Top 5 Supplements for Crossfit Athletes

1 Creatine

It should be no surprise that creatine monohydrate made the list. Not only is it one, if the THE most effective performance supplements out there, it's also one of the safest! Numerous studies have shown its ability to increase muscle mass and strength levels, boost high-intensity work capacity, and improve body composition.

How does it work? At the onset of intense exercise, your body relies on creatine, phosphocreatine (PCr) to be more specific, to produce energy. When you supplement with creatine, you actually increase the amount of PCr your muscles store, allowing for quicker regeneration of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body's source of energy.3 This important for any type of activity that requires a rapid energy source during high-intensity explosive exercise--which applies to practically every CrossFit workout.

Recommended Dose:
The fastest way to increase muscle creatine stores it to follow the loading method of 20 grams per day for 5-7 days, followed by the standard maintenance dose of 5 grams per day. However, a lower dose of 5 grams a day for about a month will also increase creatine stores without causing any weight gain typically seen with a loading protocol.

Recommended Creatine

2 Beta-Alanine

CrossFit workouts are known to be high-intensity with varying compound movements. Training at this type of intensity, especially at the volume of certain WODs, your body creates massive amounts of metabolites, specifically lactate and hydrogen ions. Contrary to popular belief, it's not lactic acid that causes the “burning” sensation in your muscles, it's actually the accumulation of hydrogen ions. Overtime this build-up of H+ can interfere with muscle contraction and lead to fatigue.

This is where beta-alanine comes in. Beta-alanine helps to increase your body's stores of carnosine, a dipeptide that buffers (or removes) access hydrogen ions. By supplementing with beta-alanine, you can improve your exercise performance and training volume, ultimately helping you crank out an extra round in your next AMRAP or shave a few seconds off the dreaded WOD, Fran.

Recommended Dose:
Similar to creatine, you can take beta-alanine at any point during the day. However, you'll want to consume 3-6 grams per day for atleast 28 days to maximize carnosine stores. If you're not a fan of the tingling feeling beta-alanine can sometimes give you, split your dose into smaller servings throughout the day.

Recommended Beta-Alanine Products

3 BCAAs

Whether you're a CrossFit athlete or not, I can't think of a single reason why you wouldn't have branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) as part of your supplement stack. For one, they taste damn good and can help make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day. Secondly, sipping on BCAAs before or during workouts can help speed up the recovery and repair process after a tough workout.

Of the 3 amino acids that make up the BCAAs, leucine helps to regulate protein metabolism by promoting protein synthesis and suppressing protin breakdown--helping to improve the recovery of muscles damaged during training. You may also experience less soreness and fatigue when you take them before your workout.

Recommended Dose:
6-10 grams before or during your workouts. Look for products that contain a 2:1:1 ratio or leucine:isoleucine:valine, this will help ensure you're reaching the leucine threshold to maximize protein sysnthesis.

Recommended BCAA Supplements

4 Fish Oil

Any CrossFitter will tell you that recovery is just as, if not more, important than the actual workout itself when it comes to building strength, muscle mass, and improving all -around performance. Fish oils, which are an excellent source or amega-3 fatty acids, are key players in the recovery process. EPA and DHA -- to w essential fatty acids found in fish oils--can help to reduce the post-exercise muscle soreness and speed up the recovery process.

Omega-3s are also important for maintaining a healthy heart, improving cognitive performance, and can even have favorable effects on your body composition!

Recommended Dose:
1.5-3.0 grams of EPA and DHA combined each and every day. If you can, try to take these with a meal that contains a little bit of fat to help with absorption.

Recommended Fish Oil Products

5 Protein Powder

Sure you can meet your protein needs through whole foods alone, but if you have multiple workouts in a day, or you go straight from the Box to work, nothing beats having a convenient, ready-to-drink source of protein-like protein powders-to jumpstart protein synthesis and assist with muscle repair.

The tricky part is figuring out which type of protein to consume. Fast-digesting protein like whey is a great choice for post-workout as it can help improve your muscles' ability to recover and adapt after strenuous exercise. However, combination proteins, like whey + casein can keep the body in a highly anabolic environment for a prolonged period of time, helping to keep rates of protein synthesis up, while minimizing any muscle breakdown. If you follow a palie diet, then stick with egg or beef proteins. They may be a little bit harder to find, but you'll get the same benefits as a whey protein.

My one recommendation would be to avoid soy and casein alone immediately post-workout as it won't stimulate muscle protein synthesis to the same degree as whey or whey + casein.

Recommended Dose:
Aim for 20-30 grams of protein immediately post-workout, or use in between meals to ensure your body continues to build and repair your muscles.

Recommended Fish Oil Products