SPORTS nutrition often gets a bad rap. Mention using protein shakes and creatine to anybody outside of the gym environment and they’ll likely put you down as a bodybuilding meathead with some figure issues and an obsessive cure.

I’m one of those anybody’s outside the gym environment.

Despite being what you may call a ‘sporty person’ – I play football, cycle to work, go jogging – I’ve never been into the whole gym thing, and I’ve never used sports nutrition.

I’m just not in the market for a six pack and huge arms. I’ve read the magazines, that three minute ab routine that will have you looking like the cover model in less than six weeks sounds like a right old toil, even with the sensationalised results.

But can sports nutrition be more than a body-sculpting tool? Can it help non-elite athletes be better at sport?

Elite Athelte ImageElite atheltes use Maximuscle, but what about the rest of us?

The experiment

Can I, with the help of sports nutrition, run a half marathon under 90 minutes?

I’m not a complete running novice. I ran the Amsterdam marathon in three hours 29 minutes in 2010, but my fitness has plummeted since.

Currently, I don’t ‘train’ as such. I play football once a week, I cycle virtually everywhere I go in Greater Manchester, and I occasionally go for a 5-7k run if I feel like I’ve had a particularly unhealthy couple of weeks. But that’s about it.

So here’s the plan.

I will train three times a week for three months. There’s no structured schedule for my training because I’ve never used one in the past. This experiment is to find out if sports nutrition can increase my race performance, so I’m going to keep everything else consistent to improve validity and reliability.

The products

I will be using the following sports nutrition products by Maximuscle:

Promax Shakes - £43.19 (per 30 servings)

To increase my daily protein amount. One or two shakes per day should do the trick, and I’ll always have one following training.

Promax Meal Bar - £25.99 (per 12)

To use as an alternative if I get sick of the shakes, but I’ll avoid using these every day.

Electrotabs - £6.99 (per 15)

Used on my shorter, more intense runs. One tab in 500ml of water is enough. Electrotabs contain no carbs, just electrolytes.

Viper Active - £19.99 (per 25 servings)

On my longer runs lasting over 60 minutes I’ll use Viper Active to replace carbs and fluid.

Recovermax - £29.99 (per 10 servings)

The serious stuff will be used after longer runs to aid recovery. If my run is only short I’ll use Promax instead.

The experts at Maximuscle say my body normally needs 1745 calories per day to tick over – taking into account my height, weight, and age – and that it’ll need 2399 per day to cope with the added exercise on route to my fitness goal.

Maximuscle Product RangeMaximuscle Product Range

So why bother?

I want to find out if sports nutrition actually works for ordinary people like me. Companies such as Maximuscle invest in sponsoring elite athletes and I’m sure at that level of performance sports nutrition can make a difference, but I’m wondering whether the benefits stop there.

Is that bloke sinking protein shakes whilst training for the Great North Run actually getting his 40 quid’s worth? Or is he just the same as that 16 stone accountant at Power League on a Tuesday night, sipping his pre-match Powerade because he’s deluded enough to believe it gives him an extra yard of pace on the pitch?

So what now?

Check back on Body Confidential next month to see how I’m getting on with my experiment, my training, and my opinion of sports nutrition companies.

Useful supplements or lucrative scam? Let’s find out.

You can follow David on Twitter @DavidPMcCourt

To find out more about the Maximuscle product range, visit their website.