Maybe you’re a competitive athlete, or maybe you’re a weekend warrior. Regardless, it’s important to hone in on more than just the work you put in at the gym to see results from your workouts.
In addition to a healthy diet, adding in some key supplements can enhance results in terms of increased strength, energy, recovery, and more.
Why not feel your best so you can make the most of each workout?
Continue reading this article to understand more about some of the top supplements for athletes, and how they can benefit you on your fitness journey.
Collagen – the most abundant protein in the body – is found in bones, muscles, skin, ligaments, and tendons.
Research shows that taking collagen supplements can help relieve joint pain and increase bone mineral density, which can help protect against exercise-related damage. This can help keep your body strong and support recovery after exercise (1).
A quicker recovery time allows you to get back in the gym sooner, helping you to continue working towards your goals and perhaps even see quicker results.
What’s more, collagen can even help increase muscle mass, helping to speed up metabolism and reduce overall body fat (2).
When choosing a collagen protein powder, make sure to look for a high-quality product, with no artificial additives, and sourced from pasture-raised cows.
Plus, it’s easy to add collagen to your routine. Before or after a workout, simply blend it into a protein shake, smoothie, oatmeal, or even coffee.
Creatine is a great supplement to help increase energy for athletes. It’s arguably one of the best supplements for those looking to increase muscle mass and boost strength.
There have been hundreds of studies to support creatine’s benefits, most of which consistently demonstrate its performance and recovery-enhancing properties (3).
Many athletes are taking creatine as a pre-workout supplement to help them increase resistance and speed during their workouts – especially workouts that require high-intensity output such as sprinting or lifting heavy weights.
In addition to boosting energy, strength, and performance, creatine can also help the muscles recover quicker during exercise, allowing for a longer, more effective workout.
Look for creatine monohydrate supplements, the type of creatine most well-researched and best absorbed, with minimal ingredients.
3. Protein powder
Including protein powder is key for athletes. With increased exercise comes increased protein needs, and therefore, adding protein powder is a fantastic way to help meet your daily needs.
Some athletes may require up to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. This means a 150 lb individual would require 136 grams of protein per day.
This is when protein powder supplements come in handy. Many protein powders contain 30 grams of protein in just one serving.
Protein powder is most commonly mixed into a shake or smoothie as a pre-workout or post-workout supplement. It can also make for a great meal replacement or snack during the day.
When protein powder is consumed after a workout, the protein can help stimulate muscle synthesis, to improve muscle growth and recovery (4).
Luckily, it’s easy to find a protein powder that works with essentially every diet. Athletes can choose from a wide variety of protein powder options such as whey, pea, soy, or rice protein.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that may not be on the radar for many athletes. However, research continues to show the importance of vitamin D not just for the general population, but specifically for athletes.
Vitamin D is found in a few food sources such as egg yolks and fortified dairy products. It’s also produced in the skin when we are exposed to sunlight.
One reason that vitamin D is important for athletes is its integral role in bone health. Vitamin D works to help absorb calcium, which is necessary for our bone health and preventing bone loss, especially as we get older.
Plus, higher vitamin D status has been associated with reduced injuries and improved performance in athletes (5)
Before starting to supplement with vitamin D, it’s important to know your current vitamin D levels. If labs indicate low vitamin D, ensure to incorporate a supplement to increase your levels.
Glutamine is an amino acid that has been shown to boost performance for endurance athletes.
In fact, supplementing with glutamine may even reduce muscle soreness after a workout and speed recovery (6).
It’s been suggested that including glutamine in your post-workout supplement regimen can reduce muscle breakdown that occurs after a workout, therefore helping the body to retain more muscle.
What’s more, glutamine helps restore muscle glycogen levels which are key for continued endurance, enabling athletes to work out more frequently, for longer durations.
Beyond glutamine’s benefits for workout and recovery, it helps boost the immune system and supports healing, keeping athletes in tip-top shape to optimize their performance.
How to incorporate supplements into your routine
Focus on a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods. Ensure to eat a varied diet with adequate protein, carbs, and fats, getting a mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein foods, and low-fat dairy products, for example.
In addition, adding a few key supplements can enhance and improve strength, stamina, and support recovery for athletes.
Many athletes integrate their supplements throughout the day both before and after their workouts.
For example, you might choose to incorporate collagen in your morning smoothie, add creatine to your pre-workout shake for increased energy, and perhaps mix glutamine and protein powder in your post-workout shake to support muscle growth and recovery.
Regardless of how you choose to incorporate your supplements, what’s most important is that you are consistent with the supplements that work for you. After all, building consistent healthy habits is what leads to success.
Although the benefits of supplements will depend on which specific ones you choose to incorporate, these top 5 supplements are frequently being used by athletes to increase energy, strength, promote muscle growth and recovery, and protect the bones and joints.
Remember, while supplements for athletes can enhance health and performance, they should not replace a healthy, nutritious diet.
Whatever supplements you choose to use – whether it be collagen, creatine, protein powder, vitamin D, glutamine, or all of the above – be sure to incorporate as directed and pair with a balanced diet to maximize the potential benefits.