If you’re a runner you’ll most likely know the importance of looking after your body. Proper nutrition and recovery is vital to increasing performance and preventing injuries. When it comes to feeding your body the nutrients it requires you should aim to eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables, protein, and whole grains. If you’re still feeling like you could use an extra edge you may consider adding some supplements to your diet.
But what supplements should you use? And how will they help enhance your running performance and recovery? We’ve put together a list of the top 7 supplements for runners.
Why Should Runners Take Supplements?
Runners put a lot of strain and stress on their body, especially long distance runners. In order to be able to keep running and stay healthy it’s important to support your body with the nutrients it needs to recover. If you’re not recovering properly your next run may suffer or you may become injured. Supplements can help runners recover faster so they have less post workout muscle pain or stiffness and can run more often, for longer.
10 Supplements For Runners
Runners should consider taking a multivitamin as it supports overall health and wellbeing. A multivitamin fills any nutrient gaps you may have in your diet. For runners, a multivitamin will ensure they are getting enough B vitamins for energy and calcium to support bone health.
Most multivitamins are one capsule taken once per day but some of the newer more potent multivitamins can be up to 5 capsules per day so always read the directions on the bottle.
Fish Oil/Omega 3
Fish oil is widely known for its ability to help relieve inflammation. The muscle pain and stiffness that runners experience post-run is often accompanied by inflammation. Unless you eat a lot of fish you are probably not getting enough omega 3 fatty acids in your diet. Your body cannot make Omega 3’s naturally so a fish oil supplement can help.
Fish oil should be taken daily. The timing is not important, although it is best to take it with meals. As for dosage it’s best to follow the label instructions.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
Conjugated linoleic acid, also known as CLA, is a fatty acid found naturally in beef and dairy. CLA makes your fat stores more readily available to be used as fuel which supports fat loss. As a runner your goal may not be fat loss, but staying lean will help prevent you from getting injured and may even allow you to run faster.
Most CLA supplements come in capsule form so can easily be added to your daily supplements routine. Again the timing of your dose is not very important.
Whey protein is the most popular sports supplement among gym goers and body builders. But it can also be beneficial for runners. Whey protein is a protein derived from dairy products. It has many benefits such as supporting weight loss, muscle gain, and workout recovery. The primary reason runners should supplement with whey protein is to enhance their recovery.
By supplementing with a protein powder it makes it super easy to get enough protein in your diet. Whey protein is the most popular choice of protein for athletes because it has a complete amino acid profile. Secondly, whey protein is digested and absorbed quickly. It is recommended to use whey protein after a run or workout so your muscles quickly receive the nutrients they need to start recovering.
Unlike the other supplements listed so far, the timing of whey protein is important. The best time to consume whey protein immediately after your run. This will help kick start your muscle recovery.
Whey protein supplements come in a powdered form and can be mixed with water or milk. A typical serving of whey protein contains 20-30g.
L-carnitine is an amino acid that is naturally produced in the body, and is also found in some foods. It is a key amino acid for athletes, and runners can greatly benefit from adding an L-carnitine supplement to their routine.
L-carnitine helps transport fat into the mitochondria of cells to be used as fuel. For runners this can help their body use fats as a source of energy during running rather than relying on carbohydrates for fuel. This also supports endurance as the body can burn both fats and carbohydrates for fuel during longer distance runs. L-Carnitine has also been shown to decrease muscle soreness and increase recovery.
The best time to take L-Carnitine is post workout but you can also take it with a high-carb, high-protein meal throughout the day. L-Carnitine supplements are available in capsule or liquid form.
Caffeine is a popular substance that many use to wake themselves up in the morning whether it’s in the form of coffee, tea, or caffeine supplements. Runners can benefit from the energy boosting benefits of caffeine.
The main benefits of caffeine are an immediate and noticeable boost in energy which can increase motivation and performance during a run.
There are two different ways you can supplement with caffeine. You can do this by drinking a cup of coffee or tea before your run, or by supplementing with caffeine pills.
The best time to supplement with caffeine is 20-40minutes before a run. This gives the caffeine enough time to take effect in your system.
If you’re thinking about supplementing with caffeine before a run it may pay to try this before a shorter run initially. Some people do find that caffeine can cause stomach irritation while running so it pays to check your tolerance before heading off on a long run or competing in a race!
Runners need to be careful when supplementing with caffeine that they adjust their caffeine intake appropriately. Too much caffeine per day can cause side effects such as jitters, anxiety, headaches and trouble sleeping. It is recommended not to take caffeine 6-8 hours before bed to limit sleep interference.
It’s often thought that creatine is only beneficial for weightlifters but it’s also beneficial for runners!
Creatine is an organic compound that is produced in the liver, and also found in many food products, including meats. It’s made up of three amino acids; L-arginine, L-methionine and glycine. The body uses creatine to help deliver energy to the muscles and brain. Creatine is one of the most popular and most scientifically studied supplements available.
The primary benefit of Creatine is it helps improve athletic performance by regenerating levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the main source of energy used by your muscles. Creatine also enhances performance and recovery through increasing muscle cell hydration. This can leave you feeling a bit bloated or noticing some added water weight, but this will disappear when you stop taking it.
Generally, creatine comes in an unflavoured powder that can be mixed into water, protein shakes etc. It is also included in some popular pre-workout supplements, so you may already be supplementing with creatine if you take a pre-workout.
The recommended dose is 5g Creatine per day. This should be taken every day including non-training days. The benefits of Creatine are not immediate but if you take it every day you should start seeing results after 4-6 weeks.