Improving Athletic Performance


Whether you are a hard-core athlete or weekend warrior, you want to get the most out of the effort you put into your workouts.  These recent studies explored how omega-3s and arginine may affect athletic performance.

Nutrients improve performance in elite athletes

Omega-3s boost elite cyclists

In this study, 13 elite cyclists took 1,300 mg of omega-3 fish oil per day or a placebo. After three weeks, while there were limited improvements for placebo, cyclists taking the omega-3s saw a 69 percent increase in nitric oxide, which helps widen and relax blood vessels, a 5.25 percent increase in a measure of blood flow, and a meaningful increase in the capacity to use oxygen.

Discussing the findings, doctors said that while the study didn’t directly measure changes in athletic performance, the results suggest that omega-3s may make aerobic exercise easier. Also, the increase in nitric oxide levels suggests better circulation that may enhance performance in endurance athletes.

 Arginine improved athletic performance

Doctors aren’t yet sure how arginine improves athletic performance, but found a benefit in elite male wrestlers. In this study, nine elite male wrestlers took 1,500 mg of arginine per day per 22 pounds of body weight, or a placebo.

After two weeks, the men fasted for 12 hours after the last dose of arginine, drinking only water, and then performed a cycling test. For the test, the men pedaled for three minutes at 60 to 70 revolutions per minute (rpm) with no resistance, then maintained 60 rpm against a 90-watt resistance load for the next three minutes, then tried to maintain 60 rpm as the resistance load increased by 30 watts every three minutes.

The arginine group cycled 5.8 percent longer than placebo before exhaustion, an improvement that may seem small but is significant, doctors said.

Reference: European Journal of Sports Science; 2015, Vol. 15, No. 4, 305-14

Want Muscles? Eat Mussels

Men who exercise less than three times per week, for fewer than 30 minutes each time, would tend to have greater muscle damage after high-intensity exercise than trained athletes. In this study designed to damage leg muscles, 32 untrained men took 1,200 mg of green-lipped mussel extract per day or a placebo for 26 days before taking a muscle-damaging 20-minute downhill running test.

Both groups got sore muscles immediately after exercise but the green-lipped mussel group had less muscle soreness, pain, fatigue, and fewer signs of inflammation, as well as less muscle soreness days later.

Reference: JISSN; February, 2015, Published Online

Betsy’s Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease.  Consult your healthcare provider before taking a supplement, especially if you have a medical condition or take medications. For example, omegas and green-lipped mussel extract also thin blood. Arginine may be contraindicated with certain heart medications and conditions.

Article copyright Natural Insights for Well Being 2015. All rights reserved. Used with permission.