10 Best Supplements For Runners

Best supplements for runners

Finding the best supplements for runners is challenging.

For a lot of newbies, entering a supplement shop without proper research can lead to wasting a lot of money – and not really getting what you came for.

With so many options and recommendations out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. All you want to know is: what are the best supplements for runners?

As a running coach and marathoner, I have decades of experience in what kind of supplements runners should take. I’ve done the research and tried all the options so you don’t have to.

Luckily, I’m here to tell you that you’ll need a few, but not all of them. This guide will teach you which supplements help with running.

By the end of this guide, you’ll be an expert on running supplements, from training to prepare for long races, to endurance to keep you in them, and recovery to help you get ready for the next one.

The Absolute Best Supplements for Runners

1. BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids)

  • Why take this supplement: Helps maintain muscle mass
  • When to take this supplement: Before or after a run
  • Recommended Product: MusclePharm BCAA

A friend of mine introduced me to this supplement for runners and athletes years ago and I haven’t stopped taking it daily ever since.

But is a BCAA supplement necessary?

When we run a lot we could end up in a calorie deficit. The leaner we become, the more muscle mass we lose. 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 does BCAA help 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. Branched amino acids 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 have normally been utilized for protein synthesis to build more muscles as a source of energy. If you want to keep your hard-gained muscles then BCAA’s are great.
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 after or before your run.

This has two great effects I could recognize within my training: the amino acids will provide you with extra energy to your muscle cells and help reduce fatigue. So this is also a great supplement for runners’ endurance. Also, the amino acids will stimulate your muscle growth and your recovery after your run which is why BCAA’s are also one of the best post-workout supplements for runners.

Please read my complete guide about BCAAs for runners and their benefits.

I’m using MusclePharm BCAA’s (Blue Raspberry) – They sell it as a powder or capsules. This BCAA product: Supports Lean Mass Growth, Reduces Muscle Breakdown, Increases Protein Synthesis, Supplements for runners endurance, Supplements for runners recovery.

2. Glutamine

  • Why take this supplement: Serves as fuel for your immune cells
  • When to take this supplement: After a run
  • Recommended Product: MusclePharm’s Glutamine

What are the benefits of taking glutamine?

The benefit from glutamine for runners is easy to explain: Glutamine is found in your blood plasma and muscles and it serves as fuel for your immune cells. Glutamine 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 maintaining 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 glass of water. This product:

  • Aids in muscle growth, recovery time and digestion
  • Promotes a healthy digestive system
  • Enhances rehydration and endurance
  • Supplements for runners recovery

3. Probiotics

  • Why take this supplement: Improves gut health and performance issues associated with bloating
  • When to take this supplement: At night before bed
  • Recommended Product: Ultimate Probiotic from Silver Fern

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. Probiotic supplements have helped me to improve my gut health significantly.

What is the most effective probiotic?

Adding a daily probiotic supplement like Ultimate Probiotic from Silver Fern (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’ve been using probiotics since I was struggling with bloating and stomach issues and my doctor recommended Silver Fern.

4. L-Carnitine

  • Why take this supplement: Improves athletic performance and endurance
  • When to take this supplement: In the morning
  • Recommended Product: Doctor’s Best L-Carnitine

L-carnitine is popular for its ability to burn fat. But is L-Carnitine good for runners?

Most people use L-Carnitine to lose weight. Also if you’re interested in a clean bulk during bodybuilding L-Carnitine will help. But how does carnitine increase endurance?

L-Carnitine 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-Carnitine 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 are made available in your body.

With L-Carnitine, I’m having 1500 mg every morning on an empty stomach. The one that works best for me is this product from Amazon.

What’s the difference between L-Carnitine and Acetyl L-Carnitine?

Another, lesser-discussed role of L-carnitine is its support of brain health. It all comes back to burning fat for energy.

A special type of carnitine, Acetyl L-Carnitine, raises levels of carnitine in the brain where it burns fat for brain cell energy. This is really important because energy is what cells need to repair any damage that they’ve incurred and stayed alive. LivOn Labs makes a potent, high-quality Acetyl L-Carnitine supplement.

In case you’re looking for a supplement with really great quality check out LivOnLabs L-Carnitine. When to take this supplement for runners: First thing in the morning

5. Calcium

Should runners take calcium supplements?

Another great supplement for runners is calcium especially when you’re looking for supplements for runner’s joints. 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 by 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 seriously enough.

So how much calcium does a runner need?

Since I’m taking 1300 mg of calcium/day I never had issues with stress fractures again. You can find calcium in every pharmacy or on Amazon.

Please read my complete guide about the best calcium supplement and its benefits.

6. Fish Oil

  • Why take this supplement: Increases muscle growth and improves strength and physical performance
  • When to take this supplement: At night before bed
  • Recommended Product: Fish Oil by Nature’s Bounty

What are the benefits of fish oil supplements? Does fish oil really help with running and are fish oil supplements really good for you?

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 are why they must be obtained through your diet or through supplements.

Is fish oil good for runners?

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 one of the main supplements for runners especially when it comes to recovery and endurance.

I was suffering from negative immune effects of intensive training for a long time and fish oil has helped me a lot. Nature’s Bounty has great fish oil capsules that don’t give you that weird fishy taste in your mouth after taking them. I’m taking up to 3 capsules daily.

7. Vitamin C and E

  • Why take this supplement: Vitamin C to fight the oxidative damage that is caused by exercising and Vitamin E to fight free radical damage caused by exercising
  • When to take this supplement: At night before bed
  • Recommended Product: Lypo–Spheric Vitamin C

These two vitamins C and E are great antioxidants that offer amazing support, especially for long-distance runners. Generally speaking, there are a couple of vitamins for runners that should be a part of your supplementation.

Vitamin C always gives a great immune system boost and helps to fight the oxidative damage that is caused by exercising and environmental toxins. Vitamin 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 this Vitamin C and find it very well working for my body. It is by far the best Vitamin C supplement on the market right now.

8. Magnesium

To run a marathon you’ll need endurance. Does magnesium help runners? 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 why do runners need magnesium and what does magnesium do to you?

Magnesium assists with energy and muscle contraction, it promotes strong bones and muscles and is a big supporter of cardiovascular health and nerve function.

Here is a link to a Magnesium Supplement that I had great experiences with.

Magnesium also helps our bodies relax, which is why you’re seeing it marketed as a sleep supplement. Double Wood makes a Magnesium L-Threonate supplement. But what is magnesium L-Threonate good for? It’s a supplement for runners which is the only compound that raises magnesium levels in the brain. Taking one of these before bedtime is critical to ensure that I’m getting solid recovery sleep.

9. Vitamin D3

  • Why take this supplement: Solves issues like eye twitch.
  • When to take this supplement: At night before bed
  • Recommended Product: Now Foods D3 Supplement

Vitamin D3 is a great supplement for runners when you’re having issues with eye twitch for example. It happens a lot during stressful times, poor hydration, or lack of sleep. How much vitamin d3 should I take daily? I take 25 mcg of vitamin D3 daily and have not experienced a twitch ever since.

From a runner’s perspective when you also supplement calcium on top of vitamin D, it may help you to prevent bone loss. This is beneficial for runners that experience osteoporosis.

This is the Vitamin D3 that I have been using.

10. Caffeine

  • Why take this supplement: Excellent supplement pre-workout or run.
  • When to take this supplement: In the morning or before a workout
  • Recommended Product: Your favourite coffee!

In order to provide enough energy for running my go-to is definitely caffeine. Especially when I was looking for a supplement for marathon running, 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.

So I went back to basics and started drinking coffee as the best pre-workout supplement for running to help me to run longer. 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.

Running Supplements FAQ

Is protein powder good for runners?

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.

Which protein powder is best for runners?

For those of you who need a recommendation: I used to take Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein as you can find here. Protein powders does make sense to add on to your diet though.

Is it good to drink protein shakes after running?

It’s definitely one of the best supplements for runners and easy to mix into your morning shake for example. Nutritionists are convinced though that no shake will ever replace a real meal.

What are the best recovery supplements for runners?

Especially during marathon training, I need very fast recovery which is why I want to share my top 3 recovery supplements for runners. They may even be listed above already, but for those of you who need specific support for recovery supplements, here you go.

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

Should runners drink BCAA? Yes! BCAAs serve as an effective recovery agent, helping to reduce post-exercise muscle soreness and the recovery time needed between workouts. More about BCAAs for runners.

Fish Oil 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 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. This is my favorite L-Carnitine supplement.

Make sure to also check out my article about energy supplements for runners to find out how to maximize your energy with the correct supplementation.

What supplements should marathon runners take?

What are the best supplements to take for long-distance running?

Leading up to marathons I’ll make sure to take my marathon supplements strictly every night. My go-to marathon supplements are a slightly higher dose of calcium and magnesium. Beet juice supplements and zinc as well as fish oils, protein for runners, and different vitamins like C, D & E.

Check out this link for the best marathon supplements.

What vitamins should female athletes take?

As a female runner, there are certain supplements for women that you should take into considerations.
We tend to forget that running takes a toll on our bodies. Whatever we put inside our bodies can either make or break us. So making sure taking the right supplements for women is just as important as your training or your diet.

But what kind of supplements are important for female athletes?

Do runners need supplements?

Running is very taxing on your body. Whether you’re a sprinter or a long-distance runner, it’s important to understand that to perform at your peak potential, you need to supply your body with the proper nutrients.

Sometimes, even with a great diet, the food we eat is not enough to provide the fuel we need. Supplements or vitamins for runners help to give you that extra endurance boost you need to maximize your performance and recover more rapidly.

There are a number of pre-run supplements that runners look to in order to maintain high energy levels during a race. Supplements for endurance athletes provide lasting energy and also help to prevent exhaustion, cramping, muscle tension, and dehydration. The best recovery supplements for runners help to get them back on their feet, and ready to run again after a race, or a long day of training.

Do supplements for runners actually work?

Your results ultimately come down to your training, effort, and diet. With that being said, no supplement is going to make you be able to run a full marathon or trim 2 seconds off of your 1/4 mile time overnight.

Supplements for runners support your recovery, provide you with more energy when needed, and will give your body some extra nutrients to help you recover quicker and get more out of your training. There are no magic pills out there that will magically make you Usain Bolt, only you are the master of your training and performance.

You Should Know: I have tried every running supplement that’s recommended in this article, along with countless others. These suggestions are what I have found work best, and help to provide runners of all kinds with the best nutrients and energy to produce the results they’re looking for.