Which Supplements for Endurance?
The right supplements can help endurance athletes boost performance, improve recovery, and reduce muscle damage.
Sports supplements aren’t just for bodybuilders and gym-goers. There are supplements devoted to endurance athletes who train and race over long distances. If you play team sport, endurance supplements can help you in training and on match day. And if you are a cyclist, runner, or triathlete, these supplements can help you perform better.
Why Do Endurance Sports Need Supplements?
The mainstay of your sports nutrition should be good food, adequate calories, health and wellbeing. But sports supplements have a valid place in endurance sports. And it goes way beyond energy gels (although we stock those, too).
In endurance sport (45+ minutes), blood flow increases to muscles. Your body burns carbs and fats for fuel, and your system gets better at using oxygen. These processes means you must pay attention to carbohydrate and protein intake, micronutrients, gut health, and hydration.
Sports Supplements For Endurance Athletes
The right choice of natural supplements can increase energy metabolism, and reduce perceived effort. Supplements can also reduce muscle damage, keep you well hydrated, and help boost recovery.
Carbohydrate Drink Supplements
You need enough carbohydrates to fuel training and recovery. Eating carbs is important, but so is taking in carbohydrate during training and racing. Stock up on oats for pre-training breakfast. Consider Vitargo or maltodextrin as a faster carb for your post-training drink. Specialist endurance sports drinks contain carbohydrates, electrolytes, and amino acids to fuel your body during longer training sessions.
Caffeine For Endurance Athletes
On days when you feel fatigued, you could take a caffeine-based supplement. This will give you the mental energy and focus you need to tackle a long training session. Caffeine has been heavily researched in endurance athletes. It can improve performance, increase focus, and even reduce your RPE (rate of perceived exertion). Caffeine supplements could help you increase your pace, or go further, for the same perceived effort.
Creatine has benefits for endurance athletes, by improving training performance during intense interval-type sessions. Creatine has been shown to help with power, which translates into faster sprints. If your sport sometimes comes down to a sprint finish, consider creatine in your year-round supplement stack.
Beta Alanine Supplements
Beta-alanine is a cost-effective supplement. It can buffer lactic acid, helping to reduce feelings of fatigue. This simple supplement could help you work harder at higher intensities, leading to greater training adaptations.
Whey Protein Powder and RTDs
Endurance athletes need protein too! Whey protein is not just for bodybuilders. Protein is crucial for muscle recovery and repair. As you know, endurance sport puts a lot of stress on your muscles, creating micro-tears which need to repair. Protein which is quickly digested (like whey protein isolate) after training helps the body adapt to training stimulus. You need to eat (or drink) protein throughout the day, rather than in two or three larger meals. Protein shakes and powders make this easy and convenient.
Hydration & Electrolytes
It is easy to be slightly dehydrated when you train and race over long distances. Even a 2% drop in bodyweight due to dehydration can impact your performance. Use endurance sport hydration supplements which are formulated to include key electrolytes. Some products also include carbohydrates and amino acids to support training. Hydration supplements are usually powders or tablets which dissolve in water.
B Vitamins For Endurance Sport
B-vitamins help your body metabolise carbohydrate correctly, which is of obvious benefit to hard-working endurance athletes. Choose a B-vitamin complex which will help you get all the B-vitamins you need in one day supplement.
Cherry Extract Supplements
Research into Montmorency tart cherry is still quite new, but it is compelling. The long list of elite endurance sports teams (including cyclists, triathletes, and rugby teams) who use tart cherry extract should convince you. Why is it good for endurance athletes? It has been shown to be a valuable antioxidant which reduces inflammation and muscle damage caused by endurance activity. It is excellent for recovery and might help keep you in the endurance game for longer.
Multivitamins & Digestive Health Supplements
Finally, you need to cover all your nutritional bases when you work hard as an endurance athlete. Food is usually not enough. It is easy to be deficient in key minerals and vitamins, like vitamin D, the B-vitamins, iron, and magnesium. Cover your bases with a quality multivitamin. Your body needs a full spectrum of micronutrients for robust health. Make sure it contains digestive enzymes, to keep your gut healthy. GI issues are common amongst endurance athletes, and if your gut is not functioning properly you will struggle to absorb nutrients and calories from your food.
If you need to stock up on carbohydrate, hydration, health, or energy supplements for your endurance sport, take a look here.