Most athletes are very well aware of how valuable nutrition is to enhance their performance and smash their own personal records. A healthy diet combined with proper and safe training is the foundation for achieving fitness success, but sometimes the body needs that extra oomph to keep stamina, energy, and mental focus running at an optimal level. This is why the world’s best runners turn to supplements. In order to supply their bodies with an adequate supply of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Athletes are also turning to nutritional pills to help alleviate some of the strain that intensive exercise puts on the bones, joints, and muscles.
If you are planning on becoming the next Usain Bolt, these are a few endurance and recovery supplements to invest in.
Nutrition Is Crucial
Before diving into the ultimate performance supplements, it is important to know that proper nutrition and diet supersedes any form of capsule. Whether you are training for an 18-mile marathon or just like to casually jog around the neighborhood for fun, you won’t make it very far without a balanced diet.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, for any athlete to perform their best physically they require a sufficient supply of fluids, calories, carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals.
- Carbohydrates: roughly 1.4 to 4.5 g/lb bodyweight
- Protein: roughly 0.55 to 0.9 g/lb bodyweight
- Fat: roughly 20% to 35% of total calories
These figures are not set in stone, the ratios also depend on your work out schedule and how intensive your training is. Individuals who follow high volume to moderate training schedules up to 3 hours a day 6 days a week will require a higher intake of protein and carbohydrates. Roughly 55 to 65% of your diet should be made up of unrefined carbohydrates to replace glycogen in the liver and muscles and to maintain healthy blood glucose levels.
As for vitamins and minerals, research reveals that a vitamin deficiency can have a negative impact on performance. Anything less than a third of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of essential B and C vitamins may lead to a notable drop in VO2 max (oxygen consumption) and anaerobic threshold (when the body switches from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism during exercise) within as little as four weeks. Fortunately, supplements can help runners bridge the nutrient gap.
If you prefer a low carb high-fat approach such as the keto diet, don’t worry, your nutritional needs have not been forgotten. There are two variations of the keto diet that have been specifically formulated to meet your carbohydrate needs during and after intensive workouts. For the average athlete, the targeted keto diet allows for 20 to 30 grams of carbs up to an hour before workouts. Those who train more extensively will benefit from following the cyclical ketogenic diet, which allows for 1 or 2 days of much higher carbohydrate consumption.
Vitamin Supplements For Runners
While diet is essential for any type of athletic activity, sometimes it is difficult to get all the nutrients and vitamins we require through diet alone. For example, if you are following a meat-free lifestyle, it may be difficult to get all the protein your body requires every day to build the muscle you want. This is where supplements come in handy. They are by no means a magic potion to get you on the international Olympic Team in less than a month, but rather a tool that can be used to boost your energy levels, performance, and overall health. These are a few recommendations of holistic and natural supplements that can up your game and help you recover post-workout.
Iron is a crucial component in the production of hemoglobin. If our bodies do not have an adequate supply of iron, they can’t make enough red blood cells, which transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of our body. This is a crucial nutrient for runners as it may help to improve VO2 max levels, which ultimately helps to boost overall athletic performance.
Roughly 10 million people in the United States are iron deficient meaning that it is a fairly common nutrient we are lacking in our diets. The common causes of this deficiency could be due to the following reasons:
- Heavy or prolonged menstrual periods
- Peptic ulcers
- Blood loss from blood donations or trauma
- You are on medications that deplete iron
While females are more susceptible to developing a deficiency due to monthly bleeding, studies suggest that runners, in general, may also be susceptible to an iron deficiency. The exact reason behind this theory is not clear but research suggests that it may have something to do with excessive sweating over a long period of time. If you have noticed that you are not as fast as you used to be in previous races, feel like you are short of breath, or experience dizzy spells, it might be time to up your iron intake. Schedule an appointment with your health care provider before taking iron supplements to determine the correct dosage first.
Moringa Oleifera has been labeled the superfood of our era and is another supplement runners should have in their arsenal. The Moringa or Drumstick tree is native to the Himalayas and is harvested for its numerous nutritional and medicinal properties. To give you an idea of just how super this food is, here is a glance at the plant’s nutritional value:
- Vitamin A – 16.3 mg
- Vitamin B1 – 2.6 mg
- Vitamin B2 – 20.5 mg
- Vitamin B3 – 8.2 mg
- Vitamin C – 17.3 mg
- Vitamin E – 113.0 mg
- Calcium – 2003 mg
- Iron – 28.2 mg
- Magnesium – 368 mg
- Potassium – 1324 mg
- Protein – 27.1 g
Just to put this into perspective, Moringa contains 15 times more potassium than what bananas provide and 10 times more vitamin A than what carrots provide.
Benefits of Moringa Supplements For Athletes
One of the many reasons why moringa is a helpful supplement for most athletes is because of its protein content. The leaf alone contains approximately 30% of various types of proteins which are essential for building muscle. This is especially beneficial for those who follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. Plants tend to be a healthier source of protein because they have a higher nutrient and fiber content and do not contain as many calories as meat products.
The moringa plant also contains potent anti-fatigue properties. Research has found that the moringa plant shows promising results for reducing fatigue during physical activity by elevating hemoglobin levels and reducing lactic acid, urea, and triglyceride levels. The study also showed that moringa boosted glycogen reserves by increasing the mobilization of fatty acids, which in turn, provides more fuel for the body during vigorous workouts.
Other than building muscle and keeping you awake during a marathon, the moringa plant contains powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help to alleviate muscle soreness and reduce oxidative stress. Thanks to the high levels of potassium, the moringa plant also helps to replenish electrolyte levels, which helps to stave off dehydration while running.
By taking a supplement that contains a concentrated 4:1 ratio of pure moringa oleifera like Moringa MD, you can improve your overall performance and replenish your body with the vital vitamins and minerals it needs to function optimally.
Performance And Recovery Supplements For Runners
Nitric oxide (NO) is one of the most popular athletic support supplements circulating the market today. Nitric oxide is naturally produced by the body and is involved in multiple cell actions and pathological processes. It is vital for cell signaling and the onset of vasodilation – the relaxing of the inner muscles in the blood vessels causing them to widen. This specific function helps to lower blood pressure and increase blood flow, which is why many runners are turning to this supplement.
Benefits of Nitric Oxide Supplements For Runners
Nitric oxide supplements don’t actually contain the natural gas, instead, they are usually formulated with L-citrulline and L-arginine depending on the manufacturer. Both these ingredients are precursors of nitric oxide and can benefit your work out and overall health in many ways.
L-arginine is a nonessential amino acid that helps to build muscle. Much like naturally occurring NO, L-arginine dilates the blood vessels. The wider the blood vessels, the more nutrients and oxygen are delivered to working muscles during strenuous workouts. Other than enhancing physical performance, studies reveal that L-arginine may decrease symptoms associated with Angina and improve the quality of life for those who suffer from this type of chest pain. Angina is a mild to severe form of chest pain that is caused by a reduced flow of blood to the heart. Some research also suggests that this nonessential amino acid may help lower blood pressure in individuals who suffer from hypertension and increase sexual function in men who suffer from erectile dysfunction.
The second beneficial ingredient in these athletic supplements is L-citrulline. L-citrulline is also a nonessential amino acid and performs similar functions to L-arginine by boosting NO production, but it also helps to relieve muscle pain after physical activity. Studies suggest that citrulline malate, a form of L-citrulline, helps to increase nutrient delivery and eliminate waste products in the body such as ammonia and lactate, which are both related to muscle fatigue.
As we mentioned before, nitric oxide is a very popular performance supplement, however, if you are planning on taking them, it is important to look for a brand that has a well-rounded formula. L-citrulline and L-arginine are great ingredients but in order to boost your performance to the max, we suggest looking into supplements like Nitric Oxide MD, which has other nitrate supporting ingredients such as:
- Beetroot Extract – contains nitrates and important nutrients to enhance performance during workouts.
- Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol) – a potent vasodilator that increases the delivery of blood, nutrients, and oxygen to working muscles.
- Quercetin – A powerful antioxidant that helps to increase nitric oxide and energy production.
- Fenugreek Extract – helps to regulate hormone, glucose, and cholesterol levels.
- Eurycoma Longifolia Extract – enhances testosterone and has a positive impact on male libido.
- Avena Sativa – contains various amino acids, sterols, flavonoids, and saponins to help build muscle strength and boost testosterone levels.
- Tribulus Terrestris – helps to elevate endurance and strength during workouts. It also helps to restore the body during periods of rest.
Omega-3 Fish Oil
Whether you run, lift weights, practice yoga, or just walk around the block once a week, we all need omega-3 in order for our bodies to perform key functions. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid, which means that the body can not produce it on its own and must obtain it from external sources. There are two different types of omega 3 fatty acids that can be sourced from our diets.
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is derived from plant-based foods such as nuts and seeds.
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are derived from oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna.
While both types of omega-3 are beneficial to our health, EPA and DHA are essential for regulating cell activity and cardiovascular function. But this is not the only thing that these long-chain essential fatty acids are famous for. EPA and DHA help lower chronic inflammation and reduces lactic build up in the body, which most runners can agree is something they all need in their arsenal.
Benefits of Omega-3 Supplements For Athletes
When we run or train excessively, microscopic tears start to form in the muscles. During periods of rest post work out, these tiny tears start to repair, which ultimately causes muscles to strengthen. However, if the muscle tears have not healed properly, it could lead to further injury during the next workout session. Marine sourced omega-3 can help offset discomfort or inflammation by blocking the body’s natural inflammatory response and also helps the muscles to recover more efficiently.
One study has shown that marine sourced omega-3 fatty acids may increase fat oxidation and decrease carbohydrate oxidation during strenuous exercise sessions. This means that participants in the study burned fat during the exercise session without depleting the body of the carbohydrates (fuel) it needed to perform the activity, a very promising finding for multisport athletes. If you are looking for more endurance, less soreness in the muscles, and a faster recovery, omega-3 supplements are perfect for you.
We suggest opting for a supplement like Omega-3 MD because it does not contain any preservatives, unknown blends and only contains 100% pharmaceutical grade deep ocean Eicosapentaenoic and Docosahexaenoic acid.
Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and MSM
Your speed and agility will only go as far as your joints will take you, and when they are sore and inflamed this can put a serious damper on your performance. While it is a known fact that running strengthens the bones and muscles, depending on your age, height, running shoes, or weight, it can make you susceptible to joint injury or runners knee (chondromalacia). This is the most reported injury among the athletic community and is usually caused by ongoing strenuous contact between the kneecap or patella and the femur. This usually causes pain and discomfort behind the patella. Another condition most seasoned athletes may experience is a torn meniscus. As you age, the cartilage that acts as a buffer between the tibia and femur gets weaker or thinner, making it more susceptible to injury and damage.
In order to prevent joints and cartilage from wearing out over time, runners are turning to supplements that contain glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM.
Benefits of Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM Supplements For Athletes
Glucosamine is an amino sugar that is naturally found in both animal and human tissues. Its main function is to develop and maintain cartilage within the joints. Chondroitin is a gel/jelly forming polysaccharide that plays a role in the construction and lubrication of cartilage and many of its resistant properties. As we age, glucosamine and chondroitin levels start to drop which causes the cartilage to degenerate, leaving bare bones to rub against each other. This can cause a lot of pain and discomfort.
Studies reveal that supplementing with Glucosamine helps to reduce the breakdown of collagen and cartilage in the knees by almost 27% compared to the placebo group that only saw an 8% reduction. Other studies have demonstrated that chondroitin helps to reduce the activity of specific enzymes responsible for the breakdown of collagen in the joints. Put these two ingredients together and it becomes a powerful defense against the wear and tear of tissues in the joints.
MSM or Methylsulfonylmethane, a common ingredient found in natural arthritis medications, is a chemical compound found in most plants, humans, and animals. Some research has found that this sulfur-containing compound causes a significant reduction in inflammation. It has also been found to prevent the breakdown of cartilage, reduce swelling in the joints, reduce lumbar stiffness, and improve the quality of life for those who suffer from joint and back pain.
The efficiency of a supplement always boils down to quality and the ingredients which is why we recommend using a well-rounded formula like Jointprin.
Handy Locker Room Essential For Athletes
Now that you know what to put in your body, it’s time to look at what to put on your body in order to perform your best at the next marathon.
It’s no secret that athletes and runners alike sweat excessively during strenuous exercise sessions. You just have to sweat to be the best and there is no getting around it. Unfortunately, this excessive sweating could lead to nasty fungal infections like athlete’s foot.
Tinea pedis aptly named athlete’s foot is a rash on the feet caused by fungus. This type of fungus thrives in warm, damp, and dark conditions, which is why the shoe makes the perfect environment. Athlete’s foot usually affects the skin between the toes and can spread further if not treated. Common symptoms of athlete’s foot can include:
- Cracked, scaly red skin between the toes
- Burning or itching sensation between the toes
- A rash that starts to ooze when scratched
- Bad foot odor
- Scaling at the bottom of the foot
Undecylenic acid, which is an organic unsaturated fatty acid found in natural anti-fungal formulas is known to effectively control skin infections caused by the Tinea pedis bacteria. Researchers have revealed that undecylenic acid inhibits the growth of candida and alleviate irritated raw skin that accompanies athletes foot.
If you are prone to this kind of skin infection, there are countless OTC formulas available. However, the most efficient formulas will contain a concentration of at least Undecylenic Acid (25% Usp) and supporting anti-fungal ingredients such as Tocopheryl Acetate, aloe barbadensis, camphor, and juglans nigra. We suggest investing in a well-rounded formula such as Athletol.
Smash Your Personal Best!
Whether you are looking to boost your athletic performance or just want to bridge any nutritional gaps, a healthy diet, and high-quality supplements can help you achieve your goals. If you are a marathon runner, weight lifter, or multisport athlete, the natural supplements we have listed in this post can help boost your energy, build muscle, improve blood flow, and get rid of any fungus lurking in your shoes or the locker room. Each individual is different and may require different nutrients to meet their needs. It is always best to speak to your healthcare provider or dietician first to determine which vitamins and nutrients you need to help you smash your own personal best.