Best Supplements for Athletes, According to a Dietitian
If you're an athlete who trains on a regular basis, or even just someone who is super active, you could benefit from consuming dietary supplements.
As Rachel Jones, MS, RDN, Chief Nutrition Officer at GNC tells Eat This, Not That!, intense daily exercise requires an increased need of various nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and fluids.
"Maintaining health and wellness through proper nutrition should be a top priority for athletes," she says. "It allows them to endure the physical stressors of exercise, improve upon their performance, and promotes faster recovery. Finding the time to eat and getting the nutrition needed from food alone is not always easy, or possible."
Below, you'll see the 10 categories of supplements Jones recommends an athlete—who's constantly hopping into training cycles—may want to consider taking. Plus, Jones gives recommendations for which supplements you can purchase. Then, don't miss Best Supplements for People Over 40, According to Dietitians.
"Exercising muscle through repetitive motion and impact, depletes energy stores and leads to tissue breakdown. Adequate protein intake is essential for muscle repair, maintenance, and growth. Supplementing the diet with a protein powder can help to ensure essential amino acids (like leucine) are available to support the recovery process," says Jones.
But before you buy protein powder, make sure to read this: The Surprising Truth About Protein Powders You Need To Know.
"Fish oil contains the essential omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA which support the body's natural anti-inflammatory process. It also provides dietary support for joint health and nutrients for maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system–three important areas for athletes to focus on for sport and recovery. If you're not a fan of fish or find it difficult to consume 2 to 3 servings of fatty fish per week, a fish oil supplement may be a great choice for you," says Jones.
"Vitamin D is best known for its role in supporting bone health by helping to maintain bone mineral density. Repetitive high-impact activities like long-distance running, put athletes at risk for developing bone health issues. New research suggests vitamin D may also be important for supporting soft tissue and overall health. Known as the 'sunshine vitamin,' vitamin D can be made through the skin from sun exposure, the diet, and supplements," says Jones.
Try one of GNC's Vitamin D3 supplements, to ensure adequate intake.
"Our natural response to a rising body temperature during exercise is to sweat. Too much fluid and electrolytes lost during activity can lead to dehydration, impacting performance. Proper hydration, along with electrolyte supplements ensure the replacement of minerals, like sodium and potassium, to help maintain fluid balance. Be sure to stay on top of your hydration goals throughout the day," says Jones.
Hydrant Rapid Hydration Drink Mix is a great option to shake things up!
Then, be sure to read One Major Effect of Drinking Electrolytes, Say Experts.
"Naturally found in beets and green leafy vegetables, nitrates act as precursors for the nitric oxide pathway by supporting blood vessel tone, blood flow, and oxygen regulation to working muscle. Consuming nitrates in the form of beetroot powder before workouts may support exercise performance and lengthen the time to exhaustion," says Jones.
Try adding Sunfood Superfoods Organic Beet Powder to your next pre-workout smoothie.
"Beta-Alanine is an amino acid and precursor to carnosine, a peptide with antioxidant and muscle pH buffering properties. As levels of lactic acid, a by-product of anaerobic efforts, become elevated—this leads to acidity in the muscle cells, contributing to fatigue. Higher levels of muscle carnosine, through the supplementation of beta-alanine, become key in controlling fatigue and supporting performance," says Jones.
Tip: GNC Pro Performance Beta-Alanine tablets are an easy addition to your routine.
"The most well-known and researched ergogenic aid, caffeine has been shown to support increased energy levels, delay fatigue, and improve physical endurance and performance. Often found in pre-workout supplements, caffeine can provide a boost of energy, offering a bit of motivation or pep in your step to get things moving. Caffeine can also be supplemented intra-workout to keep you shuffling along during those extra-long training runs or the last few sets in the gym. See what caffeine can do for your workout," says Jones.
Beyond Raw LIT Pre-Workout offers some amazing flavor options!
"Intense exercise increases the production of free radicals, causing damage to muscle cells, leading to muscle soreness. Antioxidants can help support the recovery process by combatting these free radicals, getting you back in the gym sooner. Are fruits and veggies too filling for you? Consider adding a superfood blend to your next post-workout smoothie to get the antioxidants benefits without the bulk," says Jones.
Amazing Grass Green Superfood Antioxidant has a sweet berry flavor to perfectly complement your favorite smoothie recipe.
"A familiar spice, turmeric has been used for centuries in both Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine to support many health goals. Touted for their powerful antioxidant properties, curcuminoids (the active compound found in turmeric), may impact cell signaling related to healthy joint functioning. Athletes should consider including a turmeric supplement as part of their routine—your joints will thank you," says Jones.
Check out GNC Herbal Plus Turmeric Curcumin to help suit your needs.
"Think of probiotics as the good bacteria your gut needs to support healthy digestion. Ask any runner and they'll tell you how important the role of digestion becomes during a long run or on race day. Supporting gut health daily with probiotics can help keep things moving along and running smoothly. Bonus – probiotics also help support immune health," says Jones.
GNC Probiotic Solutions Sport capsules are shelf-stable and don't require refrigeration.
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