There are a million different supplements types and brands out there, all of them with pretty convincing marketing. Save your money and don’t buy unnecessary (or even harmful!) supplements. If you are a runner, cyclist, triathlete, hiker, or any other endurance athlete, you may find better performance with some key supplements.
Pro tip: Always look for the NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Choice logo. That means the supplement has been third-party tested and clean for anti-doping rules.
Here are a few that may help with endurance performance with good research to back them up.
Caffeine is a well-researched ergogenic aid. It has been shown to help with mental sharpness, reaction time, time to fatigue, and mood. It’s widely used in many cultures throughout the world. It’s commonly found in tea, coffee, some herbal drinks, and many sports food products like energy drinks, gummies, gums, and gels.
A common dose is around 100-200 mg of caffeine taken before a workout. Caffeine can be addicting. If you have any symptoms such as jitters, nervousness, or rapid heartbeat, stop taking caffeine and seek medical help.
Sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, is a common household ingredient used in many baked goods. It can also be used as a sports supplement. It may help buffer acid that builds up when doing an intense workout (that is often described as a “burning” sensation in muscles). To use, mix 20-30 grams of sodium bicarbonate into 16 ounces of water. Sip slowly over the course of two hours prior to working out. Drinking it slowly gives your stomach a chance to digest it. Drinking it too fast may lead to stomach upset. Try this during a normal training session to see if it is effective for you, before using it outdoors or at an important event. This would be a helpful supplement if you have an intense training day with intervals or sprints.
Beta alanine is also a buffering agent that may help with “burn” and “pump.” Try taking four to six grams daily for at least four weeks. It can help in situations where the burning sensation in the muscle is uncomfortable (like a hard sprint) and may hinder you from performing the way you would like.
Beet root juice/nitrate may be able to help with endurance training by improving exercise performance and also decreasing the cost of oxygen used to complete the exercise. Nitrate found in beets (and also green leafy vegetables) converts to nitric oxide in the body, which is a substance that helps dilate (enlarge) blood vessels. It can potentially increase blood flow to muscles. It may help with “pump” and burning sensation when exercising as well. To use, drink four to six ounces of beet juice before exercising. Some studies show that people may need to take it consistently for a few days to see some results. Other studies show that it may be helpful even if taken only hours before the exercise. Current research also seems to suggest that the better trained an athlete is, the less effect beet juice may have on exercise performance.
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~This is general information only and not medical advice. Always seek advice of the healthcare professional before changing anything about your diet or lifestyle.