Which Supplements Best Support *Your* Fitness Goals?

by | Updated: December 4th, 2016 | Read time: 5 minutes

You know the importance of protein in your diet. In fact, you’ve probably been committed to your favorite protein powder longer than any romantic relationship you’ve had. And there’s no reason to separate now. You do, however, need a nutrition plan that goes beyond your high school glory days. Your body is more mature, more physically stressed and more needy than ever before. So what else do you need? Depending on your specific fitness goals, you’ll want to add a few key vitamins, minerals, aminos and more – your performance depends on it.  

The Best Sports Supplements for Your Body

Crossfitters

As a Crossfit fanatic, your muscles are accustomed to short but extremely intense exercises. You’re combining power and speed in nearly everything you do. This kind of muscular demand calls for fast-acting nutrition before, during and after your WODs.

Beta-alanine – Beta-alanine binds to the essential amino acid L-histidine to form carnosine, which has great antioxidant properties to help slow oxidative stress.* It’s a non-essential amino acid, but it’s been proven to help athletes perform at high intensities. That’s why higher concentrations of carnosine are commonly found in fast-twitch muscles – the ones engaged during those beloved box jumps. Add unflavored beta-alanine to your pre-workout drink for peak performance.

BCAAs – Every athlete can benefit from branched-chain amino acids, but you need them to help speed up recovery between workouts. These ready-to-use amino acids aid in protein synthesis – especially when paired with a simple carb source like fresh-pressed juice. You can take BCAAs as quick nutrition when you’re rushing to the box. Otherwise, save this muscle-building mix for after your workout to kick-start the recovery process.

ZMA (zinc monomethionine aspartate, plus B6) – Thanks to all that sweating, your active body could be losing out on two important minerals: zinc and magnesium. Zinc is known to promote a healthy hormone balance in athletes in addition to playing a critical role in protein synthesis. Magnesium is involved in over 300 metabolic reactions, including muscle contractions. For a restful night’s sleep (and fresher legs come morning), take the recommended dose of ZMA at bedtime.

Endurance athletes

Long training hours, limited sleep and lots of pounding on the pavement are what it takes to make a strong endurance athlete. It’s also a recipe for overtraining and complete exhaustion. To avoid the pitfalls of going for that PR, you’ll need the support of these supplements.

Electrolytes – It’s a no-brainer, but the amount of sweat you lose during a four-hour workout must be replaced somehow. You spend a lot of time under the sun and on top of steaming-hot black tops. So balancing your electrolytes is not only a good idea, but absolutely necessary for summertime sessions. If you’re prone to excessive sweating and/or heat exhaustion, take an electrolyte tablet one hour before your workout and every hour during the workout (provided it lasts more than one hour).

Glucosamine – Repetitive forward motion adds stress to your physical structure. But with a daily glucosamine and chondroitin supplement, you can support your overworked joints and help keep you flexible and strong to the bone.* (Regular cross-training wouldn’t hurt, either.)

Turmeric – Turmeric is a unique root extract known to promote a healthy inflammatory response in the body.* As an athlete who is constantly in stress-and-repair mode, managing inflammation is critical to helping you push on…and on…and on. Turmeric can be reserved for your toughest training days. Or, look for a daily multivitamin that’s already formulated with the good root.

B12 – Between long weekend sessions, two-a-day workouts and your career and family obligations, sleep isn’t top of the to-do list. When you’re feeling run down, a little B12 can bring you back to life. Liquid methylcobalamin is the preferred form of B12 for improving alertness when you need it most.*

Bodybuilders

Preparing for a show means making some extreme nutritional sacrifices. Between carb-cycling , putting sauces on the side and cutting out cocktails, you’re determined. It’s all about those gains…which you will get when with a strict diet and the right optimizing supplements.

Creatine – If you’re looking for change, look no further than a quality creatine supplement. ATP (adenosine triphosphate: the source of all muscular energy) is used up quickly by muscle cells when performing high-intensity exercises. To replenish ATP, phosphocreatine donates its phosphate molecule to ADP (adenosine diphosphate). This allows for several more seconds of all-out effort. By supplementing with creatine before and after the gym, you’re helping yourself work out longer and harder for faster results.*

L-arginine/nitric oxide support – The amino acid L-arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels and opens the flow of nutrients to your muscles. When used post-workout, a nitric oxide-promoting supplement can support growth hormone synthesis for better muscle pumps.* Look for a formula with citrulline to help the body regulate ammonia levels, plus vitamin C or another flavonoid-rich nutrient for antioxidant protection.

Glutamine – This abundant amino acid is found in high concentrations in blood plasma, but sometimes more is more. Glutamine is a well-known recovery supplement, because it helps defend muscles against stress and fatigue. But in the big picture, glutamine also helps maintain nitrogen/ammonia balance for optimal muscle metabolism (the general process of breaking down macros to produce energy and muscle mass).* The above-average lifters take in about 5 grams of glutamine on training days.

Health nuts

You’re training for the biggest event of all: life. You work out to maintain a healthy weight and help wager your bets with genetic demons. That’s perfectly normal, but exercising more and eliminating fried foods may not be enough. You may not be able to change family history, but you can still leave your own healthy legacy behind.

Fish oil – You may get enough omega-3s from your clean eating, but what about those cheat days? If you’re splurging on the weekends but still hitting the weight room hard, a fish oil supplement will support your joint health and flexibility – even more important as the years go by.* The trick to finding a fish oil supplement is to read the reviews, find a flavored formula and make sure it provides adequate EPA and DHA (the two most studied essential fatty acids).

B vitamins – As an active parent and active gym-goer, energy slumps are bound to happen. Not only will a B-complex formula help keep you wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, but B vitamins are known to benefit everything from your nervous system to heart health.* I recommend taking B vitamins with food daily or whenever you have an especially busy week planned.

Probiotics – Balancing work, family and training is hard enough. Even thinking about how to keep your physical being balanced is beyond your capacity. That’s where probiotics come into play. These beneficial bacteria support healthy digestion for an inner peace like no other. A basic formula can be taken every day to keep you feeling your best.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.