When the word "supplements" is mentioned to most people, the first thought that runs through their mind is a muscular physique. People sometimes equate supplement use either with professional bodybuilders or those who are looking to resemble such a physique. In other cases, they may believe that supplements are only for people who are experiencing a dietary deficiency and need to take various vitamins to improve their health.
It's important not to let yourself jump to these two assumptions, however, as there is a wide variety of purposes that supplements can serve. One very good example of this is endurance training.
If you're currently involved in any type of endurance activity, whether it's cycling, running, or even if you plan to do a fair amount of cross country skiing over the winter, there is a supplement that can help aide your performance.
Let's have a quick look at some of the most beneficial supplements that endurance athletes can be using.
Energy Boosting Beverages
Most endurance athletes have specific beverage routines that they follow throughout their training sessions and races. It's important that you spend some time figuring out how much liquid is optimal for your body so you aren't taking in enough to cause cramps or enough nature calls to distract you from the workout.
Overlooking fluid replacement during your workout session would be a critical error because dehydration has negative effects and can cause fatigue among endurance athletes. You don't necessarily have to take in high volumes of fluid, but you need to take in enough to maintain a minimum water balance to keep performing.
The specific beverage you use during the race will vary from individual to individual, but before the race or workout actually begins you may want to consider some of the popular energy boosting beverages that are available.
Healthy Blood Support
In order for you to perform well in endurance events, it's important that you have plenty of oxygen transported to the workout tissues. The means of transporting oxygen is through the blood supply, so it's important to maintain healthy blood flow.
One major issue that can sometimes occur is a problem with iron, which is quite common in those who lead vegetarian lifestyles or simply don't consume very much red meat.
Using a product with extra iron you will be sure you're getting the amount you need. In addition to this, some products may also support an already healthy immune system, which can be jeopardized when high levels of endurance exercise are performed.
Carbohydrates To Go
While most endurance activities—which are primarily an aerobic form of exercise—can utilize fat as a fuel source, carbohydrates will still be the body's preferred source of energy.
By providing the body with a steady stream of carbohydrates throughout the session, you prevent fatigue from setting in early and increase your ability to go harder for a longer period of time. Ideally, these carbohydrates need to be readily accessible to the body, not taking a great deal of time to be broken down and converted to usable glucose.
Using a product that has additional carbs will help make sure you get enough into the muscle cells quickly, while avoiding the crash you would experience with other simple forms of sugar.
It's important that these carbohydrates also sit well in the stomach, because the last thing you want is to be sidelined due to not feeling well.
Power Packed Bars
If you're planning a much longer endurance trip, such as going biking over the course of an entire afternoon, then you're going to want some solid, quick food to turn to. You'll be burning up a great deal of calories while you're out exercising, and these calories need to be replaced for you to continue.
Carbohydrate beverages during exercise can accomplish this goal, but they are often quite diluted and after awhile they won't be enough. This is when you should start looking into some of the energy bars that are available. These will contain more calories as well as added protein, which many carbohydrate beverages lack.
Having something solid to eat will also satisfy your appetite better, which can help psychologically with putting forth the effort to complete the workout.
Finally, the last supplements endurance athletes may want to consider are stimulant products. These are really going to give you an extra boost on days you need it and when you don't think you'll be able to get through the entire workout.
Caffeine is the common ingredient found in these products and will deliver energy in approximately 30 minutes from ingestion. Second to that you'll often also see synephrine listed which is also used for energy and may increase fat-burning as well.
* Ratings as of article's date of publication
Keep all of these supplements in mind if you're an endurance athlete and are looking to get a little more out of each workout. It goes without saying that you should also be fueling your body well in the time period leading up to the exercise session and immediately afterward to replace the muscle glycogen you've used up, and promote a fast recovery.