The Benefits of Using Dietary Supplements for Women in their Training Regimen

Dr. John Lewis Ph. D.

20 September 2016

In addition to the standard the recommendations for diet and exercise regarding health and the prevention (or reversal, in some cases) of chronic disease, we are often bombarded with information about the use of dietary supplements for many purposes, such as to lose weight, to burn fat, and/or to make better and faster progress with our exercise regimen.  While the information about using dietary supplements to achieve better exercise gains always seems to be more slanted toward a male audience, the truth of the matter is that dietary supplements will work equally well for women as well.  Although men naturally produce higher amounts of testosterone, this hormone is only one part of the “equation” that is responsible for determining physical fitness among all people.  Additionally, physical fitness goals are also dependent upon the desires of the individual.  Regardless of gender, you might be interested in becoming a swimmer, runner, dancer, yoga practitioner, bodybuilder, or a “weekend warrior” who is capable of playing a pickup game of volleyball or going for a swim in the ocean.  Nonetheless, your physical fitness goals can be achieved better by utilizing certain dietary supplements.

If you are interested in becoming strong and lean with a desired level of muscularity or if you have aspirations of even competitive bodybuilding or fitness/bikini events, then creatine should be one of your best dietary supplement friends.  Creatine is likely the most widely studied ergogenic aid and has consistently showed to be effective in helping to produce better workouts and recovery from workouts.  How does creatine work?  Supplementing with creatine helps the body to produce more of its own cellular energy known as adenosine triphosphate or ATP.  Our cells need to continually produce ATP for life itself, but the more ATP we can produce during physical activity, the more fit we can become.  In the case of weight training, having more creatine in our daily routine enables the body to produce more ATP in response to the demands placed on it when we lift weights.  We already produce creatine, so it is not essential, meaning that it has to be included in the diet, but we do not produce a high enough amount of it naturally to cause an increased fitness level.  However, taking 3-5 gram per day before or after your workout can produce remarkable effects in a relatively short period of time, i.e., in under one month.  Creatine has been shown to be safe when consumed over a long period of time, and any side effects, such as bloating or stomach gas, should be very minimal if you drink plenty of water (1-2 liters) along with it.  The type of bloating that may occur is not similar to menstrual bloating at all, but if bloating does occur, then you can drop the creatine dose by one-half or cut it out altogether till the feeling stops and/or increase your intake of water as well.  Without question, creatine is the best studied, most effective dietary supplement to help you achieve your training goals, particularly if they are related to strength and power.  Additionally, as an added benefit, creatine is now thought to be very good for the brain as well, so exercise training along with creatine may be a great 1-2 punch to keep your mind sharp and intact.

Although not known as well as creatine for being evaluated by scientists for its effects on exercise training, curcumin (turmeric longa) is another highly studied dietary supplement with many known health benefits.  Because of its highly anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective effects, curcumin will also work well in synergy with your exercise training.  Regardless of the type of activity, but most predominantly in the eccentric or negative contraction phase of movement, exercise will cause muscular and joint tissue soreness as a typical response due to not only microscopic tearing of the fibers, but also immune system production of inflammatory proteins.  Thus, given all of the inflammatory and oxidative stress that is created in response to physical activity, curcumin offers great potential for improving your response to exercise training.  A typical dose of curcumin would be at least 200 mg per day, and you should look for a version that is enhanced for absorption, such as one with micelle, liposome, or phospholipid encapsulation.

Beetroot juice is another amazing nutrient with highly anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that works very well in conjunction with your exercise training program.  The key phytochemicals of the juice appear to be nitrates, which help to dilate the blood vessels, thus increasing the blood supply to the working muscles and the cardiovascular system.  This increased dilation allows the heart to work at a higher level, thus increasing your overall aerobic fitness level.  The nitrates are also very good for lowering blood pressure and for improving blood flow to the brain to help maintain cognitive functioning throughout the lifespan.  Like creatine, drink your beetroot juice to not only improve your exercise training, but keep your brain healthy as well.  Two beetroots appear to be an adequate daily amount for most people.

Tart cherry is an incredible nutrient that can also be used to counteract the muscle damage and inflammation caused by your exercise training.  Several recent studies have shown that the complex anthocyanins and phenols in tart cherries allow the body to recuperate faster from all of the soreness and pain that you feel after an intense workout.  In addition to tart cherry’s ability to help you recover faster from exercise, it also helps to ward off the risks of various cancers, cardiovascular disease, and dementia.  It truly is a superfood!  For the best chance to counteract your exercise-induced soreness, you may need to drink as much as 12 ounces of tart cherry per day.

Finally, please consider that you cannot take dietary supplements to achieve physical fitness.  You must train consistently and with proper intensity and you must eat a whole-food diet.  With those behaviors in order, your dietary supplementation regimen utilizing creatine, curcumin, beetroot juice, and tart cherry will help you to achieve your physical fitness goals like you never imagined.  Buy good quality dietary supplements and be on your way to great fitness and health!

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