Omega-3s, beta-alanine and herbs boost athletes’ performance

In athletes, omega-3s improved lung function, beta-alanine improved cyclists’ performance, creatine strengthened swimmers, and rhodiola and ginkgo biloba increased endurance and cut fatigue, several new studies reveal.

In an omega-3 study, 40 non-smoking amateur male wrestlers, average age 19 with an average body mass index of 22.75, took one fish oil softgel containing 180 mg of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) plus 120 mg of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) per day, with or without training, or took a placebo with or without training. After 12 weeks, while there were no significant changes for the other groups, the omega-3 training group had 41 percent better airflow and 53 percent greater total lung capacity compared to the beginning of the study.

In a beta-alanine study, 17 moderately to well-trained cyclists took 2-4 grams of beta-alanine per day or a placebo. After eight weeks, participants cycled in a 110-minute simulated cycling race, followed by a 10-minute timed trial and a 30-second sprint. During the sprint, compared to placebo, the beta-alanine group had 11.4 percent greater peak power and 5 percent greater average power.

In a creatine study, 16 male elite swimmers, average age 16, took 5 grams of creatine four times per day, or a placebo. After five days, while there was no change for placebo, the creatine group increased continuous jumping power by 20 percent and swam much faster in two 100-meter swim sprints.

In an endurance study, 67 healthy men, aged 18 to 22, took a 270 mg combination of rhodiola plus ginkgo biloba four times per day or a placebo. After seven weeks, while there was no change for placebo, the rhodiola-ginkgo group had much better aerobic (oxygen) capacity in an endurance test compared to the beginning of the study. Researchers also measured cortisol, a sign of stress, and found cortisol levels were much higher in the placebo group, but unchanged in the rhodiola-ginkgo group.

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