Whether you are an endurance athlete, thinking about getting back into working out, or you’re stuck in a fitness plateau, incorporating the right supplements into your routine can give you just the support you need to meet your goals. There are hundreds of supplements on the market, and many of them are targeted at athletes. Some are designed to help with endurance, while others enhance muscle growth. To add to the confusion, there’s vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbal supplements.
The more intense your sport is, the higher your body’s nutritional needs will be. For example, athletes that are into endurance sports will have specific needs because of the high demand that put on their bodies. Athletes also lose more electrolytes than less active people, so they need more magnesium, sodium, and potassium.
So, how do you know which supplements you actually need? Here’s our list of the top seven supplements every athlete should know about to help you decide.
Multivitamins and Minerals
Here are some of the most essential vitamins and minerals for athletes.
- Vitamin E: This is an important antioxidant, especially for athletes. It can help to decrease oxidative damage to the muscle tissues.
- Vitamin D and Calcium: Vitamin D assists the body in absorbing calcium. Calcium is essential for proper hormone production. Hormonal decline can lead to bone issues like osteoporosis. If you don’t consume dairy products regularly, you should consider adding a calcium supplement. And, although Vitamin D comes from the sun, you may want to consider supplementing in the winter time.
- Zinc: This essential mineral assists in converting food to energy and aids in post-workout tissue repair.
- Selenium: This free radical scavenging tripeptide is vital for athletes because it helps to repair damage to the cells and improve immune function.
- Potassium: Potassium is essential for recovery and controlling muscle cramps and contractions. Unfortunately, it is lost through both urine and sweat.
- Magnesium: Muscle cramps, nausea, and fatigue can all result from magnesium deficiencies. It’s also important for relaxing muscles and remineralizing bones.
- Iron: If you’re a casual athlete who works out a couple times a week, you probably don’t need an iron supplement. However, iron deficiency anemia is more common in athletes who work out six hours or more each week. You should have your iron levels checked yearly to see if you are lacking in this essential nutrient.
- B Vitamins: B Vitamins are important for energy production, red blood cell production, and DNA synthesis.
- Vitamin C: This vitamin is a well-known immune booster. Athletes should up their Vitamin C intake because strenuous exercise can weaken the immune system.
So, should you take every vitamin and mineral on this list? Probably not. For example, if you eat plenty of Vitamin C rich foods, like citrus fruits and leafy greens, you may not need to take additional Vitamin C. Talk with your doctor and examine your diet to decide what you really need. Then, work with one of the top custom vitamin companies to create a regimen just for you. They’ll send you exactly what you need each month and eliminate the guesswork.
Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
If your goal is to add lean muscle, you do high-interval cardio training (HIIT), or you do intermittent fasting, you should know about branch chain amino acids. A branch chain amino acid contains three amino acids: valine, isoleucine, and leucine, plus a carbon atom. Together, they can help your body produce protein. When you lift weights or do an intense workout like HIIT, your body breaks down muscle, and protein is essential for muscle building and repair. If you are consuming enough protein, then you may not need to supplement BCAAs. However, if you are a high endurance athlete, your body might benefit from additional BCAAs. You can find BCAAs in powder, shake, or bar form.
Athletes can benefit from creatine because it can give your body an energy boost, which means better performance in the gym or during sports. The body naturally produces the amino acids in creatine. However, if you are working out a lot, or participating in high endurance sports, you may not be able to consume enough creatine in your diet alone. Popular creatine supplements include shakes, power bars, or pills. If you already eat a lot of tuna, salmon, or other fatty fish and poultry, you may not need to supplement your creatine intake.
Casein protein is a little different from other proteins recommended for athletes because it releases slowly, allowing the amino acids to stay in the body longer. It’s also great for burning fat, building muscle, and boosting your metabolism. If your goal is to build muscle and burn fat, this might be the supplement for you. You can get it in decent amounts by eating cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, or you can find it in protein bars and shakes made for athletes.
Whey protein is a popular supplement often used after resistance training to help build muscle. It can also help burn fat and aid metabolism. Whey protein is often incorporated into shakes for athletes.
Glutamine offers some of the same benefits as whey protein, but it can also fight catabolism or the breakdown of the complex molecules in your body’s muscles. If you’re looking to up your weight lifting game, this might be a good one to try on your resistant lifting days.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3s are good for your heart, and they provide fuel for your muscles. They also regulate your heart rate, stabilize hormone levels, and even lower your blood pressure. If that’s not enough to convince you, they are also crucial for mental health. You can boost your Omega 3 intake simply by eating more fatty fish, but if fish isn’t your thing, there are plenty of fish oil supplements on the market.
If you want to perform at your best, you should consider a daily supplement regimen to help boost your health and energy. Supplements can help you look, feel, and perform better than ever by providing the essential nutrients your body needs.