In this day and age, of body image, muscles, and physical performance, many look to dietary supplements to satisfy a specific need. Supplements are not just for putting on muscle mass.
Endurance athletes truly look to supplements to not only help with training but, most importantly, recovery. Endurance athletes require a fine balance of strength and endurance, which can only be achieved by years of strategic training and dieting. Endurance supplements can and should be an integral part of this balance. Yet, what is marketed to runners, swimmers, and cyclist is a variety of sports drinks, power bars and gels that are offered en masse in retailers from coast to coast. All of these things fuel the body during (intra) grueling training sessions or intense competitions, but most of them only ensure that the body is able to make it through a competition, and nothing more.
Strategic Dietary Supplement Benefits
I have used supplements for more than three decades, and I swear by them. From the basics, such as protein and creatine to specialized ingredients, the benefits are many and profound. Incorporating a strategic dietary supplement regimen has the following benefits, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Increases endurance and strength
- Reduces inflammation
- Improves sleep quality
- Regulates blood pressure and increases blood flow by dilating arteries
- Assists the immune system of Endurance athletes typically spend hours training. Triathletes typically log 50-60 miles of running per week, more than 200 miles a week on the bike, and hundreds of laps in the pool. This sheer volume of training, as well as a couple of resistance-training sessions per week, means that endurance athletes should be paying extremely close attention to their diet and supplementation.
Endurance training puts extreme demands on athletes’ bodies from a physical, mental and energy standpoint. As if the time required to train for endurance activities wasn’t enough, throw in the time required to prep and eat nutrient-dense foods to replenish energy, and you quickly run out of hours in the day. Thankfully, with the right supplement regimen, you can shave time off your prep time, boost your performance and recovery, and get on your way to crushing your next event. Here’s my list of the top supplement’s endurance athletes should consider, among others. These can all be found at your favorite natural product’s retailers.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
BCAAs refer to a group of essential amino acids. These include leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Although amino acids are the building blocks of protein, your body can’t actually produce them. As such, they must be consumed as part of your daily diet. BCAAs have been shown to have the most benefit in recovery, either from muscle damage or fatigue. These are best taken during a workout or as a post-workout drink. Add some electrolytes to assist with hydration.
Creatine supplementation and endurance exercise aren’t typically linked in the same sentence. We think of creatine in terms of strength, speed and power—and for a good reason.
There are hundreds of published research studies supporting creatine’s use as an effective ergogenic aid for improving muscular strength and size. While many will argue, creatine has no place in an endurance athlete’s supplement regimen, that is not necessarily the case. Creatine plays a critical role in the production of energy and the process of building muscle tissue.
Flavonoid Root Improves Cardiovascular Health
Flavonoid Root is a breakthrough extract that significantly improves cardiovascular health and the flow of oxygen-rich blood through the arteries. This extract is supported by new science that provides unmatched antioxidant properties and powerful cardiovascular health benefits, including increased flow of oxygen-rich blood. Recently, the results from a 94-person double-blind, placebo-controlled study were published in the scientific journal Food and Nutrition Research (April 2016). The study examined the effect of a unique Flavonoid Root Extract on the thickness of the artery wall using CIMT (carotid intima-media thickness). CIMT is considered a strong indicator of overall cardiovascular and arterial health.
Following one year of flavonoid root extract consumption, mean CIMT, total cholesterol, LDL levels and blood pressure decreased. This suggests that this ingredient may attenuate the development of oxidation and of related cerebral vascular issues. This extract acts like a nitric oxide (NO) booster, supporting increased blood flow and oxygen to the skeletal muscle for increased performance. Furthermore, this extract will facilitate the removal of exercise-induced lactic acid build-up, which reduces fatigue and recovery time in endurance athletes.
Glycine Propionyl-L-Carnitine (GPLC)
GPLC consists of a molecular bonded form of propionyl-L-carnitine and one of the carnitine precursor amino acids, glycine. It is marketed as GlycoCarn through Sigma-tau HealthScience. Two recent studies have demonstrated an increase in blood levels of NO with oral GPLC intake, at a daily dosage of 4.5 grams (Bloomer et al., 2007; in press). These findings agree with other recent works using PLC exclusively (Lofreddo etal., 2007), which demonstrated an increase in blood NO in response to 6 grams per day of PLC given via intravenous infusion.
NO supplementation can help anyone, but it is especially beneficial for people over the age of 40. People under 40 are in their prime physical years. Their muscles, cells, and tissues are quick and efficient at releasing and producing NO to carry out different bodily processes. NO boosters are not crucial for this demographic.
Nonetheless, when I was doing triathlons in my prime physical years, I would take NO boosters intra-race and would feel a noticeable difference in my energy and endurance. It was truly remarkable.
It wasn’t that long ago that protein powders and other sports nutrition supplements were the exclusive territories of bodybuilders and elite athletes. Today, the story is quite different. In a matter of a few short years, the sports nutrition market has expanded into one that offers fitness and lifestyle support for consumers of every level of athletic ability, from triathletes to weekend warriors to senior citizens and beyond. According to U.K.-based market researcher Technavio, the American sports nutrition market will surpass $8 billion by 2019, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 7 percent.
Driving this growth, Technavio reported, is a growing appetite for fitness among the general population, paired with the increasing popularity of fitness regimens and programs overall, including endurance. But despite an evolving sports nutrition market, one constant remains: protein is still the category’s largest player. Of the total $6.7 billion American sports nutrition market in 2015, according to Euromonitor International, protein products (bars, powders and ready-to-drink options) are the most popular by far, at almost 90 percent of the market. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), humans need to.