Energy In a Cup: Best Supplements for Crossfit
A balanced nutritional intake – like eating protein, complex carbohydrates and monounsaturated fats will help enhance your fitness levels and offer a healthier way of life.
However, when it comes to building muscle mass and strength, protein (1) is the most critical nutrient. That is why opting for the best supplements for crossfit is so crucial.
While you can consume protein in a slew of different food sources such as fish, eggs, chicken, meat and certain fruits, this article will shed light on the importance of protein powders, more specifically, whey protein. And there is a reason why whey protein is turning to be a supplement of choice for bodybuilders and athletes, and that is the fact not everybody wants to consume a lot of meat, fish or other forms of proteins.
Protein is a very critical aspect of endurance training and muscle recovery. However, there are plenty of other types of supplements that you can combine with protein and enhance your crossfit training.
Who is crossfit for?
Due to the wide freedom of choice in exercise it offers, crossfit training can be scaled to fit your level of health, endurance and stamina. While this exercise is popular among military teams or martial artists, it can be equally beneficial for those with less experience looking to tone up. However, you will most definitely a coach to help supervise your daily exercises and to perfect your techniques. (1)
Crossfit envelopes a broad range of strength and cardiovascular exercises, offering a powerful combination to stay healthy, lean and strong. Our guide on crossfit supplements will offer a comprehensive look at the best products that help both beginners and professionals reach their physical goals easier and faster.
How does crossfit work?
Perhaps one of the most versatile training programs out there, crossfit combines pretty much all the popular workouts in one session. From weight lifting to cardio and gymnastics, the purpose of this training is to push your limits as hard as you can – from every point of view.
Most of the times, crossfit sessions are done in warehouses, or ‘boxes,’ which provide enough space for students to move from one type of training to the next. But the most important thing about this sport is that it never stays the same. A crossfitter will almost never repeat the same session twice per week to keep every muscle group alert. (2)
Crossfit aims to maximize your stamina, endurance, strength and agility over a longer period. The more efforts you put in the shortest possible time, the higher the yield.
Should anyone avoid crossfit?
The issue on whether crossfit is for everyone has been long debated. Clearly, if you’re suffering from health problems such as heart, blood pressure or joint disease, you should speak with a doctor before engaging in this activity.
Other than that, though, you can never know if crossfit is right for you until you try it out! Many enthusiasts enjoy this training because it gives a sense of community and support few other programs do. It’s crucial that you choose the right trainer for you – one that matches your personality and who can create a program that matches your current physical needs.(3)
The most usual physical challenges in crossfit
Perhaps the main physical quality that is required and exploited in crossfit is endurance. And all endurance athletes have one thing in common – and that is the fact that not resting will definitely lead to frequent and serious injuries.
Some of the most common bodily challenges faced by crossfit or endurance athletes are tendon pain, shoulder pain, plantar fasciitis, joint pain and IB friction syndrome. Apart from these injuries, athletes can also fall prey to severe muscle pain, muscle fatigue, exhaustion and cramping.
However, these physical challenges can be dealt with if you rest well, sleep on time and supplement your workout combining protein and necessary vitamins and nutrients.
What happens to your body during crossfit
As we mentioned earlier, crossfit is all about performing the largest number of exercises in the shortest time possible. If it sounds stressful, well, that’s the whole point of the workout!
Just like many other sports, crossfit triggers the production of stressors which, in return, make the body enter the general adaptation syndrome. As you begin your fitness workout, your body is pretty much ‘shocked’ by the amount of effort required. Naturally, muscle fibers are broken and cell membranes are destroyed (which leads to the oh-so-wonderful post-workout soreness).
During crossfit, your body will also enter what is known as the “aerobic exercise state” (5). As the body functions in the AES, it will start producing energy through oxygen. The more intense the exercise, the more oxygen your body has to use; long-term, various exercise such as crossfit basically trains your cells to extract and use oxygen better so you have better endurance during workouts. (4)
But just because your crossfit session ended, it doesn’t mean your body ends its job too! During the next 36 hours post-workout, your body evaluates the damage caused during training: broken muscle tissue, stretched ligaments and injuries if they occured. At this point, your muscle cells use protein to repair and increase their resistance – which is how you get stronger.
Most effective crossfit supplement ingredients
Along with carbs and fiber, protein is one of the macronutrients that turn out to be crucial for physical performance, strength and muscle development. The essential amino acids in protein control insulin levels, help you recover faster and enhance muscle repair.
Protein supplements can originate either from animal sources (whey, casein) or plant ones (soy, pea, brown rice). Regardless of the choice, athletes of all types choose to consume this ingredient on a daily basis.
The downside: Sometimes protein supplements may cause digestive discomfort – whey concentrate in particular. Also, plant-originated protein like pea or rice doesn’t contain all the amino acids required by the body. However, all these issues can be avoided by choosing a high-quality product.
As one of the most acclaimed sport supplements out there, creatine is naturally produced by your system. Research proved that it boosts physical resistance and improves performance especially in intense physical training such as crossfit. Furthermore, creatine also promotes body mass and muscle repair in a healthy, natural way. (6)
The downside: There’s no scientific evidence that creatine could be harmful to your health. However, if you exceed the recommended dosage, you may experience unpleasant symptoms like nausea, stomach pain or muscle cramps. (7)
Our body relies on BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, for increased muscle protein synthesis, reduce soreness and regain energy after a workout. Studies proved that supplements rich in BCAAS improve mental focus, which is essential for intense crossfit training sessions. (8)
The downside: BCAAs supplementation can influence the production of serotonin, a hormone that makes you feel good and sleep better. Consuming these acids in larger amounts, or right before bed, may alter your quality of sleep, so make sure to stick to the right dosage at the right hours. (9)
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega fatty acids, derived from fish oil, are very common, and there are plenty of reasons why fish oil is great for endurance athletes. These supplements also improve your lipid profiles, decrease the level triglycerides and enhance your brain function and acuity. Omega-3s have incredible anti-inflammatory elements without any adverse affects.
The downside: Sometimes, omega-3 fish oil may cause unpleasant digestive symptoms like stomach pain and nausea. However, these risks only increase when you exceed the daily recommended dosage of 3 grams. (10)
B-vitamins are essential for boosting energy function and they play a critical role in improving your neurology – effectively transmitting vital signals throughout the brain. That helps enhance your mood and they detoxify the blood and vital organs after you’re done exercising or eating.
The downside: Although vitamins may seem harmless, taking too much of the B complex at once could trigger vomiting, liver problems and sensitivity to light. Sure enough, all these problems can be avoided by sticking to the usual dosage. (11)
Due to how busy and robust our lives have become – working all day, it is no doubt we aren’t able to get a the required amount of vitamin D from the sun. We are indoors most of the time. Vitamin D is a critical nutrient that helps maintain your respiratory system, enhance your mood, supplement your bone health and keep inflammations at bay.
The downside: Side effects and risks associated with vitamin D are extremely rare; in other words, it would take a ridiculously high dosage to experience symptoms like vomiting, high blood calcium levels or kidney problems. (12)
The scoop on buying protein supplements for crossfit
So, should you opt for protein supplements? What are the best products? What is even more difficult is knowing what question to ask.
It’s not rare that the best supplements for crossfit are mistaken due to various reasons ranging from false advertising to simply not doing enough research..
Luckily, I am going to outline, what in my opinion, are some of the best supplements you crossfitters should opt for. But before we get into that here are some geeky yet, critical information on protein supplements you will find interesting.
The 5 best supplements for crossfit
When it comes to popularity, the 100% Gold Standard Whey by Optimum Nutrition is one of the most successful supplements in the market. This product is a balanced blend of protein and carbohydrates and has no less than 25 flavors available!
The whey protein isolate provide a more efficient absorption, which is essential for crossfitters looking to maximizing their performance. And with a good amount of BCAAs as well as glutamine, ON 100% Whey can provide you with quick muscle recovery and gain.
- Whey protein isolate with glutamine and BCAAs
- No residual blending
- Multiple flavors available
- It is artificially sweetened
- Fake products in the market
With 15 grams of protein and only 2 grams of sugar, this supplement meets the daily needs of any crossfitter. Although it contains no more than 110 calories, each serving packs up precious micronutrients like vitamin D, B vitamins and iron. As a plus, the tasty chocolate flavor turns this product into the healthiest desert you may drink!
- Available in different flavors
- Very low in sugar so it matches most diets
- Contains wide range of vitamins and minerals
- Lactose-intolerant consumers may experience bloating
Now we’re talking! The complex formula of this powder has everything it takes to support a training schedule that’s constantly changing. With only 3 grams of sugar per serving, the product is a perfect mix between well-processed whey protein and creatine. On top of that, the high concentration of BCAAs boosts recovery and brings your energy levels up on a daily basis.
- Quality whey protein for rapid muscle building and healing
- Low in sugar so it fits most diets
- Creatine increases energy and endurance
- Contains milk, so it’s not suitable for lactose-intolerant people
Could it be that a supplement so tasty is so low in carbs? Absolutely. This BSN powder packs up a healthy dose of vitamin D which, as we know, promotes both endurance and post-workout recovery. However, its biggest asset is the multitude of BCAAs that keep you focused and alert during each crossfit session.
- Helps muscle and joint recovery post-workout
- Increases energy levels in a natural way
- Wide range of flavors available
- Doesn’t contain complete protein
If you’d prefer a more natural supplement for crossfit, then you might consider going for Orgain. I tried it once, wasn’t to my taste, however, I was quite pleased with the results. It is vegan-based protein supplement of course. It combines a powerful blend of Seeds, Organic Brown Rice Protein, and Organic Pea Proteins.
It has no gluten, GMOs and soy, thus being one of the healthiest options on our list.
- Best for losing weight while gaining muscle
- Protein sourced from nothing but organic sources
- Ideal for vegans and lactose-intolerant people
- May generate gas for sensitive individuals
Selecting the optimum crossfit protein supplements is often a trial and error process, Of course, all of the products on our list are extremely beneficial to any crossfitter regardless of the training level. Our personal favorite, though, is Nature’s Bounty Optimal Solutions.
First of all, this product contains 15 grams of protein per serving, which is a perfectly balanced quantity for both beginners and experienced people. The formula also includes powerful micronutrients like vitamin D which, as we know, improves respiratory functions and therefore increases endurance.
Furthermore, we have to admit, a good powder also needs to have a pleasant flavor. Luckily, Nature’s Bounty Optimal Solution is available in both chocolate and vanilla flavors, which makes it feel more like a cheat meal than a healthy option. All of these benefits turn this powder in a powerful option that can help anyone reach their crossfit goals faster and more efficiently!