FIBO Expert Talk: Trends in Herbal Performance Enhancers

It’s FIBO time! The world’s largest trade fair for fitness, wellness and health is taking place in Cologne until Sunday (April 10). FITBOOK was already on Thursday with an expert talk on the subject of plant-based food supplements. Here you can read the most important things in retrospect.

After a two-year hiatus due to Corona, FIBO 2022 will finally take place live again in Cologne, and FITBOOK was there with an exciting panel talk. The topic: “(Herbal) Dietary Supplements: Little-Known Classics and Performance Enhancers.” Our experts, Prof. Dr. Stephan Geisler (“The Fitness Professor”) and Dr. Eduard Isenmann from IST University Düsseldorf. The talk was moderated by FITBOOK Editor-in-Chief, Alexandra Grauvogl. Here you can read the most important information of the summary.

FITBOOK: When it comes to herbal performance enhancers, what trends can we expect in this area?
dr Edward Isenman: “As vegetarian and vegan diets have become increasingly popular in recent years, there has also been a lot in the area of ​​nutritional supplements. The market for vegetable proteins, for example, is now as large as the classic protein supplements of animal origin. Dietary supplements containing secondary plant substances are becoming more and more popular, that is, what many know as superfoods. Among other things, they are said to have an antioxidant, anabolic or regeneration promoting effect”.

Can you back that up with your own studies?
Isenman: “Plant steroids are currently an important topic in my research, both in the context of health, that is, in relation to people in special phases of life, and in competitive sports, since they are said to have anabolic effects “.

Herbal Performance Enhancers: Ecdiosteroids

What exactly are plant steroids?
Isenman: “When it comes to anabolic steroids, many of us are quick to prick up our ears. It all comes from the field of traditional Chinese medicine, originally more in the direction of isoflavones, meaning everything found in soy products. Since you do not have the problem that is often in the foreground with anabolic steroids. It has simply been observed that a diet rich in soy seems to have a positive effect on the loss of muscle mass. Thus, the anabolic effects of soy isoflavones were tracked. From there, it went more and more in the direction of ecdiosteroids and other plant-based steroids, which are found in spinach, for example.”

Background: FITBOOK Beach Camp 2022
At FIBO, FITBOOK presented with fitness teacher Dr. Stephan Geisler also presented the FITBOOK Beach Camp. From September 30 to October 7 we will travel together to Crete to spend a week of fitness holidays under the Greek sun! Read more about it here.

So does Popeye’s strategy of eating as much spinach as possible to gain more muscle work and you don’t need any dietary supplements?
Isenman: “In principle yes, but it is possible to get really large amounts of spinach to achieve concentrations similar to what you get from taking an ecdysterone preparation. I looked into this in a self test and ate a kilo of spinach per meal every day. Fortunately just for a few days, because that was no fun. Blood and urine samples were taken. However, we are still in the more detailed analysis, so I cannot say yet if we can achieve similar values ​​with a diet rich in spinach than with a supplement Because of the amounts you have to consume, you can already tell that it’s probably going to be hard to implement long-term.”

Also interesting: Does plant-based nutrition harm masculinity? On the other hand!

Herbal Steroids: Less Concern Than Classic Anabolic Steroids?

Are these herbal steroids safe?
Isenman: “So far we have no clear evidence of potential danger. On the contrary, this does not mean that they are harmless.

If we look at the topic of dietary supplements as a performance booster: How useful is it for the normal fitness athlete to take supplements in addition to their normal diet?
fitness teacher dr. Stephen Geiser: “For example, my attitude towards the topic of dietary supplements for bodybuilding is relatively simple: all the active ingredients found in such supplements are also included in our daily diet. And I should only supplement this food if I am deficient in any nutrient. If I don’t have a deficiency, I also shouldn’t give my body any supplements.”

The billion euro market for dietary supplements suggests many handle it differently…
odle: “Unfortunately, that’s the way it is. The media and especially social media often suggest: if you don’t take this and that product, you won’t be able to look like this or that. That puts a lot of people under pressure. A lot is said, but there is no a lot of truth in it.”

Performance Enhancer (Vegetable) Protein

But how does a fitness athlete know, for example, when it would make sense to supplement with protein?
odle: “The protein issue is very complex. It is an elemental building material of the body that is involved in numerous metabolic processes. Therefore, it is difficult to determine from clinical values ​​or specific symptoms when a deficiency occurs. The easiest thing is to see how much protein you are eating each day. There are clear guidelines you can follow, e.g. B. the German Society for Nutrition, but also international guidelines such as the International Society for Sports Nutrition. They help physically active and less active people, young and old, determine their daily protein needs.”

Also interesting: Is it better to supply protein for more muscles in the morning or in the evening?

Are you seeing a worrying trend when it comes to protein?

odle: “I’ve been in the fitness industry for a long time. 25 years ago we also talked about needing a little more protein to build muscle, which is true. But for about ten years, industry and advertising have told us: ‘Eat a high-protein diet!’ There’s already protein chocolate pudding! You can no longer talk about a protein deficiency in the population. And on top of that the protein shake after training? I don’t think it’s necessary and it doesn’t make sense either.”

Going back to the initial question about plant-based performance enhancers when it comes to protein, do plant-based proteins have any disadvantages compared to animal products?
Isenman: “Here, the situation of the study is quite clear: animal proteins have a higher biological value when I look at the individual food, e.g. a piece of meat, quinoa, soy. But in practice I tend to eat a combination of different products “So not just beans, but beans with rice or meat and potatoes. The combination of these foods should reach a score of 100, and I can do that on a vegetarian or vegan diet.”

Also interesting: 6 vegetable protein sources, they provide more protein than eggs

FITBOOK experts at FIBO 2022

Stephan Geisler is a professor of fitness and health at the IST University in Düsseldorf and director of training for physical trainers at the German Sport University in Cologne. He regularly reports on the latest findings in the field of sports medicine and science for FITBOOK.

Eduard Isenmann conducts research at the German Sport University Cologne in the field of molecular and cellular sports medicine. Since 2018 he is a research associate of the IST university team in the “Fitness and Health” department. Research area: the influence of nutrition, dietary supplements and regeneration-promoting measures on sports performance.

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