Supplements for Endurance Athletes
Success as an endurance athlete often means outlasting your competition. Superior endurance comes by way of hard training and adequate nutrition. Sometimes, the demands of your sport pushes your nutritional needs past what your diet alone supplies. Supplements can help fill the gaps in your nutritional program and keep you going strong.
Staying hydrated is an important concern for endurance athletes. Water is used by your body to carry nutrients to muscles, excrete waste and regulate temperature. For activities lasting longer than an hour, sports drinks may keep you hydrated, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Sports drinks contain electrolytes like sodium and potassium, which help your body retain water. Sports drinks also provide energy through simple carbohydrates.
Endurance gel, also called energy gel, is a thick, syrupy gel that contains simple sugars and electrolytes. Endurance gels offer a distinct advantage over sports drinks in that they are concentrates, and thus more portable. Endurance gels are sold in single-serve packets that are easily carried without hurting performance. Because the nutrients in energy gels are concentrated, you need to take them with water.
Branched-chain amino acids, often referred to as BCAAs, are amino acids found in high concentrations in muscle tissue. During exercise, BCAAs are often metabolized for energy, breaking down muscle in the process. Supplementing with BCAAs before and after exercise may limit the amount of muscle wasted during exercise, helping you maintain strength and muscle mass throughout hard training.
Caffeine is recognized as a performance enhancer by the American Council on Exercise. Caffeine is a potent neuromuscular stimulant and helps improve awareness and fight fatigue during long-term exercise. Although caffeine is generally regarded as safe, it should still be treated as a drug. Too much caffeine can cause jitters, adrenal fatigue and mood swings. The amount of caffeine in a large cup of coffee is enough to produce noticeable results without adverse side effects in most people.