Science of Supplements: Which are the Best for Improving Endurance?

Supplementation has met with both criticism and praise over the last few years. Some scientists purport that they serve only to empty your wallet, while others insist some are a good safeguard for ensuring you’re getting the right vitamins and minerals in a healthy diet. When it comes to endurance, we know that supplementation can have an effect on your performance. Caffeine, protein, creatine, and other supplements have been proven to improve endurance and energy levels. But how do you know which are the best? Below offers a guide to come common supplements that can help give you a boost in your workouts.

Research Matters
Research companies have to maintain high levels of diligence when it comes to bringing new brands to the market. Without proper research, it’s impossible to know if a supplement is having a suitable effect on their target and how they affect different people. New products like ASEA Science molecular based supplements are making strides by having third party research firms test and confirm their accuracy. Make sure that any supplement you choose has been properly vetted to ensure the highest possible potency.

Caffeine is a well-known supplement that can help reduce the feeling of fatigue and extensive research has been done on it. Researchers continually find that it has a marked effect on endurance activities like cycling, running, swimming and cross-country skiing. It may not help in the long-term for marathon runners, but runners who ingested caffeine before an 8-kilometer run showed improvements in their times.

Creatine Monohydrate
Creatine is typically marketed to help you build strength. It’s good at helping to increase phosphocreatine stores, rATP production, and improving your anaerobic performance. It’s also been shown to decrease recovery time between exercise sessions. This results in an increased level of endurance to help you achieve your exercise goals.

Sodium Phosphate
Red blood cells need to be able to deliver oxygen to active muscles and sodium phosphate plays a major role in that delivery chain. Supplementing with sodium phosphate has been shown to increase endurance in performance athletes, and it’s a good supplement for any endurance athlete to include in their diet or regimen.

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
BCAAs have been shown to help reduce fatigue in endurance athletes by reducing the amount of tryptophan that crosses the blood-brain barrier. While tryptophan is essential to the body and can promote the release of serotonin, it also has a negative effect on your ability to run long distances. It can result in a feeling of exhaustion, and you may end up losing energy. BCAAs compete for the same protein carriers, which can reduce the amount of tryptophan that actually makes it past the blood-brain barrier. Additionally, BCAAs have been shown to speed recovery time.

While exact timeframes can vary per person, the body typically runs out of glucose stores after the first hour of endurance activity. When this happens, the body can begin to use protein as an energy source. If you don’t have enough protein in your body, it attempts to use fat stores and muscle tissue for energy before accessing protein. Getting enough protein can help you go longer and maintain your pace. If you don’t consume enough, there is a good chance your body will begin to cannibalize itself as you enter into a state of ketosis. Getting enough protein will help you run those last miles without sacrificing your health. Try to increase your intake through diet and foods.

Intense physical activity can drain your glutamine stores faster than your body is able to create them and can result in longer recovery times and less energy during your workouts. Supplementing with glutamine can help prevent this kind of issue from occurring and make your endurance workouts last a little longer.

No matter what supplements you take, it’s a good idea to go over your choices with your doctor. When you get blood tests done, if you’re not telling your doctor the supplements you’re taking, you could get inaccurate results. Some supplements have the ability to mask more serious issues and make you appear healthy when you’re not.

the author

"Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan."

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