If you are an athlete, it is important to know that your body can suffer a loss of essential vitamins during strenuous workouts. The body needs vitamins and minerals to replenish the nutrients that are lost.
When you exercise, your body uses its nutrients to fuel the energy necessary to perform the exercise. Depending on the intensity of your workout and the amount of nutrients in your body, you can actually put yourself at risk for nutrient deficiency. This is especially true for athletes during training.
The more physical demands you place on your body the more nutrients it requires. Consuming more foods that contain essential vitamins and minerals to compensate for the stress on the body may seem to make sense. However, the demands of a strenuous training routine make it nearly impossible to consume a sufficient amount. Vitamin supplementation can help create the stores of nutrients that you need to achieve your training goals successfully.
“Whatever your training focus is, you should use a “whole foods” approach to fuel your performance, recovery from workouts and for your overall health. In certain instances, sports supplements can assist achieving optimal fueling when whole foods are not available or sufficient”, says Kaylee Jacks, a registered dietitian with Texas Health Sports Medicine in Dallas.
Best supplements to support athletic performance and recovery
Proper nutrition is essential to your athletic performance. Here are the best vitamins, minerals and supplements to support busy lives, sport performance and recovery.
Some of the vitamins that your body uses during an intense workout are antioxidants. It is important that you maintain adequate amounts of these in your system because they keep infections at bay. Vitamins C and E are two of the most beneficial antioxidants for athletes in training. These vitamins not only prevent infection, but they help to enhance your stamina so that you can endure the intense workout. In addition, vitamins C and E can help rebuild muscle tissue that suffers minor damage during a hard workout.
As a high-performance athlete, proper nutrition is key to performance and recovery. Protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle. Consuming sufficient protein can help support your immune system and muscle growth. Protein also helps prevent muscle breakdown.
Getting enough protein after training can help with repairing and building muscle tissue. Athletes tend to have higher protein needs than the average person; supplementation like protein powder or shakes can help fill the gaps if they are unable to meet all of their needs through food.
Consume at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day if you are active throughout the day. Athletes should aim for about 1.4 grams/pound if they are involved in intense exercising twice a day or more. If you have trouble consuming sufficient protein from food, consider supplementing with a post-workout shake containing water and plant-based ingredients that contain BCAAs and carbs can help fill those gaps to support lean muscle gain.
Rebuilding your body after physical fitness is important to prevent overuse injuries and long-term damage to muscles. Antioxidants can help support the recovery process by combatting these free radicals, getting you back in the gym sooner. Fruits and veggies are great choices for antioxidants, but they might be too filling for you? Consider adding a superfood blend to your next smoothie to get the benefits without all of the bulk.
Blending antioxidant-rich superfoods into our post-workout smoothie helps combat free radicals that can lead to muscle soreness, fatigue and decreases in performance.
Vitamin D and Calcium
Vitamin D supports the immune system, protects the heart and helps fight infection. It also is necessary for absorption of calcium and phosphorus, which help keep bones strong and healthy, decrease the injury risk, fight off diseases like osteoporosis and aid in muscle recovery.
Vitamin D supplements are especially helpful for athletes who train indoors and have little exposure to the sun. Athletes should get at least 20 minutes of sun exposure each day to help their bodies produce this vitamin D naturally. If sun exposure isn’t possible, supplement with up to 2000 IU (international units, a form of measurement for fat-soluble vitamins) of vitamin D a day.
Besides taking D supplements, consider eating more fatty fish (like salmon) and fortified dairy products, as well as cereals that are fortified with this important nutrient.
Branched-chain amino acids, also known as BCAAs, can help athletes obtain all the essential amino acids they need if they are on a special diet or aren’t obtaining enough from whole foods. BCAAs can be used as energy, which may help athletes spare muscle tissue and increase muscular endurance.
Caffeine in moderate amount may be useful for endurance athletes like runners, cyclists, and triathletes to help them perform at peak levels. There are sport regulations that can disqualify a competitive athlete for having too much caffeine in his or her system. College athletes who are considering taking a caffeine supplement should consult with their trainers. Athletic trainers typically do not recommend consuming more than 400mg per day.
Naturally found in every cell of the human body, Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that’s commonly recommended for improving heart health.
CoQ10 is one of the most important nutrients for athletes. It is commonly used as a sports supplement and energy booster because of its ability to improve cardiovascular health, endurance performance, immune function and recovery from intense training.
Co-Q10 is critical to energy production, and this supplement increases your endurance and prolongs your workouts while allowing you to train harder. Endurance athletes potentially need 200-300 milligrams per day to achieve an enhancement in athletic performance.
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Creatine is a naturally occurring substance in the body that helps to supply energy to muscles. Creatine is one of the most well-researched supplements on the market, and athletes are using it to help increase their strength and speed during training. It may also help them recover more quickly between workouts.
Creatine can be helpful for athletes who need to maximize their performance in anaerobic activities. In addition to increasing lean muscle mass and body weight, creatine may help enhance the amount of power and strength that athletes can produce during short bursts of exercise. Some people use creatine to help speed up their recovery time during high-intensity interval training.
Fish oil supplements are a great addition to athletes’ diets. They are commonly used by athletes and those who exercise regularly. If you’re not a fan of fish or find it difficult to consume 2 to 3 servings of fatty fish per week, a fish oil supplement may be a great choice for you.
Fish oil naturally provides the essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA for optimal health, which are essential for supporting the body’s natural anti-inflammatory process, joint health, cardiovascular function, and overall wellness for everyday life – whether or not you’re a professional athlete.
Electrolytes are responsible for maintaining fluid balance in the body, which is lost when we sweat during exercise. Proper hydration, along with electrolyte supplements ensures that your body will retain fluids and minerals, like sodium and potassium. Electrolytes help replenish vital minerals lost through sweat, and can help prevent dehydration and muscle cramping.
Make sure you stay on top of your fluid and electrolyte goals throughout the day, starting with a morning coffee and breakfast. Next, replenish with 100% electrolyte-infused hydrating beverage throughout your busy day. With proper hydration and electrolyte supplements throughout the day, you can keep up with your energy demands.
When it comes to the gut, a healthy balance of good bacteria is key. Probiotics are critical for keeping your gut healthy and running smoothly. These microbes help support digestion and, when taken daily, can be effective in improving immune health.
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