Definition Of Ingredients Used In Sports Nutrition Products


by Sarah Koszyk, M.A., RDN, Registered Sports Dietitian/Nutritionist

ARGININE A common natural amino acid. Most people naturally produce arginine in the body in significant healthy amounts and do not need supplementation. Arginine quickens repair time of damaged tissues and reduces healing times of bone injuries. Arginine is necessary to make creatine, glutamate, and it is a precursor for nitric oxide.

BCAA Branch-chain amino acids are among the nine essential amino acids necessary for humans. The three that are used for ergogenic aids in sports nutrition products are leucine, isoleucine and valine. BCAAs are proteins and new research has shown that athletes involved in intense training, such as ultramarathoners, may require one and a half to two times the RDA of protein (which is 0.8 g/kg/day) to maintain a positive nitrogen balance. They may help delay fatigue and help with recovery.

COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES Complex carbohydrates have three or more sugars in their makeup and are slower to absorb than simple carbohydrates, which have one or two.

DEXTROSE Another name for glucose.

FRUCTOSE A monosaccharide that can be absorbed directly into the blood stream and is often bonded to glucose to form the disaccharide sucrose. Fructose is very sweet.

GELATIN An almost tasteless, odorless glutinous substance made from boiling ligaments, bones and skins of animals and used as a base for jellies and glues.

GLUCOSE A monosaccharide derived from plants during photosynthesis. It can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream and is the main source of energy when exercising, as well as the only source of fuel our brain uses. Common sources are carbohydrates.

GLUCOSE POLYMERS Extended chains of glucose molecules sometimes also known as starch. They are not as sweet as glucose and are rapidly used by the body, providing an ideal source of calories for exercise with less gastrointestinal distress.

GLUTEN-FREE excludes foods containing gluten (wheat, barley and rye).

GLUTAMINE A non-essential amino acid that is most abundant in the bloodstream. Important for synthesizing protein in muscles, providing cellular energy (next to glucose), and regulating acid-based balance in the kidneys. Glutamine is also known to reduce healing times because it improves nitrogen balance.

LEUCINE An essential amino acid which cannot be produced by the body. Part of the branched-chain amino acids. Leucine stimulates muscle protein synthesis.

MALTITOL A sugar alcohol or polyol used as a sugar substitute which has 75-90% sweetness of sucrose or table sugar. Contains half the calories of table sugar. Produced by Corn Products Specialty Ingredients and may have a laxative effect.

MALTODEXTRIN A chain of glucose molecules, usually seen as a white powder that is rapidly absorbed and almost tasteless. Used in sports nutrition products because it is a complex carbohydrate that has rapid absorption from the gut, and slower “drip” into athlete’s blood stream. Each glucose molecule must be cleaved from the chain.

PEA PROTEIN ISOLATE A high-quality, incomplete protein from peas, which is vegan. Pea protein is missing some essential amino acids, but it is a great source of protein and is “slow-digesting” in that it will keep you full longer. Natural and no artifi cial fl avors.

SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES Those carbs that have one (single) or two (double) sugars, as in a monosaccharide such as glucose, fructose and galactose and disaccharides such as lactose, maltose and sucrose.

SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE Protein isolated from soybeans that is a complete protein since it provides all the essential amino acids. Plant-based, vegan-friendly protein source.

STEVIA A sweetener and sugar substitute made from the leaves of a plant. Stevia’s taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar, and some of its extracts may have a bitter aftertaste.

SUCRALOSE is an artifi cial sweetener that is 300 to 1,000 times sweeter than regular sugar. The body does not break down the majority of ingested Sucralose so it has no caloric value. Splenda is a common brand name.

SUCROSE A disaccharide (two sugars) composed of glucose and fructose.

SUPERSTARCH A complex carbohydrate developed by UCAN from non-genetically-modified corn starch that stabilizes blood sugar. SuperStarch provides athletes with a low osmolality so that there is more of a slow “time-released” glucose profi le. Used pre, during and post exercise.

TAPIOCA SYRUP Made from the yucca root, but still a sugar. Not genetically modified and gluten-free.

TAURINE A non-essential amino acid sometimes used in energy drinks to combat fatigue. A 2012 study from Australia reported that taurine might actually blunt the effect of caffeine.

VEGAN One who abstains from all animal products including eggs, dairy and other animal-derived substances.

WHEY PROTEIN ISOLATES Dietary supplement and food ingredient from separating milk components. Whey is a byproduct of cheese and can be processed to get proteins in three different forms: whey isolate, whey concentrate or whey hydrolysate. Whey isolates have a higher percentage of pure protein and are almost lactose-free. Whey proteins are quickly absorbed in the body since they contain BCAAs (see above for defi nition).

XYLITOL A sugar alcohol used as a diabetic sweetener as it is roughly as sweet as sugar without the sugarspike. It is also beneficial for dental health, helping to reduce caries by a third when used regularly.

SOME OTHER NAMES FOR SUGAR Agave, all natural evaporated cane juice, barley malt, beet sugar, brown rice syrup, brown sugar, cane-juice crystals, cane sugar, coconut sugar, corn sugar, corn syrup, date sugar, dextrin, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice, glucose, grape sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, maize syrup, malt syrup, maltodextrin, maltose, mannitol, molasses, raw sugar, sorbitol, sucrose, sugar, turbinado sugar and any of these names with “natural” or “organic” in front of them.


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