Top 12 Supplements for Athletes: Discover the best for Your Needs
Being an athlete is not an easy job especially when you’re playing against your competitors. It becomes critical to maximize your performance and supercharge your body with extra energy to take your game to the next level. In the realm of sports and fitness, it’s undeniable that proper nutrition plays a vital role in achieving peak performance. While a nutrient-rich diet remains the foundation of athletic performance, there are instances where we seek an additional advantage to push our limits and surpass our goals. This is where supplements come into play.
Supplements are the products that are added to the diet to increase its nutritional value. Supplements can enrich your diet without putting additional calories in it. Nutritional supplements help boost your physical strength and endurance.
With the rise in competition among athletes worldwide, there is global demand for the best supplements for athletes to boost their stamina and endurance. Statistics show that the retail price of sports drinks has increased in the past year to an average of 9.19 U.S. dollars per case in 2019. The global sports nutrition market and supplement was valued 44.43 billion U.S. dollars in 2021 and is expected to increase in value to 85.7 billion U.S. dollars by 2030.
In this blog, we will discuss the top 12 supplements for athletes, how to choose the best supplements, their benefits, and possible adverse outcome.
Top 12 Supplements for Athletes:
Whether you’re a professional athlete or a fitness freak aiming to boost your performance, nutritional supplements assist you in unlocking your full potential and dominating your chosen field.
Supplements include vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and amino acids. They are available in various forms like pills, powder, capsules, and gummies. There is a list of supplements that can help you boost your energy levels and maintain your physical fitness.
So, without any delay, let’s explore the world of top-tier nutritional supplements that can help you take your athletic journey to new heights!
1. Vitamin B
Vitamin B is a good source of energy as it helps in metabolism and new cell synthesis. Vitamin B supplements contain the following vitamins:
- B1 (Thiamin)
- B2 (Riboflavin)
- B3 ( Niacin)
- B5 ( Pantothenic acid)
- B6 (Pyridoxine)
- B9 (Folate)
The best source of these vitamins are leafy green vegetables, broccoli, peas, kidney beans, and liver.
Vitamin B complex can enhance the performance of athletes during exercise, reduce fatigue and accelerate recovery after a workout.
2. Vitamin D and Calcium
Vitamin D and Calcium are good for your bone health and muscle strength. You can get it from eggs, fish, and fortified milk products. Vitamin D can also be obtained from sunlight. Vitamin D and Calcium supplements can make your bones stronger and prevent fractures of bones during heavy exercise.
Iron deficiency is very common among people because it is lost daily in sweating, excreta, and menstrual blood in females. Iron is good at reducing fatigue, enhancing athlete performance, and boosting immunity. Food rich in iron is red meat, liver, kidney, poultry, eggs, and fish.
Iron supplementation helps maintain healthy iron levels and supports the production of red blood cells, boosts oxygen-carrying capacity, and enhances overall athletic performance.
A protein-rich diet is essential for lean muscle mass. Protein supplements are still on the top for athletes. Red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products are good protein sources. Besides, protein powder is one of the best supplements to strengthen your muscles so your biceps can endure more pain.
According to research, the Annual Growth Rate of whey protein is (Is 16.4% from 2013-2017 and 9.4% from 2018-2022)
5. Omega 3 Fatty Acids:
Omega 3 fatty acids are superior for decreasing inflammation and improving muscle strength and circulation. They also help with cardiovascular health and optimize brain functions. Fish and other seafood, plant oils, nuts, and seeds are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Their anti-inflammatory properties assist in muscle recovery and prevent muscle injury in athletes.
Creatine is a legal nutritional supplement and is obtained naturally from plants. It is very good for obtaining lean muscle mass, muscle strength, power, and energy. The cells in our body use adenosine triphosphate(ATP) as a source of energy. Creatine helps provide ATP to the cell. Thus, it is an add-up to the fuel tank of your body. Creatinine is one of the best nutritional supplements for athletes who opt for heavy workouts.
7. Branched Chain Amino Acids
Branched ChainAmino Acids (BCCA) include Leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These essential amino acids can be obtained from outside as our body cannot produce them naturally. They are essential for muscle growth. Their deficiency can cause easy fatigability, and supplementing the diet with these amino acids can improve muscle growth, reduce muscle soreness and encourage muscle recovery in athletes.
Coenzyme Q10 is a naturally occurring enzyme in the mitochondria that can provide good support to our heart and brain. Studies have proved the benefits of this supplement in enhancing endurance and performance. Their primary sources are whole grain, salmon, liver, and kidneys. Although it is produced naturally in our body, its level reduces with age, so you need to take it from a supplementary diet.
Coffee not only just trails up your body, but it is also a useful supplement. It is essential for brain health. It improves your resilience, increases focus, and enhances endurance. It does not let you feel exhausted easily. By taking just one cup of coffee, you can spend 3 to 4 hours of quality time for your workout. Coffee stimulates the central nervous system and enables athletes to perform maximum, especially during high-intensity workouts.
Your muscles use 30% of your body’s magnesium for strength and energy. Magnesium can be taken from sunflowers, oats, nuts, and supplements. It also provides good support to your heart and regulates blood pressure. Magnesium improves muscle performance and prolongs leg strength so you can work out for hours.
Magnesium is involved in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. It prevents muscle cramps, fatigue, muscle twitching, and muscle soreness.
Your joints are affected the most during strenuous exercises and workouts. Gelatin helps produce stronger bones, cartilage, and tendons. Collagen is a form of connective tissue in our body, and gelatin is a synthesized form of collagen. If you want stronger bones and flexible joints that can endure all the challenges during a workout, you should add gelatin to your diet.
12. Sports Probiotics
If you want a healthy gut during your workout, sports probiotics are the most suitable option. Probiotics optimize your gut health. They aid in the absorption of other supplements and make them readily available for your body. A healthy gut is the secret to a healthy mind. With a healthy mind, you can face all the challenges in your game.
According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 64% of athletes use nutritional supplements. The most predominant nutritional supplement was protein (41%), heeded by Branched Chain Amino Acids (37%).
Selecting the Best Supplements for Your Needs
Supplements can indeed enhance your performance in the playground. You might think about which supplements are the best to meet the demands of your body. Every person has different needs depending upon their goals, body types, and challenges. A single supplement is not able to meet that demand. Moreover, this need also varies with age. There are different needs for supplements for teenage athletes than for adult ones and males from females. Multivitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and potassium are various supplements for athletes over 40 years of age. Vitamin B complex, Vitamin K, Vitamin D, and C are essential Vitamins for female athletes. So the choice of supplements depends on taking care of the following things:
- Supplements can interact with the medications:
If a person is taking any medications, they can interact with some of the supplements, so you must consult your doctor before taking them.
- Supplements should be taken in balanced amounts:
Taking some supplements in large amounts can have severe adverse effects.
In case of any vitamin deficiency, some of them become ineffective, e.g., if a person has Vit B12 def, there will be decreased absorption of Iron. So you must consult your doctor to rule out any vitamin deficiency.
- A Balanced diet and healthy routine:
If you rely on supplements only without opting for a healthy routine, you are making a blunder. A balanced diet and sufficient sleep are also key factors in maintaining a sound and healthy body.
- Supplements for Vegan Athletes:
Vegetarian athletes should be cautious of their diet. As most of the supplements are obtained from non-vegetarian diets, they need to add other nutrients to their diet through pills and formula milk.
The Risks of Taking Supplements:
Undoubtedly, nutritional supplements have numerous benefits for your body. They can keep your body as fit as a fiddle, but taking them in the wrong way can be hazardous for your body. Their potential adverse effects can cause more damage to your body than benefits.
Risk over-benefit analysis
Before taking a supplement, you should know about all the potential benefits and risk factors of the supplements. A good supplement should be cost-effective. A proper analysis of the supplement includes reading the label properly to know about the number of active and inactive ingredients and the presence of any toxic product in the supplements. Some supplements contain substances that are not mentioned on the label. So you must have proper knowledge about the best nutritional supplement in which the benefit outweighs the risk; otherwise, it can turn out to be career-ending.
Adverse Effects of Supplements:
The same supplement that can supercharge your body and make you perform the best in the playground can also have negative effects if taken improperly. You should never neglect the advice of your dietician and healthcare professional. Some of the adverse effects are mentioned below:
- Protein powders are the best supplements for athletic performance, but some of these supplements contain heavy metals. You should always carry out proper research before using them. Other side effects include nausea, headache, palpitations, headache, dizziness, and insomnia.
- Coffee is also called ”a cup of morning joy”. Consuming too much coffee can cause palpitations and bloating.
- Creatine is a legal supplement for athletes. It is a safe supplement with no potential risk factor. The only thing of concern is that it can cause hair loss.
- Taking too much Vitamin D and Calcium can cause potential damage to your kidneys. Hypercalcemia (high calcium levels in the blood) is associated with kidney stone formation. It is critical to take the prescribed amount of these supplements to avoid their side effects.
- Too much Iron intake can cause heart complications and higher cholesterol levels in the body.
Ways to Reduce Possible Risk Factors:
Some countries have proper strategies that ensure supplement manufacturers have followed standard techniques and that supplements are capable of providing optimal health benefits. Before using them, you must check if the supplements are approved or not. There are many ways to check their approval before using them:
- Choosing the best quality product
As an athlete, you should limit buying those products that are sub-standard and have poor quality. It is better to follow proper guidelines and choose companies that produce high-quality products.
- Reading label properly
Product labels mention all the safe ingredients and potential side effects of the supplement. Before buying any supplement, read all the labels properly to explore their potential benefits and side effects. You must check the cautions mentioned on the label.
- Purpose of use
During the manufacturing process, the supplements are processed. They might lose their beneficial properties. You should always buy those products that have proven health benefits.
Taking everything into account, the list of best supplements for athletes doesn’t end here. One supplement is not enough to fulfill all the requirements of your body. The key element is choosing the best quantity of supplements and maintaining a wholesome pattern of a balanced diet and good sleep.
Supplements can enhance the nutritional value of your diet, but they are not a substitute. Dedicated and focused athletes can score their best when they devour a diet full of sufficient nutrients. As an athlete, you should take an adequate amount of fluids. A proper diet and appropriate physical training can help you to score exceptionally in the field.
Why do athletes take creatine?
Creatine is naturally produced in our bodies. It is stored in the form of phosphocreatine. Creatine helps delay fatigue and is the best supplement for athletic endurance. It improves muscle mass and physical performance of athletes. This is the reason that most dedicated athletes supplement their diets with creatine.
Do athletes need more vitamins?
Athletes use their body fuel at a greater rate than non-athletes. Their body metabolizes at a faster rate and functions at a drastic level. Therefore the requirement for micronutrients is greater in athletes. Taking the required amount of multivitamins is critical for lean muscle mass and the repair and maintenance of the skeletal muscle system.
What are the top nutrients for athletes?
Glucose is an essential fuel in our body that is obtained from carbohydrates. Proteins are essential for muscle strength and growth. Moreover, iron, potassium, zinc, multivitamins, calcium, and fiber are important elements of athletes’ diets. Keep your diet rich with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and red meat to power your body.
What are salt supplements for athletes?
Salts supplements contain sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium and calcium. They help keep the body hydrated, facilitate the contraction of the muscles and control the pH of the body. Salts are lost from the body during exercise. That is why they are added to the diet of athletes very often.
What is the most effective form of supplementation for sports performance?
Creatine is one of the most effective and most researched supplements. It improves muscle strength and power to produce strong muscle contraction. It is one of the best supplements for athletic performance.