrations will also boost our performance.

Nutrients Utilised in Energy Production

The increase in energy production and oxygenation combined with reduction in lactic acid and cortisol production is the formula we are looking for. In short, here are the most important nutrients to help you achieve metabolic optimization.

1. B complex vitamins

These nutrients are a class of structurally different components used as enzyme co- factors in human intermediary metabolism. Thiamin (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Niacin (Niacinamide, nicotinic acid, vitamin B3), Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) Cobalamin (Vitamin B12), Folate, Pantothenate (Vitamin B5). These vitamins are the bases of energy production.

2. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

Vitamin C is involved in a variety of metabolic reactions related to exercise. Physiologically, ascorbic acid provides electrons for important enzymatic reactions. In addition, Vitamin C enhances the flow of electrons needed to optimise aerobic energy production (2).

3. Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone)

CoQ10 is a compound directly involved in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the cell energy molecule. It helps transport the energy molecules within the mitochondria.

4. L- Carnitine)

Carnitine is a compound primarily involved in transports of fatty acids into the mitochondria of the cell, where fat can be used as energy fuel.

5. Alpha Lipoic Acid (Thioctic acid)

Lipoic acid is a dual water and fat soluble oxidation-reduction compound. It supports the Krebs cycle, which
is a fundamental process in the production of energy. It also supports the production of ATP by acting as a catalyst in the production of acetyl co-enzyme A, an important molecule in the pathway of aerobic energy.

6. Creatine

Creatine phosphate is a nitrogenous organic compound that serves as a reservoir of ATP in muscle and nerve tissue. It helps regenerate ATP. Many studies show that creatine plays a pivotal role in the regulation and maintenance of muscle energy, metabolism and fatigue.

7. Ribose

D-ribose is a natural five carbon sugar that is used to make energy for muscles when a person is very active. It also helps in the recovery process, and lessens fatigue and soreness.

General Recommendations

General recommendations are made below, however, athletes are strongly recommended to seek advice specific to their circumstances from a sports dietitian:

  1. A high dose multivitamin and mineral that will contain the necessary B vitamins and other synergistic nutrients.
  2. Vitamin C
  3. CoQ10
  4. L-Carnitine
  5. Alpha lipioc acid 6. Creatine
  6. Ribose
    500 mg 100mg 2g 300mg 5g

This combination of nutrients together with a proper intake of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins and essential fats will enhance energy production and stamina during competition.