For athletes, adequate supplementation of calcium for optimum performance is vital. Calcium is not only essential to bone maintenance it is indispensable to nerve conduction, muscle contraction and a myriad of other physiological functions.
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Calcium’s Key Role in Fat Loss
Calcium also appears to have a key role in fat loss; low calcium intake retards your ability to burn fat for fuel. Everyday that calcium intake is inadequate, the body draws upon its own reserves within bone, to meet these demands.
Recent reports show that the average intake of calcium in U.S. citizens is only approx 750mg/day; way below the recommended intake of 1200mg. Athletes maybe even more deficient because bone mineralization increases in response to the stress of exercise.
Additionally, accurate assessment of calcium status is difficult as blood calcium concentrations are maintained within a tightly controlled, physiological range so that normal values are preserved even when intake is poor. Therefore, athletes should be aware of the best nutritional sources of calcium.
Dairy protein-based products such as Whey Isolate can contain between 500-2000mg of dairy calcium (per 100grams of protein). Dairy calcium is the most bioavailable form of calcium. The bioavailability of a nutrient in a particular food is the actual amount of the nutrient that is absorbed during digestion.
Studies have shown that calcium absorption from non-dairy sources, such as fortified soy milk are 25% less than that seen from dairy foods. Therefore, whey protein-based products are a cost-effective, high quality source of calcium that is readily absorbed by the body.
Better Fat Loss From Increasing Calcium Intake
Epidemiologic data suggest that people with high calcium intake have a lower body fat and better insulin function. Direct studies on mice have demonstrated that calcium intake influences fat metabolism.
High calcium intake depresses levels of particular hormones that cause a decrease in intracellular calcium which in turn inhibit lipogenesis (fat accumulation) and stimulating lipolysis (fat burning). The direct and indirect evidence suggests that a high calcium intake helps a person get lean and stay lean.
Dairy Proteins Have More Effect Than Calcium From Dietary Supplements
The research on calcium and body fat also suggests that calcium from dairy proteins has more of a beneficial effect than calcium from dietary supplements.
Dairy protein supplements such as Whey Isolate are a rich source of dairy calcium. Their ability to boost calcium intake in the diet is just another reason why these supplements are so effective at improving building a lean physique.
Supplementation with Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
Yet another long term study has shown that supplementation with Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a safe and effective supplement that provides effective fat loss in adults.
This study lasted 24 months and aside from monitoring CLA’s effects on body composition it focused on evaluating the safety of this supplement by using clinical chemistry analyses and asking the participants to report any adverse effects.
After an initial 12 month randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with CLA, 134 of the 157 participants continued this study for another 12 months. The CLA supplemented subjects continued taking 3.4 grams of CLA per day in capsule form.
Changes in Body Composition
The end point assessments demonstrated that changes in body composition were not related to diet and/or exercise training. CLA supplementation provided no ill effects and maintained the significant reduction in body fat experienced by these participants in the earlier trial.
DHEA for Losing Fat and Increasing Muscle Gains
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a pro-hormone that is converted to sex steroids such as testosterone. Many athletes take DHEA to boost testosterone levels that can speed fat loss and muscle gains from exercise. Some scientific evidence supports the use of DHEA for this purpose.
A recent study on rodents demonstrated that the group given DHEA showed lower body fat, blood fats and insulin. The results lead the scientists to suggest that DHEA may have a role in improving body composition (more muscle and lower levels of body fat).
Another recent study on adult humans showed that after six months, the participants taking 50 milligrams of DHEA each day had less stomach fat and improved insulin function compared a group given a placebo.
This study used older adults (65-75 years), so we don’t know for sure if these results relate directly to younger adults. One thing is certain; none of us are getting older! Particularly you’re over 35 years old, DHEA may help boost your results from exercise.