hockey supplements

5 Benefits of Supplementing Amino Acids

Protein is essential for muscle growth and recovery, but should you also be taking added amino acids (BCAAs)? BCAAs or branched chain amino acids are essential for us due to the body's inability to create them on its own. Leucine, isoleucine, and valine all need to be ingested in order for the body to utilize them. Along with this, they make up roughly 40% of the amino acids in the body making their ingestion incredibly important.

BCAAs are found in protein based foods, things like chicken, steak, fish, protein shakes, etc. This is another reason why high-protein diets are so important for athletes, the amino acids in them are what make the protein so useful for us. This being said, it's important to note that diets higher in protein are always the most important factor when worrying about amino acid intake.

BCAAs, like protein are one of the supplements that will never hurt your progress. If some days you question your total protein intake, supplementing can help ensure you're getting enough. Better safe than sorry if you're in question, here's why taking BCAAs can be so beneficial.

  1. Increased protein synthesis - we've discussed this concept in multiple articles, the more protein synthesis taking place, the better your recovery and growth. Protein synthesis is the utilization of protein to help you recover and grow faster. Since amino acids are protein building blocks, supplementing extra can be beneficial.
  2. Decreased soreness - BCAAs, especially leucine have been seen to help prevent muscle soreness (DOMS). This is due to their ability to help prevent excessive protein breakdown, ensuring you the proper fuel to keep moving forward and recover without dipping into stores only needed in extreme situations.
  3. Increase fat loss - BCAAs help improve glucose tolerance (a trait of most lean athletes) and can be used as fuel before burning through ATP and other energy reserves. Also, it has been observed that BCAAs facilitate fat loss by increasing fat oxidation and improving energy expenditure. 
  4. Increased muscle growth - supplementation of BCAAs can help increase your anabolic response (muscle growth response). Prolonged protein synthesis = more time to grow, this being said, increased aminos in the body with high-protein will create an anabolic environment.
  5. Better hormone balance - when your body is in a depleted state your cortisol (stress hormone) levels increase, which inhibits growth and slows release of muscle building hormones (testosterone and other growth hormones produced by the body). BCAAs have been seen to prevent a depleted state by supplying you with better fuel to avoid slipping into reserves pushing you to a depleted state.

Supplementing BCAAs won't hurt you, they're a great tool if you're worried you're not getting enough protein. If you don't take them are they going to make or break your progress? No, but better safe than sorry when it comes to athletic growth. We offer BCAAs in the gym and would gladly help/recommend you with any questions and regards you have!

Vitamin D and In-Season Hockey

There's no secret that in-season most hockey players are probably not achieving their optimal vitamin-D levels. This isn't their fault of course, obtaining levels from the sun is increasingly difficult in the winter (in-season) and most young athletes don't have a huge influence on the foods they eat (usually parents cook). Although, it should be in an athlete's and parents' best interest to obtain optimal levels of this vitamin, especially when the winter might leave one in a deficiency.

Vitamin-D has been linked to an increase in mood, immune system health and most importantly in this scenario...athletic performance. Not only does an adequate intake of vitamin-D elevate strength increases, but speed and coordination also improve. 

The active component in vitamin-D is known as a seco-steroid, once active this then circulates through the body provoking genetic protein transcription. Which in summation basically states, vitamin-D works in multiple aspects by inducing better functioning of multiple genomes (the things that make us function). As a developing athlete this is increasingly important--constant development needs to be kept at a peak level for optimal growth. For example, if an athlete feels tired constantly and gets sick frequently these are times when growth is slowed or stopped completely.

While vitamin-D isn't the end all be all to perfect health all of the time, it does work as a buffer to help prevent the above examples. It's a simple trick to improving performance and it takes virtually no extra effort to do so. This supplement is proven to be safe and effective and we offer it in-gym from the Poliquin Group, a company known for their product purity and effectiveness. Ask about this product next time you're in!

For more information regarding vitamin-D and its usefulness especially in the athletic population click here.

Vitamin D Supreme

Pre-Game Supplementation

We’ve talked pre-game nutrition, but what about supplementation? A lot of elite athletes could be reaping the benefits of supplements to enhance performance…and no, not steroids! We’re talking safe, natural supplements that prime the nervous system for activity and prime the mind for added focus. There are so many factors that can influence your play from a good game to a GREAT game. The supplements listed have been proven to improve mood, energy and focus–Designs For Health and Poliquin Group supplements (the listed supps) are known for their product purity and nutrient availability.