Getting into shape is one of the most common things that pop up in most people’s New Year’s resolution lists, but many of them will quit the gym after only a few visits (or none at all). For athletes and fitness enthusiasts that do make exercise a regular part of their schedule and are looking to achieve fitness goals that lie further down the road than simply “getting in shape”, workout supplements and sports nutrition are essential parts of the journey. Whether it’s building muscle to lift more, jump higher, or run further, here’s are some uses of workout supplements and sports nutrition to complement your exercise routine and push your body’s limits even more.
There’s no more essential ingredient to a healthy and well-performing body than a wholesome diet. This holds even truer for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Fueling your body for workouts means covering your bases with plenty of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water.
Carbohydrates & Fats
Diet trends may have given carbohydrates a bad name, but the truth is that they are essential in sports nutrition, providing about 40 to 50 percent of athletes’ energy requirements. Complex carbohydrates can be found in whole grain products, as well as potatoes, cereals, and pasta while additional simple carbohydrates are abundant in fruits, milk, and honey. The more intense your workout, the more carbohydrates your body needs.
Fats is also an important energy source for athletes; insufficient consumption may limit performance. However, there is a difference between bad and good fats, so athletes should be careful in choosing to eat the latter. Healthy fats are commonly found in olive oil, nuts, avocados, fish, and other foods.
Proteins, Vitamins, & Minerals
Complete proteins are necessary to all kinds of healthy diets, but those with substantial workouts may find the need to increase their normal intake. Proteins shorten recovery time, help fortify muscles, and boost the immune system. General recommendations for protein intake in endurance athletes are between 1.2-1.4 grams protein per kilogram of body weight per day; resistance and strength-trained athletes may need as much as 1.6-1.7 grams protein per kilogram of body weight.
Athletes and fitness enthusiasts should also include fruits and vegetables rich in the critical nutrients necessary to maintain the body in their diet. Among these include fiber, potassium, vitamin C, A, D, B12, and folate along with many others. Failing to consume adequate amounts of these nutrients can lead to fatigue, muscle damage, lower immunity, and other detrimental effects on training and recovery times.
Water is certainly the most critical factor in maintaining good health. The body is made up of around 70 percent water, aiding proper brain function, the removal of toxins, metabolizing fats, digestion, oxidizing the blood, lubricating joints, transporting nutrients, and much more. Furthermore, dehydration has been shown to lead to a considerable drop in performance, so it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Though not really necessary, workout supplements can give you an edge in your athletic performance by boosting general fitness and overall health. Many people choose to add extra protein as a supplement, with whey protein as the most preferred choice since it can easily be added to smoothies and sports drinks. Fish oils also make an excellent option, being full of omega-3 fatty acids that aid in recovery as well as anti-inflammatory properties.
Some other popular workouts supplements include creatine for improving high-intensity work capacity, muscle mass, strength, and body composition and beta-alanine, known for its ability to raise intramuscular carnosine content, delaying fatigue and boosting training volume.