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Professional athletes have very clear league and association guidelines concerning performance-enhancing drugs or supplements. 

Even if you aren’t a professional athlete, there are many substances that will actually do more harm than good when trying to create a healthy body capable of maximum performance. 

U.S.-based athletes are more likely to take supplements that help reduce the chances of bodily injury, enhance recovery and provide greater exercise results, but you can benefit from many of these supplements as well. 

Here are some of the safest supplements to help meet your athletic goals.

Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate

Better known as HMB, this supplement is used to help with repair to damaged skeletal muscle and reduce the stress level on muscle cells. 

Athletes use this to try to reduce the damage to muscle cells that often accompanies demanding workout routines, potentially warding off damaged rotator cuffs or torn hamstrings. Studies have shown that consistent use of three grams a day for two months has had no adverse side effects.

Hormone Supplements

There are many different hormone balance supplement options on the market, and choosing one to work for your routine depends on the nature of the fitness demands. The body releases a number of hormones during intense periods of activity, and an imbalance can lead to health concerns. 

The release of the growth hormone positively affects ligament and tendon strength, muscle mass, and protein synthesis. Estrogen will directly impact ligament and tendon stiffness, though levels that are too high can decrease performance and power in women.

Betaine

While naturally found in whole-grain bread, spinach, or beets, a supplement of betaine can help the body produce more creatine. It can help boost water retention at cellular levels and improve nitric-acid levels in the blood. 

For cyclists and bodybuilders, it can improve strength and power for more consistent performance. Taking a dose of at least 2.5 grams a day for two weeks has reported no safety concerns in athletes.

Creatine

This is one of the most widely used supplements by athletes across a range of sports or fitness demands. Creatine is linked with increased work, power, and strength with each muscle contraction. 

Sprinters use creatine to improve their energy levels for short anaerobic bursts, though intermittent high-intensity training has been seen to be more productive with the use of creatine as well. 

Creatine may also make it easier for an athlete’s body to adapt to a harsh training regimen. Athletes have been able to withstand moderate doses for up to 12 weeks without any complications.

Collagen

Though is a natural protein found in the body, the ability of collagen to improve ligament and tendon strength in athletes has made taking it in supplement form highly popular. 

The benefits of the supplement include heightened tissue repair and lowered risk of injury, but it is best when taken before a workout in order to gain the maximum benefits. It is not a good protein source for lean muscle mass development.

Glutamine

Amino acids are important contributors to athletic ability, as these compounds will improve endurance, reduce muscle aches and soreness and help improve recovery time from fatigue and exertion. Glutamine is an amino acid that will impact energy production and metabolism. 

When used as a post-workout or event regimen, it can help with recovering muscle strength and decreasing soreness. No safety concerns have been reported in a dosage of 45 grams a day for six weeks.

Protein

Many find that their protein intake through diet isn’t enough to keep up with the demands of the training and sporting events of an athlete. 

Protein gives the body the amino acids that muscle health depends on, whether developing muscle tissue, maintaining it, or trying to repair it. Athletes will take protein as a post-workout or activity supplement since this is when the muscle protein is most likely to break down.

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Natural supplements, or those derived from compounds organically ingested through food sources, are usually a better option compared to synthetic alternatives. 

Athletes also need to remember that some supplements are not allowed based on league or association restrictions.

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