The Best Supplements For Runners and Endurance Athletes
Running is all about endurance and sustaining your performance over the course of an hour, two hours, three hours, or longer. Unlike high-intensity training, long-distance running and endurance is complemented with a completely different mindset and require different nutrients to efficiently fuel your body over a prolonged period of time. Long-distance running has less to do with explosive power and much more to do with sustained endurance and what it takes to maintain running performance throughout the run.
Without the right supplements before your run and during fundamental replenishment times, your body will not have enough energy, stamina, or power to perform at optimum levels. Likewise, post-run recovery is just as important and provides its own set of challenges. So, let's talk about what supplements you'll need to maximize your running performance and post-run recovery.
THE BEST SUPPLEMENTS FOR RUNNERS AND ENDURANCE ATHLETES
L-carnitine is an amino acid that is naturally found in muscle tissue and plays a critical role in energy production. L-carnitine is unique in its essential role in fat metabolism, transporting fatty acids across the mitochondrial membrane for subsequent breakdown and energy production. The body’s number one energy source is its fat stores and l-carnitine helps the body use its fat stores faster and more efficiently for improved energy production.
It’s common for runners and endurance athletes to turn to carbohydrates or glycogen as the most important energy source for running and endurance. But, the body’s fat stores provide a much greater energy source than carbohydrates. As a comparison, one fat molecule provides 129 ATP whereas one glucose molecule provides just 30 ATP. That’s over four times the amount of energy per molecule. So it pays to optimize the body’s utilization of its fat stores.
So, what type of l-carnitine is best? Although each type of l-carnitine is a little bit different, its important to remember the main role of each type of l-carnitine is to improve fat metabolism, transporting fatty acids across the mitochondrial membrane for improved cellular energy production. With that said, the three forms of l-carnitine we recommend are Acetyl-L-Carnitine, L-Carnitine Fumarate, and L-Carnitine Tartrate.
- The additional benefits of Acetyl-L-Carnitine are most often associated with cognitive function and even anti-aging benefits. Studies suggest acetyl-l-carnitine can help reduce stress, improve memory, and fight off neuron degeneration throughout the brain and nervous system.
- Studies show L-Carnitine Tartrate dramatically improves the body’s ability to oxidize fat cells which assists in the production of energy and burning of fat while reducing muscle related oxidation during intense bouts of exercise.
- L-Carnitine Fumarate is a combination of l-carnitine with fumaric acid. Fumaric acid is a component of the Krebs cycle and plays a key role in generating energy. The combination of fumaric acid with l-carnitine provides dual support for energizing the heart and muscles.
If you're thinking of adding l-carnitine to your running or endurance training routine, we recommend picking a form of l-carnitine that is right for you or an l-carnitine supplement with a blend of different forms of l-carnitines, like our cardio and endurance supplement Cardio Surge Energy. Cardio Surge Energy is formulated with three kinds of l-carnitine as well as other ingredients that work synergistically to further optimize its effectiveness.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: CARDIO SURGE ENERGY
CITRULLINE MALATE 2:1
Citrulline Malate 2:1 is a combination of the organic compounds L-Citrulline with Malate in a ratio of 2 to 1. First discovered in watermelon, L-Citrulline is turned into L-Arginine and Nitric Oxide in the kidneys, which supports better blood flow throughout the body. By improving circulation, oxygen, and nutrient delivery increases, which supports muscle cells better while eliminating toxins such as lactic acid and ammonia. Malate also plays an important role in the cell’s energy production cycle in the body. This allows muscles to continue to exercise with more power and energy during periods of physical activity.
According to a 2006 study conducted by Hickner et al. found that citrulline malate improved treadmill tests, where subjects were able to improve time to exhaustion. A second 2016 study conducted by Takashi et al. discovered subjects who consumed 2.4grams of citrulline malate daily for 7 days were ale to reduce time to completion by 1.5% during a 4km cycling time trial.
Based on the available research, citrulline malate appears to be an effective supplement that provides great health and performance benefits. Taken 30 to 60 minutes prior to exercise can improve aerobic and anaerobic performance, increase ATP synthesis, boost nitric oxide levels in the body, and support greater blood flow to working muscles.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: CARDIO SURGE ENERGY and GLYCO-MUSCLE FUELER
L-Carnosine is an amino acid that is naturally found in skeletal muscle. L-Carnosine supplementation helps to keep the ph in muscles neutral. This effect means that L-Carnosine allows cells to undergo more stress from physical activity while increasing muscle strength, endurance, and helping to speed up recovery. L-Carnosine has also been shown to be a powerful anti-oxidant and has very positive action in helping to reverse diseases where glucose uptake is a problem. For athletes, it means that energy reserves can be more quickly called upon during exercise.
For athletes who exercise regularly, l-carnosine is beneficial because it helps prevent the buildup of lactic acid in muscles that occurs during long runs or endurance workouts. This results in less muscle burn and feeling of fatigue.
L-Carnosine also acts as a natural antioxidant, meaning it neutralizes or destroys any free radicals. Free radicals can damage certain parts of DNA or the cell membrane itself. This results in cells decreasing in function and eventually dying off. To prevent this issue from occurring l-carnosine attacks and destroys free radicals when they are present within the body.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: CARDIO SURGE ENERGY and GLYCO-MUSCLE FUELER
When it comes to endurance training and prolonged exercise, no macronutrient is more important than carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide the second-best energy source, after fatty acids, but carbohydrates are a much faster-acting energy source and can be consumed during long runs or exercise sessions. The better we can supply glycogen to the working muscles, the longer your exercise time to exhaustion. This is why runners and endurance athletes practice carbohydrate loading, and consume carbohydrate shakes or eat carbohydrate energy bars, energy gels, or other carbohydrate-dense foods during long endurance training sessions or events.
With carbohydrates and glycogen, it’s all about how much you can store and how well you can keep yourself fueled during long endurance runs or prolonged bouts of endurance exercise.
The amount of glycogen the body can store will vary depending on a person’s size and how well they practice carbohydrate loading. According to clinical research, muscle glycogen stores must be replenished daily for optimal training performance and muscle glycogen synthesis. The average endurance athlete can store roughly 400 grams of glycogen (1,600 calories) in their muscle and an additional 100 grams of glycogen (100 calories) in their liver. However, these amounts can be improved by eating a carbohydrate-rich diet. For the average endurance athlete, 500 to 600g of carbohydrates is required daily.
So, the question becomes, which type of carbohydrate supplement is best? With countless carbohydrate supplement powders to choose from, it can get confusing fast. Many of the supplements found online and on supplement stores shelves are formulated using fast-acting simple carbohydrate sugars, like dextrose, maltodextrin, and highly branched cluster dextrin or HBCD. The problem with these carbohydrate supplement powders is that they’re made from sugar that spikes blood sugar levels and can cause a crash in energy. . . Not to mention cause unwanted body fat gain. The one thing you don’t want to happen during a long endurance training session or race is to have your blood insulin levels spike too high then crash and hit a wall.
On the flip side, there are carbohydrate supplement powders like waxy maize that are relatively slow-digesting carbohydrate powders. The problem here is that they can take too long to start providing energy when you need energy fast. Additionally. they often sit in your stomach making you feel bloated and lethargic.
If you’re looking to add more carbohydrates to your diet and especially around your endurance training, during endurance events or while running, it’s important to add a carbohydrate supplement that will provide you with the energy you need, when you need it to help boost your performance, but won’t cause any negative side effects. Performance carbohydrates like Karbolyn is a homopolysaccharide made from potatoes, rice, and corn and provide both fast-digesting carbohydrates for quick energy and slower digesting carbohydrates for sustained energy for up to two hours. We recommend Glyco-Muscle Fueler since it is formulated with Karbolyn and provides the benefits of both fast and slow digesting carbohydrates without the negative side effects. Additionally, Glyco-Muscle Fueler provides added ingredients for improved carbohydrate utilization and energy production.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: GLYCO-MUSCLE FUELER
Creatine is naturally present in muscles and is used as a quick energy source. However, by consuming creatine, endurance athletes and runners can replenish creatine stores and cellular energy faster, which is the body’s first step in the recovery process. By supplementing with creating post endurance training, the body can focus on repairing muscle damage faster and ultimately speed the recovery process.
Supplementing with creatine has also been shown to improve running performance. No just recovery. A group of scientist from England and Estonia took five endurance runners at Tartu University in Estonia and had them supplement their diets with 30 grams (six five-gram doses per day) of creatine monohydrate per day for six consecutive days and tested them against a placebo group.
Each group ran four 300-meter and (on a separate day) four 1,000-metre intervals, with three minutes of rest between the 300-meter work intervals and four minutes of recovery after the 1000-meter reps.
Creatine dramatically improved the runners’ efforts. Compared to the placebo group, improvement in the final 300-meter interval (from pre to post supplementation) was more than twice as great for the creatine group users, and improvement was more than three times as great for the creatine supplementing group for the final 1000 meter interval. So, creatine can absolutely help endurance athletes too.
RELATED ARTICLE: https://pnpsupplements.com/blogs/training-ground/how-to-properly-cycle-creatine
The key to supplementing with creatine is to load creatine stores to get the body to store more creatine. This is done progressively over several weeks with a short loading period of higher dosages, followed by a lower dose period to sustain higher levels of creatine. We recommend adding Recover Surge to post-training recovery regimens because it provides creatine, which replenishes creatine store, boosts recovery, and other important ingredients like BCAAs, L-Glutamine, and our Muscle Cleanse Matrix to optimize post endurance training recovery.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: RECOVER SURGE
Intense endurance training, such as running, drains Glutamine stores faster than the body can replenish them. When this occurs, the body breaks down muscles and becomes catabolic. Following an intense endurance workout, the levels of cellular glutamine in the body can drop by as much as 50% and plasma levels can drop by 30%. The “muscle wasting state” is a gateway for the body to break down and use its muscles for energy.
For endurance athletes, supplementing with glutamine can prevent the “muscle wasting state” from happening and improve recovery, muscle-building efforts, strengthens gut health and the immune system (T-helper cells), boost metabolism, and overall better performance.
For endurance athletes like endurance runners, l-glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid, meaning the body’s demand for glutamine increases and the body can’t synthesize a sufficient amount of it, so it must be obtained from the diet and/or supplementation. By taking glutamine intra workout or post-workout, you’ll help prevent the body from breaking down muscle tissue.
I recommend adding Recover Surge to an intra or post-workout recovery drink. Recover Surge’s dosage is based on body weight, but most endurance athletes are getting just over 5 grams of l-glutamine per drink. Recover Surge also delivers other beneficial ingredients endurance athletes need to reduce soreness, speed recovery, and optimize the post runs and endurance training recovery.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: RECOVER SURGE
BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS (BCAAs)
Running or training for endurance on a regular basis means your burning up calories. As mention earlier, your body will first use glycogen as its first source of energy, then it will rely on your fat stores for energy. However, as you keep pushing, your body will want to start utilizing muscle tissue for energy.
Research has shown that BCAA’s can act as a fuel source during exercise and can be delivered more efficiently to muscles. BCAAs also increase resistance to fatigue, reduce muscle damage, and promote muscle protein synthesis, which combats muscle breakdown after long runs or endurance training sessions.
BCAAs may also help you bounce back faster after an endurance workout. BCAAs inhibit cortisol, which can cause muscle breakdown, and therefore contribute to faster muscle recovery (and less soreness). Leucine, in particular, is great at stimulating muscle protein synthesis. Leucine lines up other amino acids together to form new muscle tissue.
I recommend with either a pure Branched Chain Amino Acid supplement or PNP Supplements’ Recover Surge which delivers its BCAAs in a ration of 2:1:1. Recover Surge delivers BCAAs, glutamine, creatine, and additional ingredients, which are crucial for recovery especially for endurance runners.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: RECOVER SURGE
WHEY PROTEIN ISOLATE
Everyone needs protein. However, as an endurance athlete, you need more than the average, mostly sedentary, individual. With more muscle and being more concerned about recovery from endurance training sessions, protein should be a priority.
The interaction of post-exercise metabolic processes and increased amino acid availability maximizes the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis and results in even greater muscle anabolism when dietary amino acids are not present. What this means is when protein is introduced after exercise, your body is much more likely to have what it needs to repair and replenish itself from the damage experienced during intense endurance training.
All athletes burn some amount of protein during activity, especially when carbohydrate stores run low. Protein although most often associated with recovery and muscle synthesis, serves many important functions in the body of an endurance athlete.
- Protein is needed for the formation of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to exercising muscles.
- It’s critical for controlling fluid volume and maintaining water balance.
- Proteins that are consumed are digested and broken down into amino acids that then go into an amino acid pool that can be drawn from if carbohydrates stores run low.
- The Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) found in protein are critical in repairing muscle damage that has occurred during exercise.
- BCAAs also help synthesize muscle production for building lean muscle.
These are just a few examples of how protein assists the body before, during, and after long endurance runs or other endurance activity.
With all the different protein supplements available today, it can be a challenge choosing the right one for you. I recommend whey protein isolate. Whey protein isolate is one of the purest forms of protein that delivers roughly 90% pure protein per serving. Whey protein isolate is cross-filtered and isolated. Meaning the carbohydrates, fat, and lactose is filtered out, so you get a more pure and amino acid-rich protein as a result.
With each serving, whey protein isolate delivers a complete amino acid profile of both essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids, which is vital for muscle maintenance, repair, and growth. Research has proven whey protein isolate is the best form of protein to help build muscle mass as well as burn body fat.
Whey protein isolate is also one of the fasts digesting protein sources available and it provides a fast-acting source of protein that can be immediately used by muscle tissue to help prevent muscle breakdown, help rebuild, and assist with recovery after endurance training sessions.
Runners and endurance athletes can benefit from supplementing with Whey Protein Isolate to deliver the complete amino acid profile they need to maintain mass, recovery, and health.