Sports Nutrition and Pharmacology in Western Countries
On the contrary, one of the major deficiencies of using pharmacological means and nutrition in the West is that there is no complete system. Dozens of colorful and glitzy advertisements in any major bodybuilding or other sport-related magazine are touting the benefits of the latest "miracle" supplement. But, there is no method for their use (time recommendation and periodization within the overall training cycle and single work-outs, or regarding food consumption and the restorative periods) no sound scientific research to back up their claims, and no system to complex them with other pharmacological substances or nutritional supplements and training means. This is very confusing to even the most educated coaches and athletes.
Little effort has been directed at educating athletes, and developing an effective system of sport pharmacology. Athletes and coaches are still asking the same questions they did ten years ago. There is no systematic plan for using effective sport pharmacology in coordination with contemporary training methods. Also, information is lacking about the systemic approach for combining various pharmacological substances into an effective formula that enhances health and performance. The following material concerning sport pharmacology will clear up much of the confusion surrounding the many substances used in Western sports nutrition and also address new substances previously available only in the USSR.
Nutrition, Pharmacology, and Training: A Systematic Approach
It is a great error to simply throw substances together. Some work against one another while others work together to strengthen the body. Particularly nutrition supplements are required at certain periods within the training cycle, and not others. No one substance should be used for any length of time (longer than 3 weeks without a break), as this causes adaptation to the supplement and a loss of effect. That is why all the pharmacological plans for Soviet athletes are based on the intermittent principle - three weeks on, one week off; this cycle for each component of the whole complex is repeated not less than three times during an evolutionary hard work training cycle (figure 2). The same principle is preserved in planning a precompetitive stimulatory and postcompetitive restorative programs. As it was shown by Soviet pharmacologists, there was about a 30-40% loss of the pharmacological effect of the supplementation complex, if the number of the pharmacological substances composing the complex exceeds six. So, the intermittent step-wise time-scheduled scheme has been designed to take into consideration dose-time relationships of the various supplements.
There is no single safe and natural medicine or supplement which will create super athletes overnight. Before using a sport supplement, there are a number of questions to be answered:
• What is the goal of supplementation program (i.e., structural, energetic, adaptogenic, protective, restorative, etc.)?
• In what doses are supplements effective and what is the athlete's individual sensitivity?
• In what part of the training cycle should supplements be used?
• How can supplements be combined for maximum effect?
• What is the current state of body homeostasis?
The last question is of particular practical importance. As it was reported from the Soviet Union (Silber et al., 1988) the anticipated effect of a pharmacosanation complex depends strongly on the state of the athlete's steroid hormone homeostasis (i.e., cortisol and testosterone).
The East European competitors have had a competitive advantage and have made great headway because they were taking sport supplements (including anabolic steroids). This was not done at random; rather, it was done under the careful supervision of scientists and pharmacologists. Several hormone tests have been developed to assess anabolic status, including tests for evaluation of steroid hormone homeostatis (both informative and prognostic) (Silber, 1991).This added precision to the athletes nutrition, training, and pharmacology programs.