Supplements for runners is a very specific topic, for a lot of newbies entering a nutrition store without proper research can lead to wasting a lot of money. You could spend huge amounts of money on supplements and vitamins for runners but at the end of the day you really don’t need them all. This article will help you to understand the correct supplementation for runners and will also give you recommendations on concrete supplements for runners from my personal experience.
What supplements are athletes taking?
Before I start narrowing down the essential supplements for runners let me tell you that these supplements help, but they do not do the work for you. It all goes down with your training effort and diet. With that being said no supplement for runners will make you run the 6 miles overnight. They will support your recovery, give you energy here and there when needed and give your body some extra nutrients. There are no magic pills out there only you are the master of your training game.
Find out in this article what supplements to take to run faster and also for us ladies what supplements should female runners take?
Side note: every supplement for runners I recommend in this article is being used by myself. I’m not recommending anything for commission purposes. These products are just examples, you may find different options online or at your local pharmacy. If you have any questions feel free to send me an email.
Key Supplements For Runners
#1 Pre workout: Caffeine
I’ve tried so many pre workouts and nothing really helped me. It made me feel dizzy, I couldn’t sleep at night or the pre workout gave me stomach discomfort. Energy supplements for runners aren’t my favorite. So I went back to basic and started drinking coffee as the best pre workout supplement for running. I don’t add milk or sugar. Before my workouts at night after work I have a cup of black coffee. In the morning a simple cup of green tea, or also coffee gives me energy for my run.
#2 BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids)
A friend of mine introduced me to this supplement for runners and athletes and I haven’t stopped taking it daily ever since. When we run a lot we could end up in a calorie deficit. The leaner we become it can take a chunk of our muscle mass. This is exactly what happened to me before. I lost a lot of muscles because I was running a lot and always ended up with a calorie deficit. How BCAA helps with that?
It’s important to know that you are in a catabolic state, when you are cutting calories, no matter if it’s because you are on a diet, or you are training for a marathon. Even regular running training can make you end up in a calorie deficit. BCAA’s help you to maintain as much muscle as possible while doing so. Your body will be breaking down fat, some muscles – basically tissue – rather than making it (which is called anabolic state). You will end up losing muscles because your body is using the amino acids which normally been utilized for protein synthesis to build more muscles as a source of energy. If you want to keep your hard gained muscles go for BCAA’s. From my own experience I can tell you that this helps perfectly. I’m running and lifting and my BCAA’s maintain those muscles while I’m running.
When it comes to running it does make sense to take BCAA’s during or before your run. This has two great effects I could recognized within my training: the amino acids will provide you with extra energy to your muscle cells and is reducing fatigue. Also the amino acids will stimulate your muscle grow and your recovery after your run. I’m using MusclePharm BCAA’s (Blue Raspberry) – They sell it as a powder or capsules. This product:
- Supports Lean Mass Growth
- Reduces Muscle Breakdown
- Increases Protein Synthesis
Benefit from this supplement for runners: Glutamin is found in your blood plasma and muscles and it serves as fuel for your immun cells. Glutamin is a nonessential amino acid. Due to physical stress and intense exercising glutamine depletes from your plasma and it has to be replaced because if our glutamine level gets too low we risk illness. I take my glutamine in the morning right after my workout which is the best time to take it after exhaustive exercise. Glutamine is a great supplement for jogging.
To prevent our muscles from being catabolized an amount of 20mg is recommended. It will also help with maintain cell volume and hydration and gives a huge plus for recovery. Although this is a huge benefit rest and proper recovery can’t be replaced with glutamine. I’m using MusclePharm’s Glutamine product and drink it mixed into a glas of water. This product:
- Aids in muscle growth, recovery time and digestion
- Promotes a healthy digestive system
- Enhances rehydration and endurance
Because of how everything in our bodies is interconnected, gut health can positively or negatively affect our immune system, nervous system, and hormones. Poor levels of gut flora (bacteria) can also increase inflammation in our bodies.
Adding a daily probiotic supplement like Ultimate Probiotic from Silver Fern™ Brand (also known as “good bacteria,” or live bacteria and yeasts that help with digestion, absorption of nutrients and fighting off bad bacteria) to your daily regimen could be the secret to staying healthy. I’m using probiotics since I was struggling with bloating and stomach issues and my doc recommended me Silver Fern™ Brand. As an athlete I benefit a lot from taking probiotics, but first let me tell you why Silver Fern™ Brand is the right choice when you’re looking for a probiotic supplement.
L-carnitine is popular for its ability to burn fat. So of course most people use it to lose weight. Also if you’re interested in a clean bulk during bodybuilding L-Carnitin will help. L-Carnitin helps to build muscles but breaks down body fats for ATP at the same time. It will also transport long chain fatty acids into the mitochondria of cells for energy.
As a jogging supplement L-Carnitin improves athletic performance. It basically delivers additional energy by turning your own body fats into ATP. This way, L-Carnitine helps your body to produce maximal oxygen consumption by creating more red blood cells that is made available in your body. With L-Carnitin I’m having 1500 mg every morning on empty stomach. The one that works best for me is this product from bodybuilding.com.
Another key supplement for runners is calcium. Bone health is an important topic for runners which is why you want to make sure to take calcium. We deal with stress fractures, knee issues and so many more injuries caused of our bones so that calcium consumption is a must for runners. As a storage system for calcium the human skeleton needs enough calcium to prevent pulling from bone calcium stores to fulfill its metabolic purpose.
If this happens it can leave your body in a negative state of calcium balance which can lead to bone loss. I had so many stress fractures already and I’m convinced that they happened because I didn’t take my calcium supplementation serious enough. Since I’m taking 1300 mg of calcium/day I never had issues with stress fractures again. You can find calcium in every pharmacy.
#7 Fish Oil
Another very useful supplement for endurance athletes is fish oil. The reason why is that absorbing the omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil will help a runner ward off the damaging effects of inflammation. Humans are not able to produce Omega–3 fatty acids which is why they must be obtain through your diet or through supplements.
For runners the performance-enhancing effects, such as increasing muscle growth, improving strength and physical performance are reasons enough to take advantage of the fish oil. It also reduces exercise-induced muscle damage and delayed-onset muscle soreness which makes it to one of the main supplements for runners.
I was suffering from negative immune effects of intensive training for a long time and fish oil has helped me a lot. Optimum Nutrition has great fish oil capsules that don’t give you that weird fish taste in your mouth after taking them. I’m taking up to 3 capsules daily.
#8 Vitamins C and E
These two vitamins C and E are great antioxidants that offer amazing support especially for long distance runners. Vitamin C always gives a great immune system boost and helps fighting the oxidative damage that is caused by exercising and environmental toxins. Vitamine E on the other hand supports your body to fight free radical damage caused by exercising for a long time and supports your heart and the general cardiovascular system.
The next top supplement for runners is a two-for-one. Vitamins C and E are both great antioxidants that offer support for long distance runners. We all know that vitamin C gives the immune system a boost, but it also fights oxidative damage caused by exercise and environmental toxins. Like vitamin C, vitamin E fights free radical damage caused by exercising for a long time. It also supports the heart and cardiovascular system. I also use multivitamins, but which ones are the best multivitamins for runners? I’ve been using Nature Made Multi Complex and find it very well working for my body.
To run a marathon you’ll need endurance. A very important supplement for runners is magnesium, because it is one of the most important minerals in our diet and it plays a huge role when it comes to endurance. But what does magnesium to you? It assists with energy and muscle contraction, it promotes strong bones and muscles and is a big supporter of cardiovascular health and nervous function.
Supplements for runners: Whey Protein?
For those of you who are missing Whey Protein in this article: I stopped taking it just recently because it gave me bloating after years of taking it. But for those of you who need a recommendation: I used to take Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein as you can find here. Whey Protein should also be on your diet every once in a while. It’s definitively a key supplement for runners. Nutritionists are convinced though that no shake ever will replace a real meal.
3 Best Supplements for Recovery
Especially during marathon training I needed very fast recovery which is why I want to share my top 3 supplements for runners for recovery. They may even listed above already, but as an understatement for those of you who need specific support for recovery, here you go:
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
BCAAs serve as an effective recovery agent, helping to reduce post-exercise muscle soreness and the recovery time needed between workouts
EPA and DHA, two essential fatty acids found in fish oil, have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Fish Oil is a must-have supplement in your kitchen for faster recovery as an athlete
While during exercising L-Carnitine decreases the accumulation of ammonia and increases blood flow, after your workout L-Carnitine can help optimize the post-workout tissue repair process. It’s basically reducing your soreness which can be super helpful when your training schedule is busy.
Read also: Grocery List Essentials For Runners