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Sports Nutrition: The Importance of Nucleotides and NAC


nutrition articles

Sports Nutrition: The Importance of Nucleotides and NAC

Written by Allison Menor, BS

Low-carbohydrate and high protein diets have become the go-to diet for fitness enthusiasts everywhere, but do you understand why? Protein is a macronutrient (a nutrient that the body needs in relatively large amounts) that, unlike fats and carbohydrates, the body is unable to store. As a result, the body needs to work overtime to metabolize this protein, which in turn, allows us to burn more calories simply through digestion.

Protein Synthesis

This is where protein synthesis comes into play. Protein synthesis is actually vital for the repair of torn or otherwise injured muscles. What most people don’t realize is that most of our fitness goals are actually achieved post-workout. During the recovery phase our bodies burn fat and boost metabolism by repairing the various micro-tears that occur as a result of physical activity. Therefore, as a Sports Nutritionist, it’s my job to understand the various cells and amino acids (the components of protein) that are involved in this metabolic function and help my clients incorporate them into their everyday routine, at the optimal time, in order to reach their fitness goals.

Supplements for Before and After A Workout

A lot of my clients are concerned with which supplements they should specifically take before and after a workout. The most common sports supplements include L-Carnitine, L-Glutamine, L-Arginine, and Creatine. Considered amino acids, these supplements have been known to increase levels of fat-burning hormones and provide proper nutrient delivery to working muscles. While these are all great supplements, there are actually two more emerging supplements that are starting to become more well-known in the world of sports nutrition. 

NAC (N-acetylcysteine)

NAC, N-acetylcysteine, is a supplement that I most commonly recommend to clients that are suffering from any respiratory issue. It is also known to help assist the liver in breaking up excess mucus and removing toxic metals like mercury and lead from the body. N-acetylcysteine is a stabilized form of the amino acid cysteine that is known to increase glutathione, which is one of the body’s primary intracellular antioxidant enzymes and detoxifying agents. NAC is not present in the diet, and therefore must be obtained through supplementation. 

NAC has been known to help with weight–loss through stabilizing insulin levels and has even been shown to improve insulin sensitivity. Athletes or anyone who partakes in rigorous physical activity on a regular basis will be most excited to hear that NAC has also been shown to increase the activity of Nitric Oxide (NO) in the body; a gas the body releases in blood vessel walls to improve circulation helping to deliver adequate oxygen and nutrients to the muscle. This, in turn, will help athletes get the most from their workout by decreasing fatigue and boosting performance. Moreover, NAC is most beneficial for athletes through muscle repair. NAC has been known to assist the body during recovery, through influencing the release of Glutathione. I always recommend that my clients supplement with one NAC capsule before a workout, to improve endurance. I also recommend that they consume one NAC capsule after their workout to assist the body with muscle repair. 


Nucleotides are a great supplement to take after surgery or illness to help improve immune function. It is also known to increase energy levels, and most importantly assist the body in healing and maintaining muscle tissue. Nucleotides are the chemical building blocks for the nucleic acids. Some nucleic acids that you may be familiar with are DNA and RNA. Our bodies rely on these nucleic acids to provide cells with genetic information while also influencing cell production and improving oxygen transport. These cells then use DNA to produce structural and functional proteins; in other words to heal or build tissue, like your muscle.

Aside from assistance in recovery, Nucleotides and NAC alike are also known to help promote lean body-mass by optimizing the muscle-to-fat ratio through protein synthesis. Nucleotides have even been known to increase HDL (good) cholesterol. Nucleotides also have a positive impact on intestinal health, as they are known to help fuel healthy gut flora, or probiotics; normal-healthy gut bacteria that protect us from infection, promote good digestion and block the activities of yeast. Improved gut health increases our ability to absorb all of these imperative nutrients like amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. 

Although the positives clearly outweigh the negatives associated with increased physical activity, athletes often have to be very careful in order to avoid injury and even illness. Fortunately, research has shown that nucleotides prevent the immune system suppression that is commonly seen in elite and endurance athletes, and as result decrease their risk of upper respiratory tract infection. More specifically, nucleotides counteract the stress athletes place on their bodies during physical activity. Furthermore, nucleotides are a wonderful supplement that all serious athletes should take after a workout to increase recovery time, and decrease risk of injury.


Assisting Scientific Director and Pharmacist Jerry Hickey is a team of nutritional professionals - a group of hand chosen, dedicated experts, available at each and every InVite® Health retail location - there to provide you with a FREE, personalized, and professional nutritional consultation. Visit an InVite® Health retail location near you for assistance in selecting the correct nutrients to address your health concerns.

You can also e-mail an InVite® Nutritionist or call us directly with any of your nutritional questions. The InVite® Health team is always available to assist you.