Welcome to Day 10 of our Devoted New Year series! Today we are talking about supplements! These posts are brought to you by Meridith creator of Devoted Training; a 52 week faith-based training journal, and myself. We hope you enjoy!
It is always best to get your nutrients from real, whole foods, but sometimes athletes like a little insurance, especially if they are training hard. If you have questions, talk to your doctor before taking supplements, and be aware that pregnancy or breastfeeding can influence what’s good for you in those stages of life.
This is not an exhaustive list, so if you don’t see a favorite supplement on our list, that doesn’t mean that it’s not helpful for you. For the basics, a multivitamin is helpful, and if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, a prenatal will make sure that you are covered. Some supplements like iron and calcium are best taken at separate times, so make sure to research the timing of any supplement regimen that you decide to adopt.
Below are a few common supplements for runners. Read the descriptions and see if this is something that would be helpful for you. Not all supplements are helpful for all runners, just like every runner has a unique gait and pace.
Helps build bones; also helps the heart, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels work. Calcium is shown to reduce the risk of acquiring stress fractures by strengthening bones.
Helps with protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. Is crucial for energy production, muscle function, protein synthesis and insulin metabolism.
Plays an important role in maintaining proper bone structure. Sunshine helps our bodies produce vitamin D, and then it is stored in body fat for future use, but a surprising number of people are still deficient, especially in winter months.
Helps the body produce hemoglobin, which helps oxygen get to the lungs and muscles. Athletes experiencing unusual fatigue should check out whether low iron could be the culprit. For females, the menstrual cycle can create low iron levels, and runners who pound the pavement cause hemolysis, damaging red blood cells.
Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation and joint pain.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid shown to help runners fatigue less when doing high intensity by reducing lactate concentration in competing adults; improves working capacity, VO2, and lactate threshold. (If you take protein powder, this is likely already in the mix.)
Glutamine is an amino acid that promotes muscle glycogen synthesis, which helps speed recovery. It is also used to help the immune system. (If you take protein powder, this is likely already in the mix.)
Branched chain amino acids are found in meat (or pills) and help prevent muscle breakdown, improve muscle recovery, and boost the immune system. (If you take protein powder, this is likely already in the mix.)
Casein protein powder
Is a slow digesting milk protein, which translates to a slow but steady release of amino acids into circulation. Casein is a perfect protein to consume before bed because it promotes a sustained anti-catabolic environment while you rest.
Whey protein powder
Is a fast digesting milk protein, which results in a large increase of plasma amino acids for increased protein synthesis. Also has higher levels of the amino acid leucine, which stimulates protein synthesis. Whey protein is very effective to be consumed before or after a workout, although it is best followed by a meal within 20-60 minutes because it’s effects are short lived.
Is a great supplement for helping make tendons stronger and relieving joint pain. Ideally runners would eat it about an hour before strength or shortly after strength.
Electrolytes are necessary for your digestive, cardiac, muscular and nervous systems to function well. Heavy sweating (or diarrhea if you are really unlucky) can impair the balance of electrolytes.
There are a lot of superfoods that you may have to go out of your way to consume, but the benefits may be worth it (even if you only benefit from the placebo effect). Some great superfoods to try are: tart cherry, pomegranate, beets, and maca powder.
Be aware that you are likely (hopefully) already covering your bases with proper nutrition. So if this list feels overwhelming, rest assured that you probably don’t need to fill your medicine cabinet. But if you are in an intense cycle of training, it may be worth researching if any of these supplements could give your body the boost it needs.
How many of these supplements do you already consume? Any that we should add to the list?
Glucosamine! I guess the scientific evidence is somewhat ambiguous, but anecdotally I was having some knee pain when I first started running daily a few years ago, and it went away after I started taking glucosamine. Maybe I should try a few weeks without it now, to further experiment…