Whether you’re training for a 5k or a marathon, proper nutrition is key. While it’s important to get as many nutrients as you can from whole foods, sometimes, you may need a little extra help.
There are a few supplements on the market that are great for runners. The following seven supplements will help improve your endurance, enhance recovery, and decrease your chances of getting sick or injured during your training sessions.
A multivitamin is great for all runners (and all people, for that matter). It helps you ensure you’re getting sufficient amounts of all the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to repair itself and function properly during your training sessions.
When looking for a multivitamin, be sure to get one that’s specific to your age and gender. This will help you make sure you’re getting what you specifically need. For example, women typically need additional calcium and iron. Men, on the other hand, can often benefit from additional vitamin E.
A little caffeine can go a long way, especially for long morning runs. A simple cup of coffee or green tea can help give you the boost you need, but there are also pre-workout supplements and powders you can take instead if you prefer.
If you choose to drink coffee or tea before your workout, consider drinking it black or with just a little bit of sugar in it. Some people find that a drink that has a lot of high-calorie creamer in it can make them feel sick or bloated while they run.
Glutamine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in your body. It’s found in the blood plasma and muscle tissue, and it functions as fuel for the immune cells.
When you exercise and put your body through physical stress, you can deplete your body’s levels of glutamine, so supplementation can be helpful, especially if you’re doing a lot of long or intense runs.
Glutamine supplementation specifically helps promote better muscle recovery, improves your endurance, and keeps your cells healthy and functioning properly.
A healthy gut (digestive tract) can promote a healthy immune system (the majority of your immune system is actually found in your gut). It also promotes a healthy nervous system and healthy hormone production.
When your gut bacteria is unbalanced, you may see an increase in inflammation in your body. This, in turn, can lead to poor recovery after your workouts.
A probiotic (beneficial bacteria) supplement can help balance out your gut bacteria. Look for a probiotic that needs to be refrigerated; this helps to ensure the good bacteria is alive when it reaches your gut.
L-carnitine is a beneficial supplement for people who are running to try and lose weight. L-carnitine is an amino acid derivative that helps break down body fat to provide the body’s cells with energy.
Many people find that they feel more energized when they consume l-carnitine; this, in turn, helps them burn extra calories and run farther or faster than they could otherwise.
L-carnitine is not a magical supplement; it won’t do the work for you. But, it can provide you with a little boost if you’re looking to shed some excess weight.
Calcium is essential for all runners, as they have a tendency to put a lot of strain on their bones and soft tissues. Calcium supplementation helps promote bone regeneration and muscle and joint repair. It’s especially beneficial for runners who deal with stress fractures or other injuries on a frequent basis.
When supplementing with calcium, be sure to find one that contains vitamin D and magnesium, too. The nutrients all work together to promote proper calcium absorption — without these helpful nutrients, your calcium supplementation won’t be as effective.
7. Fish Oil
Finally, make sure you’re also taking a high-quality fish oil supplement. Fish oil supplements are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids help promote muscle growth and repair. They also reduce inflammation and promote a healthy immune system.
Look for a fish oil supplement that needs to be refrigerated. This will prevent the oil from going rancid and ensure it is safe and effective.
In order to keep your body functioning properly, consider adding these supplements to your routine. Supplements aren’t an excuse to eat an unhealthy diet, of course. But, they can help fill in any gaps in your nutrition and ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need.