Finding the best energy supplement for athletes and runners
An aspiring runner or athlete will be aware that your training regime plays a relatively small role. In fact, your entire lifestyle can impact the success of your training. You need to get adequate recovery, sleep and nutrition.
One of the most important factors is having enough energy for your workouts, and throughout the day. A normal energy level requires good sleep and a balanced diet. However, many athletes use caffeinated, sugary energy drinks to provide a sense of alertness. While this can be a temporary solution, there are alternative ways for runners and athletes to support natural energy-yielding metabolism.
Here, we discuss the necessity and potential benefits of a dietary supplement for athletes and why they may choose certain ingredients to boost daily energy levels. We also cover what qualities to look for in supplements to get the most benefits.
Do runners and athletes need dietary supplements?
The short answer to this question is no. Supplements are not necessary for normal energy-yielding metabolism; you can obtain all the proper nutrients from a well-balanced diet. However, those training for peak sport or running performance could benefit from a supplement to provide additional nutrients. Before using a supplement, ensure you optimise the following lifestyle factors:
- Sleep - sleep at least 8 hours per night and aim to sleep and wake at similar times every day. Research also suggests that sleeping earlier in the night is beneficial. Musculoskeletal recovery also occurs during sleep.
- Rest and recovery – similarly to sleep, recovery is essential for athletic performance. Overtraining and under-recovering can lead to fatigue and a drop in performance. Frequent, intense training sessions can also impact your immune function, putting you out of action if you get unwell.
- Diet – make sure to include a balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in every meal. Also, pay particular attention to vitamin and mineral intake. Specific vitamins and minerals are essential for energy, performance, recovery, and muscle function. Balancing electrolytes may also be necessary for your sport.
- Protein – although every macronutrient is essential, pay particular attention to protein, the building blocks for muscle tissue, hormones, and enzymes. For optimal recovery and performance, make sure each meal and snack contains a good protein source. 0.5-3.5g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight is usually recommended for building muscle mass. Protein powder can be used to boost intake.
Once you optimise all these facets, you can consider a supplement to boost performance.
What supplements are safe for athletes?
Healthy energy levels rely on several processes in the body; it is not regulated by one single mechanism. However, research has found that some vitamins and minerals are essential for normal energy-yielding metabolism and/or the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. These are as follows:
- B-vitamins – vitamin B12, B6, & B2
- Vitamin C
- Folic acid
- Pantothenic Acid
Other popular supplement ingredients for athletes include:
- Amino acids – the individual sub-units of proteins are essential to include in the diet, there are nine essential amino acids that we can olnly get from food. Amino acids have very specific functions and we need them for optimal health.
- Creatine Monohydrate – this is used by many athletes to boost strength, power and speed. Plenty of research suggests it is safe and effective for athletes.
- Caffeine – Caffeine supplements are great for temporarily increasing alertness.
- Electrolytes – endurance athletes may want to use electrolytes to replenish those lost during exercise.
What to look for in energy supplements for athletes
Choosing a high-quality supplement is always essential, especially if you want to boost athletic performance. Here, we discuss which ingredients to look for when selecting a running supplement and which formulas will be the most beneficial.
Firstly, look for vitamins and minerals to support normal energy levels or reducing tiredness. Although you can obtain these from the diet, supplements can be a convenient way to ensure you consume the proper vitamins and minerals daily. Particularly look for B vitamins (B2, B12, B6), magnesium, thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid, folic acid, copper and biotin.
You may also want to choose amino acids such as l-theanine, l-glutamine and l-lysine. Also consider taurine.
There are three main supplement formats – tablets/gummies/capsules, powders or supplement drinks/liquid supplements. Tablets and capsules can be convenient, but they can contain low dosages and may not be suitable as a complete nutritional supplement. Supplement drinks are popular for athletes because the ingredients can be quickly and effectively absorbed; energy gel supplements are often drinkable. One issue with supplement drinks is that they can be cumbersome and aren’t always convenient to carry.
Supplement powders can deliver the same benefits as drinks. Still, they can be more convenient to carry around and can be added to water, juice or your favourite smoothie recipe. Compact powder sachets can also easily fit in your gym bag to be used before, during or after your training session.
Zest Active energy supplements for athletes
Our supplement sachets are individually dosed and contain 25 ingredients for energy, immunity, cognitive function and muscle function; they are ideal for busy, active adults.
Eilish McColgan, a British and European Record-holder and 3-time Olympian, swears by the benefits of Zest Active.
Each stick sachet contains biotin, copper, folic acid, magnesium, manganese, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B2, B12 and B6, thiamine, vitamin C and vitamin D to support normal energy levels and muscle function. Zest Active is sugar-free and caffeine-free, so you can enjoy a stimulant-free energy boost without spiking your blood sugar. You can use our delicious nutritional supplement on its own or mix it into your pre, intra or post-workout drink. The handy stick sachet makes it easy to carry and pour into your bottle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I take a pre-workout before running?
There is no need to take a pre workout supplement before endurance training if your energy levels are sustained throughout the day. Although, caffeine drinks are popular. For long-term sustainable energy, it is best to avoid reliance on caffeinated beverages before running.
Do elite runners take creatine?
Many elite athletes take creatine to boost strength, speed and power. Sprinters, weightlifters, powerlifters, and swimmers could benefit from a creatine supplement.
What supplements improve running endurance?
You can support your endurance running by using electrolytes, eating plenty of carbohydrates and making sure your vitamin and mineral intake is adequate.
What do athletes take for energy?
Most athletes take supplements for energy. Common ones are creatine, caffeine, electrolytes and certain B vitamins. Amino acids are also popular for a variety of other reasons.
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What to read next
- Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Acute Skeletal
- Going to sleep at 10pm linked to lowered risk of heart disease
- Nutritional strategies to counter stress to the immune system in athletes, with special reference to football
- How much protein do you need to build muscle mass?
- International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine
- Faster but not smarter: effects of caffeine and caffeine withdrawal on alertness and performance
- Taurine in sports and exercise