Instead of packing on mass or building explosive strength, endurance athletes require a different package of supplements compared to bodybuilders or impact athletes. The best for endurance athletes are supplements which fuel the body for an extended period of time and accelerate recovery.
Here's our quick and easy guide to the best supplements for optimal performance for endurance sports!
Using energy supplements can increase energy, vigour, alertness, focus and power. Stimulant energy boosters provide a more instant energy boost and can sometimes help with fat burning too! Caffeine is great before endurance sports as it promotes muscle contraction and aerobic endurance, improves focus, boosts muscle strength, intensity and fat loss during workouts, working especially well with green tea extract which boosts metabolism and promotes fat loss.
Meal Replacement Bars
Meal replacement bars can contain more calories, carbohydrates and protein than other typical energy sources used by athletes such as energy drinks and this comes in useful further into the endurance training. The carbs will help prevent fatigue by making sure your muscles receive sufficient energy without the comedown experienced with sugars. Not only that but being a solid food they will satisfy that urge to eat and keep you fuller for longer!
Beta alanine is an amino acid which increases carnosine in the muscles which is needed to regulate Ph as too much acid results in muscle fatigue. Research shows that it reduces fatigue thereby improving performance, endurance and strength as well as improving aerobic activity and lean body mass. Studies have shown that beta-alanine supplements increase muscle carnosine concentrations by 58% in four weeks and 80% in 10 weeks.
L-Glutamine accounts for more than 60% of the free amino acid pool however, there is evidence that our body cannot produce enough glutamine during times of stress, as occurs during intense exercise. Endurance athletes can often suffer low glutamine levels results in muscle breakdown, diminished immune function and reduced performance. Supplementing glutamine can decrease protein degradation, exercise induced muscle damage and improve performance in endurance sports. It is recommended that endurance athletes supplement 6-8grams of glutamine pre-training, 0.5grams an hour during training and another dose post-workout to aid recovery
Creatine has been shown to benefit both anaerobic and aerobic performance. Although it can be found in natural food sources such as lean meat and fish it is removed when cooked so creatine supplements help boost intake to increase energy to the muscles, improve strength and increase intensity and duration of endurance training by hydrating cells. Some people however may be non-responsive to creatine either due to their body’s tolerance to absorbing the supplement or the individual may already produce high levels of it naturally making extra creatine supplementation unnecessary.
During endurance activity, branch chain amino acid levels decrease. BCAAs are essential for aerobic metabolism and may have endurance enhancing qualities for greater than 3 hours. They are taken up by skeletal muscle which utilises an amino acid which reduces fatigue where a decline in BCAA can result in muscle fatigue.
Whey Protein Isolate
Contains all of the essential amino acids and has 25% higher BCAAs than other protein forms. Whey is great for endurance athletes because it is absorbed quickly, has ergogenic effects aiding performance during high intensity training and reduces muscle damage taken post-workout.
The body sources energy for endurance sports from glycogen, a stored form of carbohydrate. Intense glycogen breakdown will result in fatigue and a reduction in training intensity. In order to prevent this, endurance athletes benefit the most from a 70% carb diet with research showing an athlete consuming a high-carb diet can exercise for much longer therefore carbohydrate supplements can significantly aid performance.
Electrolytes are a group of ions that carry impulses to keep the body functioning. The primary elements comprising electrolytes are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, hydrogen phosphate, and hydrogen carbonate. Electrolytes are key for performance to facilitate muscle contraction and hydration. Without them you may muscle weakness, cramping and dehydration whereby water alone is not sufficient rehydration without electrolytes
Canned Oxygen such as booost is a simple but effective recovery supplement. It’s a pressurised can of 99.5% oxygen with 0.5% peppermint flavouring (there is only 21% oxygen in the air) it gets oxygen into your body, the fastest way possible, allowing you to get your breath back quicker after intense exercise. It can be used before, during and after to aid recovery. Research has shown that it can increase performance by over 17%
This article was written by Michael Taylor. Michael is a qualified personal trainer from Leicester. In 2012 he setup Mind, Body and Fitness, a leading personal training and supplements provider.