Our second installment of Supplement Sundays brings us to discuss the topic of Sports and Fitness supplementation. Exercise is a big part of living a healthy lifestyle, and while these types of supplements may not always be a necessity including them can definitely enhance your workout performance and recovery periods. You definitely do not need to be a pro-bodybuilder or marathon runner to take these, though. Here we’re focusing on getting the most out of your exercise routine and helping you to feel your best both during and after your workout.
Once again, regardless of the benefits we claim here do not take any new product without consulting your own doctor or healthcare practitioner beforehand, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions or health complications.
“Pre-workout” Labeled Supplements (Types & Common Ingredients):
There are many varieties of these in the market, and not all are created equal. These are taken with the intention to increase energy, strength, enhance focus and endurance to result in a better workout. Here we’ll look at some variations and a few typically-found ingredients:
Stimulant vs. Non-stimulant – Many pre-workouts contain stimulants, normally caffeine, which stimulate the nervous system resulting in heightened heart rate, increased energy and focus. The amounts and sources vary, so read each label carefully beforehand. If you are sensitive to caffeine or prefer to get it separately from coffee/tea, non-stimulant pre-workouts are a good alternative that have no neurological effects, but still enhance workout performance.
Nitric Oxide Boosters – Nitric Oxide (N.O.) is produced by the cells that line your blood vessels, when released it improves blood flow and circulation. During exercise this blood flow can go to the muscles being used, giving you a “pump”. Foods naturally high in nitrates can also enhance N.O. levels, such as beets, spinach and kale.
L-Arginine – An amino acid that can stimulate N.O. production as well as improve blood flow, lowers blood pressure and increase energy.
Beta-Alanine – Known for increasing muscle endurance by reducing acid build-up and maintaining optimal pH levels.
L-Taurine – Shown to increase cognitive energy, reduce oxidative stress and decrease muscle fatigue to increase workout length.
Suggested Use: Most commonly, Pre-Workouts come in powder form that you mix with 6-12oz of water. Drink them 15-30 minutes prior to working out, or per the recommended use found on the individual product. We do not cover all possible ingredients here, so be cautious if taking something you’re unfamiliar with and start with ½ the serving size.
Recommended Product: Garden of Life Pre-workout
One of the most well-known supplements for any type of athletic goal, Protein Powder has become a huge market with options such as plant-based options, whey, casein, blends, meal-replacements and more. To help you choose which specific one may be best for you we’re dedicating a post solely to explaining the different types and uses. Keep an eye out for that one soon!
This supplement stand for Branched Chained Amino Acids (BCAAs), namely leucine, isoleucine and valine. Muscles can use these specific amino acids directly as energy during workouts, so supplementing with it offsets muscle fatigue. Taking BCAAs have also shown to promote muscle protein synthesis, preservation of lean body mass during weight loss, and improve muscle recovery.
Suggested Use: To experience the muscle-focused energy, including BCAAs to your pre-workout routine can be beneficial. However, taking them at any point of day, even on days you don’t exercise, still show to have positive effects on muscle preservation and recovery.
Recommended Product: Jarrow BCAA
The most abundant free form amino acid in the body, Glutamine is important for supporting a variety of functions including: immune health, preventing muscle catabolism (muscle protein breakdown), improving muscle growth and recovery, as well as supporting glycogen storage and nitrogen balance.
Suggested Use: It is recommended to take 2-5g/day of L- Glutamine in order to experience its benefits. The timing is not incredibly important, however many people like to incorporate it into their post-workout routine.
Recommended Product: Pure Encapsulations L-Glutamine Powder
Vitamins and Minerals:
The American Diet is low in many essential vitamins and minerals; for any type of athlete this becomes a greater issue and more nutrients are necessary when exerting more energy. Some important ones for athletic performance are:
Zinc for improving immunity, endurance and supporting healthy testosterone levels
Magnesium for reducing muscle cramps, aiding recovery, endurance and replenishing electrolyte levels
Calcium for bone strength/density and proper muscle contractions
B vitamins for proper energy and hormone function
Vitamin D for immunity, bone health and fracture prevention.
To easily ensure you’re getting all these, plus other important nutrients everyday. we suggest taking a quality multivitamin, that will allow for daily support of proper nutrient levels.
Suggested Use: We suggest including a multivitamin in your morning routine, and take it with your first meal of the day which will help the nutrients be absorbed better.
Recommended Product: Natural Factors WHOLE Multivitamin (Men + Women)
Many studies have shown consuming tart cherry juice to be beneficial for a variety of athletes due to its impact on recovery. Consuming cherry juice encourages better sleep by increasing melatonin levels, reduces overall muscle pain or soreness by fighting inflammation and decreases muscle damage by lessening oxidative stress caused through exercise.
Suggested Use: A normal dose is 1 fluid oz of tart cherry juice concentrate taken once or twice a day. Consuming it pre/post-workout or prior to going to sleep show to have the most impact on recovery and performance.
Recommended Product: Pure Planet Tart Cherry Concentrate
Many herbs can also have benefits for athletes, whether for energy or recovery. Here are a few we are keen to:
Boswellia – From the plant of Frankincense, Boswellia is good for treating pain and encourages healthy inflammatory responses by inhibiting specific enzyme function, supports joint health and blood flow.
Green tea – The more common benefits of Green Tea are its antioxidant content, metabolism and energy support. But, it has also shown to have a muscle-building effect for those who strength train, as well as aid maintenance of muscle mass.
American Ginseng – Considered an adaptogen, American Ginseng proves to be great in supporting supporting stamina, endurance and reaction time. Other benefits for athletes include supporting oxygen uptake and healthy metabolism of lactic acid, fighting muscle damage and soreness.
Eleuthero – Another adaptogen, Eleuthero can supply a lot of energy by supporting proper use of glycogen, ADP and ATP (what provide cells with energy). Similar to American Ginseng, it also promotes metabolism of lactic acid plus pyruvic acid for enhanced energy production and decreased muscle damage or soreness.
Maca – One of the most popular adaptogens, Maca is used to enhance overall performance, stamina and energy. This root can also affect hormones, increasing libidio in both men and women.
Burdock Root – One of the best detoxifying herbs, Burdock Root is great at preventing build-up and pulling out uric acid caused by strenuous exercise. This encourages proper joint and muscle health.
Suggested Use: Most of these herbs are specifically beneficial to be taken a short period prior to a workout for energy purposes. Double check the recommended use on the individual product before taking it, though.
Recommended Products: While with herbs there are many different forms, blends and products some we like for this group are the Vega Maca Capsules and Pure Planet Ginseng Plus
This list is definitely not all there is to Sports & Fitness-focused supplements, however it is comprehensive in benefits and provides many natural ways to enhance athletic performance. If you have any questions or want to learn more about these products stop by the store and one of our nutritionists will happily assist you!