Best Supplements for Endurance Athletes- FAQs and Reviews
Contrary to popular beliefs, bodybuilders aren’t the only athletes who might benefit from supplements.
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Endurance athletes can also use supplements to help with their workouts. If you are an endurance athlete, think about the physical challenges you encounter. Do you get fatigued? Have you experienced excessive muscle soreness?
The best supplements for endurance athletes might help with these physical challenges. Certain supplements are designed to provide energy before a workout. Others help you recover from a long, strenuous endurance activity.
But first, let’s take a look at the most common physical challenges you’re facing as an endurance athlete and why they actually happen.
Most common physical challenges
Endurance athletes face a variety of physical challenges. Excessive exercise and improper resting can lead to injuries. People who practice endurance sports might experience plantar fasciitis, tendon pain, or IB friction syndrome. Besides injuries, endurance athletes can also experience muscle pain, cramping, and fatigue (1).
Some endurance athletes might experience nutrient deficiencies. Iron is a common and serious nutrient deficieny for endurance athletes.
What happens to our body during endurance training?
During endurance training, our bodies enter into the aerobic exercise state. During aerobic exercise, our bodies use oxygen to generate energy. This is different than anaerobic exercise, where your body uses stored energy instead of oxygen. Anaerobic is short-lasting and reserved for high-intensity training. Endurance sports are generally aerobic exercises. Since your muscles need more oxygen during aerobic exercise, more capillaries are created to deliver the oxygen faster.
Oxygen is used to break down glycogen into glucose to generate ATP for your body to use as energy. Once you deplete your glycogen stores, your body starts breaking down fat for energy. This is a slower process so less energy is produced. When endurance athletes say they “hit a wall”, their body might have started burning fat for energy (2).
What happens in our body after endurance training?
Endurance training results in short and long-term effects. As soon as your finish endurance training, your body tries to return to its normal resting state. Your heart rate will slow down. This process happens faster in healthier individuals.
A few days after endurance training, you might experience delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This inflammatory response might lead to muscle soreness and swelling (3).
You might also experience longer-term effects of endurance training, like weight loss and a reduction in blood pressure.
What do these challenges depend on?
Depending on the type of endurance sport you participate in, you might encounter different physical challenges. The frequency and intensity of training might also contribute to the challenges you face.
Runners might experience inflammation, knee pain, muscle cramping and nutrient deficiencies (specifically iron).
Swimmers are also likely to experience nutrient deficiencies. But they also might face musculoskeletal overuse and shoulder injuries.
Each endurance sport comes with its own set of physical challenges. But each athlete might have a different experience with these challenges. The duration of your workout, your level of training, and the amount of rest you take also contribute to the physical challenges you might encounter.
- Stimulate protein synthesis and repair tissue
- Restore energy substrates
- Reduce muscle soreness
- Counter inflammation
- Replenish building block nutrients
- Increase blood flow to muscles
- Provide long-lasting energy
Pre-workout recommended supplements
Pre-workout supplements can help an athlete prepare for an endurance workout. Supplements might increase blood flow to the muscles. This will help your muscles receive more oxygen. Also, pre-workout supplements can help your body build up energy stores.
Before and during a training session, the body needs creatine, citrulline, beta-alanine, and occasionally some caffeine (7).
If you are iron deficient, you might need an iron supplement. Iron deficiencies are common in endurance athletes. Frequent exercise can deplete iron stores, but an iron helps your body receive oxygen. So a deficiency can lead to muscle cramping and soreness (8).
Post-workout recommended supplements
Post-workout supplements can help an athlete recover from an endurance workout. Supplements might help rebuild muscle tissues that were strained or damaged during the workout.
After a workout, the body needs essential amino acids and long-chain carbohydrates to recover. Studies suggest that it might be effective to consume protein and carbohydrates together.
Which are the most common core ingredients in endurance supplements?
Endurance supplements are not one-size-fits-all. So the best supplements for endurance are the ones that fit your personal needs. And your ideal supplement might vary depending on the type, frequency, and intensity of the endurance sport you participate in.
But, there are some common ingredients seen in endurance supplements (9).
- Caffeine- As a natural stimulant, caffeine helps endurance athletes unlock extra energy to improve their performance. Studies proved that caffeine also boosts your mood and increases mental alertness for up to 3 hours, which is also important for athletes. (10)
- Creatine- Our body produces about 1 gram of creatine per day which is stored and used by muscles. However, using this supplement in higher quantities was found to improve sports performance and endurance too. (11)
- Beta-Alanine- Beta-Alanine supplements can help slow fatigue during high-intensity workouts. Endurance athletes often train (or complete) at a high-intensity, so this supplement might help during this process.
- Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)- BCAAs might help delay lactate production and they’re crucial to improving immunity, which in turn helps athletes recover faster after each workout. (12)
- Glutamine- Intense training can cause a rapid depletion of your body’s glutamine stores. Once your body runs out of glutamine, it beings breaking down its own muscles for energy. Glutamine supplements might prevent this and help with your post-workout recovery.
- Protein- Protein is essential for endurance athletes because it helps repair and maintain your muscles. Your body also uses protein for energy, so you need to have a ready supply.
- Beta Alanine – This modified amino acid is especially useful for high-intensity cardiovascular activity like rowing or sprinting. It increases carnosine production, thus decreasing fatigue and boosts muscle strength in athletes. (13)
- Iron- Iron is essential to turn nutrients into energy, so athletes in particular need an extra supply of this mineral. Because endurance athletes are prone to iron deficiencies, a supplement is the ideal solution – especially for women. (14)
How to choose the right supplement
Before choosing an endurance supplement, it is important to understand that supplements are loosely regulated by the FDA. So, you need to confirm that the supplement you plan to consume is safe. Make sure that the supplement is free from toxins and heavy metals. Certain harmful chemicals, like cupric sulfate and boric acid, are occasionally added to supplements. Study the nutrition label before consuming any supplement. (15)
Once you determine that a supplement is safe to consume, it is important to choose the right supplement for your exercise needs.
The type of endurance sport you participate in doesn’t strongly affect the supplement you need. Most runners, cyclists, and swimmers can benefit from the same endurance supplement. Instead, the intensity of your training most directly influences the supplement you need.
Athletes might need different supplements on race days and training days. Also, there are supplements that work before, during, and after a workout.
Before a workout, endurance athletes might consume caffeine, citrulline, beta-alanine. These help the body store energy for the upcoming endurance event.
After a workout, endurance athletes might need protein and creatine to recover from the intense activity faster and easier.
Overall, endurance athletes face similar physical challenges. They might develop nutrient deficiencies or physical injuries, due to muscular overuse. They also face fatigue and muscle soreness.
To combat these issues, endurance athletes can consume supplements. It is important to choose the right supplement for your needs. Certain supplements work before workouts. Other supplements help you recover after a workout. Let’s now look at the best supplements for endurance athletes.
What is the best Supplement for endurance athletes?
Preparing for an endurance training session is just as important as helping your body recover properly afterwards. That’s exactly why we did our research for what we think are the best supplements that can help you improve your performance and even get to enjoy the recovery process!
We considered endurance athletes’ needs, ingredients, and quality before making our selections, so let’s have a look.
Best pre-workout supplements
Not only is this supplement extremely low in calories, but it also contains a powerful mix of ingredients that give you just the energy boost you need. Both caffeine and taurine improve physical and mental alertness for hours, while beta alanine increases cardiovascular endurance and not only. All of these ingredients are availbale in 7 tasty flavors that get you ready for another productive training session!
- Well-balanced mix of ingredients with proven benefits
- Hawthorn extract that improves heart and respiratory functions
- Multiple flavors that allow diversity while being healthy too
- Some customers reported trouble falling asleep when taking the supplement at late hours
As its name suggests, this supplement is an explosion of high-quality ingredients that get your body ready for training. Each serving is packed with calcium and magnesium that improve immunity and bone structure. Meanwhile, the vitamin B complex is an essential range of micronutrients for a better metabolism and effective use of energy.
- Combines effective pre-workout ingredients with micronutrients
- Creatine blend enhances the effect of the amino acids
- Available in a wide range of tasty flavors
- Some customers claim they didn’t notice any major difference at first
Perhaps the most important benefit of this product is how friendly it is to its customers. First of all, it contains a powerful blend of ingredients. The B vitamin complex, caffeine and beta alanine are all completed by other micronutrients like magnesium to support a healthy diet and boost energy levels. The best part? All of these ingredients are delivered in a gluten-free formula that matches most athletes’ eating habits.
- Vegetarian-friendly formula that’s mixed quickly
- Free from genetically modified ingredients (GMO)
- Improves immunity, metabolism and adds extra endurance
- Some customers claim the flavors don’t really match their taste preferences
Best post workout supplements
Aside from the well-known effective mix of creatine and micronutrients, this supplement also contains a healthy dose of protein. Because it’s sourced from whey, this protein type contains all the essential amino-acids needed for your recovery. The product is available in seven different styles tailord to customers’ preferences
- Low in calories, yet high in protein and micronutrients
- Manufactured in the USA using high-quality ingredients
- Powerful creatine blend for maximum benefits
- Contains milk, so it’s not appropriate for lactose-intolerant consumers
During an intense workout (including endurance activities) your body’s glutamine-stores could be depleted. If this happens, your body might break down its muscles for energy. Luckily, this supplement contains glutamine and beta alanine. The formula is completed with just enough taurine to get you back in shape after a tough training session.
- Simple formula that improves the natural muscle recovery process
- Contains black pepper extract which maximizes absorption
- Easy to blend and mix with any liquid you prefere
- Some customers claim their chosen flavor doesn’t taste good
This supplement was created with one goal in mind: to provide customers with just the right blend of amino acids like glutamine and beta-alanine for increased endurance. Additionally, the formula also contains magnesium and sodium, both of which are helpful in muscle recovery. Top that with the multiple fresh flavors available and you have the perfect post-workout snack.
- Extremely low in calories, so it’s perfect for any diet
- Contains useful micronutrients for muscle and joint recovery
- Multiple flavors available for extra diversity
- Some customers say the raspberry flavor isn’t that good
Having high endurance is a critical request for most sports out there – and luckily, today’s market offers more possibilities than ever to reach your maximum potential. As long as you know the most powerful ingredients (think creatine, BCAAs or iron) and what to stay clear from (chemicals and toxic substances), finding the best product is only a matter of time.
All the supplements we reviewed could help with the physical challenges faced by endurance athletes both before and after a training session. In the end, though, there are so many factors to consider, only you can figure out what works best for your needs.