by Laurel Sterling, MA, RD, CDN
Whether you are a professional athlete or a weekend warrior, athletes of all types and abilities want to maximize workouts, enhance performance, and reduce recovery time following strenuous exercise. There are many nutritional supplements available to accentuate pre-workout, during activity, and post-workout. Some are depleted through exercise and need to be replenished. Others support healthy joints, muscles, mobility, energy production, and recovery.
Core nutrients for every athlete, regardless of routine or skill level, consist of: a multivitamin, vitamin D3, and omega-3s.
There are other beneficial nutrients targeting extra joint and muscle support like tart cherry, boswellia, ginger, and curcumin. And ones for additional energy production during pre-workout like d-ribose. A glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM formula is also important to maintain healthy joint and connective tissues.
Amino acids are also extremely important for athletes. Referred to as the building blocks of protein, amino acids are structural components of body tissues such as muscle, hair, collagen, enzymes, antibodies, etc. Certain amino acids are helpful for pre- and post-workouts, and some crossover to assist both.
So whether you're a weekend warrior or intense athlete, you need to make sure you get the basic nutrients you need to support optimal health and activity levels. Beyond that, there are many to choose from that can enhance athletic performance, improve mobility, support joints and muscles, and assist with exercise recovery.
You may think that a well-balanced diet full of fruit, veggies, and lean protein will provide sufficient fuel for an active lifestyle. But if you’re hitting the gym regularly, it may not be enough. Certain vitamins and minerals are critical for your muscles to work efficiently and for energy production and recovery. However, moderate to vigorous exercise increases nutrient requirements, and some minerals are lost through sweat.
A multivitamin is key for athletes – it provides B vitamins for energy support, calcium and magnesium for bone health, vitamin D3 and iron for endurance, potassium for exercise recovery, and more. But a few additional supplements can help take your workout to the next level.
RIBOSE: THE ENERGY NUTRIENT
If you’re an athlete and you’re not taking ribose, you’re missing out. D-ribose is a simple, natural sugar made by the cells. It’s critical for producing the energy molecules that power the heart, muscles, brain, and every other tissue in the body. According to Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, it can dramatically increase energy production throughout the body, which is wonderful for athletes.
GLUTAMINE: MUSCLE FOOD
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the human body, and most of it is stored within the skeletal muscles. Glutamine is particularly important for athletes, as it helps speed up recovery time following vigorous exercise and can help increase strength during workouts. Glutamine is also necessary for energy production in the muscles.
OMEGA-3S: A RECOVERY MUST-HAVE
Omega-3s get a lot of attention for their role in heart, brain, and eye health, but they can also benefit athletes by supporting post-workout recovery. Omega-3s help increase protein synthesis, helping to increase strength and build muscle. As an additional benefit, omega-3s are critical for supporting optimal joint health.
TART CHERRIES: AN ATHLETE SUPERFOOD
Elite athletes are taking notice of tart cherries for their powerful antioxidant properties and recovery support following an intense workout. Look for tart cherry juice and tart cherries in supplement form, which may be a more convenient way to consume a hefty dose of powerful antioxidants.
The Daily Dose blog features health and wellness articles from Senior Nutritionist & Educator Jolie Root, LPN,LNC; Nutritionist & Educator Laurel Sterling, MA, RDN, CDN; and Featured Guest Blogger Karen Roth, MSNC. Other guest bloggers will also join us.
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