ISSA SN Chapter 9: Metabolites and Botanical Supplements
ISSA SN Chapter 9: Metabolites and Botanical Supplements

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    Chapter Goals:

    • Describe and define the main terms that relate to the botanical supplements and metabolites.
    • Know the different forms of metabolites and botanical supplements and the major functions that they play a part in.
    • Discuss how these two things affect athletes and their performance or health.


    There are many other substances found in the foods and supplements we take in. these would fall under the category of botanicals, metabolites, and other enhancers of performance. 

    Low usage is recommended when starting off with any of these items. You should have solid record keeping to determine if there are any major benefits that arise. 


     These are the substances that we have in parts of the metabolism systems. We are able to produce some of these within our body, and others we need to take in from food sources. Some metabolites like the creatine, carnitine, and co-Q10 are found in supplemental form. 

    The body is able to make them, but it is still a good idea to load up on these substances to prevent any kind of shortage when exercising and to create a reserve in the body. 

    Athletes in research have been shown to have their performance improved with the presence of certain metabolites. 


    This is another catchall term. This one if for plant substances. Herb is another word that would be used for these substances.

    Prescribing plants is one of the oldest health sciences out there. Many plants have beneficial and powerful components in them. 

    Standardizing Botanical Supplements for Consistency (Quality)

    The biggest concern regarding these substances is that they are not all the same. they are not created equal. This is due to them truly depending on the soil in which they are grown in, and the way in which they are harvested. If you want consistent content within, you have to be consistent in these processes. The manufacturing process is one of the things that has to be looked at more so now. 

    Variability with Efficacy and Safety

    The variability is going to be expected in these botanicals and metabolites. 

    Some of this variability in the body and the variability of effects is going to be seen different if there are people that have high or low natural levels of these substances. If someone has naturally low levels, then they will likely see a lot greater effects as a result of increased intake. And the opposite when you see high natural levels. 


    Like our essential nutrients, the daily doses of metabolites and botanicals are going to be put in dosages that are divided, that is, taken in 2, 3, or even more times every day. 

    Alkalinizers, Blood Bluffers

    A lot of research is all around the sodium bicarbonate. This is baking soda. There have been many ergogenic reports seen for this substance, especially when the athlete is going through repeated workouts of max workload. This is in things such as sprinting. 

    While these are experimental, they are going to require clinical supervision when undergoing use. 

    Doses with water on an empty stomach one hour before activity are good to be taken in. if there are effects gastro-intestinally, then quarter doses should be switched to. 

    Beta-Hydroxy Beta-Methyl butyrate (BHMB or HMB)

    This metabolite supplement has been used for weightlifters and is reported with solid research to increase lean body mass and strength.

    BHMB can be made in the body from the leucine amino acids. we also find it in many supplements and products designed for athletes. 

    About 3 grams per day is the most effective dosage for people to see measurable differences.


    Increasing physical and mental performance, athletic performance, and many other things is well documented with adequate intake of caffeine in safe use and certain conditions. 

    A major issue with caffeine and similar drugs is going to be the misuse and the abuse that causes unhealthy side effects. The side effects related to the use of caffeine that we often see are:

    • Nervousness and jitteriness 
    • It I harder to fall asleep, to stay asleep and also to have a good night of sleep. 
    • The heartbeat increases
    • Blood pressure raises
    • The heart rhythm is uneven
    • Headaches and dizziness can occur
    • Health concerns arise for pregnant and lactating women

    An intake of around 400 mg of caffeine is seen to be safe. And having that every day does not give rise for concern either.

    Caffeine is naturally occurring and put in the group we call methylxanthines. We find this in foods like coffee, tea, chocolate, cola, and some other botanicals. We also synthesize caffeine and it is sold as a nonprescription drug. It is used in this sense as an aid for alertness and a stimulant for the body. 

    Several of the main effects of caffeine are desirable. These are effects such as alertness of the nervous system, mild diuretic effects, cardiac muscle stimulation, lipolysis increases as well as increases in physical activity in general, and then thermogenic activity stimulation. 

    For athletes, caffeine should be more than just a morning drink. We see the effects on performance for athletes as very beneficial, especially so for endurance athletes and those that exercise for longer time periods. 

    Research has shown caffeine to increase the rate at which we lose fat in the body. 

    It is often used as an aid in losing weight these days. It promotes the use of fat as energy due to the additions to the rate of caloric expenditure. It also has some effects on the amount of water we will retain in our bodies. 

    Caffeine will cause a mental burnout feeling if it is taken in excess, especially all at one time in doses over 200 mg. 

    It is important for athletes to be assessed by doctors and medical staff to see the exact amount that would be most beneficial for them. It should be used more periodically than every day and just regularly. You should hydrate very well before intaking a lot of caffeine. These dosages are taken one hour before competition to see the best effects of the drug.

    The main downside to this drug is the causes in dependency and alterations being made in your physiology. You should never exceed 1 gram of caffeine. 

    The military is rather famous for its use of caffeine to get the best performance in their soldiers. 

    Carnitine / Acetyl-L-Carnitine

    We have the ability to make carnitine in the body. its main role is as a transporter for the fatty acids to get to our mitochondria. It is now considered a conditionally essential nutrient due to its researched effectiveness. So, the body has been shown to be quite well benefited when taking in this metabolite. 

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    The athletic benefits are seen as things such as endurance being raised, the max VO2 being improved, reduced levels of lactate buildup when exercising, and improvements in the anaerobic strength output with the effects of protection from antioxidants. 

    Carnitine is also seen to be very useful in increasing the rate of losing fat and the use of fat as energy. 

    We see intakes of 2 – 4 grams of carnitine each day yielding the best results toward the performance of athletes. There is also some report of usefulness in carnitine loading.

    The purposes of carnitine in Health Canada is seen as:

    • The aids in recovery of your muscles and the tissue damage from workouts and the resistance training regimen. 
    • Help in supporting the repair of muscle tissue in standard resistance training.
    • This helps to improve the performance physically when it is used while in a program.
    • There is a help for the delay in fatigue from physical activity. 
    • There is help for the metabolism of fat and the oxidation of fat.
    • It serves as an antioxidant.

    There should never be more than 2 grams taken in one single dosage of carnitine. 

    Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone)

    This metabolite has a history of assistance in people that have some cardiovascular disorders. The safety and effectiveness of its use are shown well under the watch of doctors. 

    CQ10 is found in all cells in the mitochondria and it plays a role in the oxidative production of energy. It is also reported to play a role as an antioxidant also. 


    We use creatine nutritionally to increase the levels of creatine in the body within our muscle tissues. We find creatine in our food and we make it in the body. this is mostly in foods like animal products. 

    Creatinine is a waste product that occurs from the use of creatine.

    We make creatine from the 3 amino acids known as glycine, arginine, and methionine. Normal requirements are about 2 grams every day for people that are not athletes. 

    Loading of creatine is seen to have results like the improvements of training intensity and recovery from the anaerobic sports. This is done by loading up the reserves of creatine phosphate the muscles have. We see the most benefits occur in the types of activity that are quick and powerful. 

    Some of the benefits overall for the use of creatine are:

    • Increases made in the lean tissue and the size of tissues along with resistance training programs.
    • Improvements made in strength and performance in repetitive bouts of quick high intensity activities.
    • One option used for loading the creatine in the body is to take 15 – 20 grams every day for one week.
    • Another option sees the use of 3 – 5 grams per use for at least 4 weeks.
    • For maintenance in general we see the use of 2 – 5 grams every day.

    Gamma Oryzanol and Ferulic Acid

    This is a substance we find in rice bran oil and it is shown to promote many metabolic effects like the release of endorphins, the action of antioxidants and lipotropic effects, the reduction of stress, stimulation of growth hormone, growth and recovery. 

    We see the use of 200 mg of Ferulic acid each day and/or 300 – 900 mg of gamma oryzanol every day.

    Some studies have shown rather significant gains made in strength, specifically so in the one rep max bench tests, as it is often researched.


    Many types of ginseng have been used for thousands of years for the promotion of optimal health and better energy levels.

    Some of the benefits coming from ginseng are:

    • Improvements in performance physically as well as uptake of oxygen and post exercise recovery.
    • Improvements in the aerobic capacity.
    • Increased time to exhaustion is often seen.
    • Reductions in the lactic acid buildup due to exercise. 
    • Improvements in the max Vo2.
    • Reductions in overall body fat.
    • Increased use of fatty acids for energy.
    • Increased recovery of the heart rate.
    • Mental performance improvements like the reaction time, feelings of tiredness, recall, and psychomotor performance. 
    • Increased levels of alertness.
    • Improvements in the amount of coordination.
    • Improvements in the reaction time.
    • Decreases in the level of strain on the eyes.

    Some other effects to athletes could be:

    • Maintaining a healthy immune system. 
    • Lowered levels of glucose.
    • Support for function of cognition and reductions in fatigue mentally in times of stress.
    • Help enhancing the capacity of your body physically in times of stress.
    • Offer medical uses for athletes.

    Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate (CS)

    We have many types of connective tissues in the body, from cartilage, tendons, ligaments, pads, and many more. One third of the total protein in the body is found in collagen, thus it is the most common protein in the whole body. 

    These two metabolites are going to make up a large portion of these molecules. 

    Glucosamine is seen as the most important substance in connective tissue synthesis. It is used for the repair of these tissues, and it is super effective. It is seen as one of the main ways to avoid issues with your connective tissues. 

    Benefits for Athletes Are Actually Old News

    The attention to this glucosamine metabolites was brought to attention due to the benefits on healing knee problems in younger athletes.

    Research Reports More Benefits from Taking G&CS Supplements

    Some other purposes include:

    • There is some relief seen for the joints when someone has osteoarthritis.
    • We see cartilage health maintained more so with supplementation of these. 


    This is going to be produced in the body like other metabolites. These supplements have not been shown to have any effect on athletic performance. But, in terms of other bodily processes, we see them stimulated. Melatonin has been shown to promote more restful and deeper sleep. With sleep we see many different hormones increase and so is the growth and repair of muscles. Cortisol is reduced and there are many anti-catabolic effects. 

    The long term effects of use have not been studied as of yet, so you should not use this supplement for more than 4 weeks at a time. 


    Dietary nitrates have been shown to promoted effects that are positive for the circulatory system and some benefits in the realm of sports and exercise. 

    Physical endurance in both athletes and nonathletes has been seen to be positively affected with the intake of these nitrates. 


    This is a name used for bark from a French maritime pine tree. 

    Some of the benefits seen in athletes are:

    • Greater nitric oxide in our blood vessels which can cause better flow of blood.
    • Increases in the activity of antioxidants and reductions in stress related to exercise.
    • The capillary walls are strengthened. 
    • We see improvements in the time of healing for individuals.
    • Reductions in edema.
    • Alleviations in pain and cramping of our muscles.
    • Enhancements in the endurance levels.
    • And a few other small sport related effects. 
    ISSA SN Chapter 9: Metabolites and Botanical Supplements 1
    ISSA SN Chapter 9: Metabolites and Botanical Supplements 2
    ISSA SN Chapter 9: Metabolites and Botanical Supplements 3

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