By Jack Chalet
These nutritional supplements will help promote strength and endurance without acting as stimulants
In the media firestorm around athletes using illegal substances to gain a competitive (if illegal) edge, natural and safe performance enhancers have gotten a bad rap. But bodybuilders and other serious athletes have often been the vanguard of using and promoting healthy nutrients for better strength and endurance. Plenty of nutritional supplements can enhance your athletic prowess - not by working as stimulants, but rather by tweaking your biochemistry to boost energy levels, improve performance and build muscle, as well as aid recovery.
Without a doubt, protein is number one. "Higher dietary protein intakes are anabolic (that is muscle building), not just for athletes, but for all people," says Loren Cordain, PhD, professor of exercise physiology at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, and coauthor of Paleo Diet For Athletes (Rodale, 2012). That's because muscle consists mostly of protein, a word derived from the Greek proteios, meaning "of greatest importance."
If you want to increase your lean muscle and strength consume more protein overall. In addition, a post-workout protein shake is also optimal for maintaining and building muscle.
Not sure how much protein is enough? Take a look at our protein calculator to figure out how much you need!
There are a number of protein supplements to choose from, with the most popular kinds being whey powders that can be mixed with liquid to make a protein shake. But you can also choose to go all natural or pick a plant based protein powder too!
Click here to see a range of proteins available from Hi-Health.
When it comes to energy and stamina, think in terms of mitochondria. All of your body's cells, but especially muscle cells, contain these specialized structures that break down carbs and fats for energy. Coenzyme Q10 (coQ10), L-carnitine and the B-complex vitamins help convert food molecules to adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule that carries the chemical energy produced by mitochondria. Later on, creatine helps cells recycle and reuse ATP. Also, recent studies on the amino acid beta-alanine show that it can significantly boost athletic endurance. DOSE: 100mg coQ10; 1,000 mg carnitine; a B-complex supplement; 5 grams creatine; or 6 grams beta-alanine daily.
Muscle & Strength BuildersThe protein that forms muscle consists of chains of amino acids. So if you want to increase your lean muscle and strength, consumer more protein. Protein supplements abound, with most sold as powders to be mixed with water or other liquids. Look for whey (derived from dairy) or vegetable-source proteins such as soy, algae and hemp, as well as multi-amino-acid supplements.
DOSE: Follow label directions.
If you exercise strenuously, you'll end up with sore muscles and may need a little help to quickly beounce back. "L-leucine and the other two branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), L-valine and L-isoleucine, are different from other amino acids because they stimulate both the building and repair of muscle," says Cordain. Although most studies have focused on men, a 2013 University of Vermont study found that BCAAs improved post-exercise recovery and eased muscle soreness in female college students. Curcumin, a powerful natural anti-inflammatory, also appears to reduce post-exercise muscle soreness and stress, according to two new studies.
DOSE: 3 grams L-leucine, with about 1.5 grams each of L-valine and L-isoleucine, daily.
Intense exercise can lead to inflammatory injuries, including muscle strains. The omega-3s are well-known for their anti-inflammatory and anti-pain benefits; 15 years ago the Danish Olympic team began using a combination of omega-3 fish oils and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) to reduce inflammation in injured athletes and to speed healing. The same regimen can also help weekend warriors suffereing from tendonitis. On the mend? British researchers recently suggested that a combination of omega-3s and L-leucine might prevent muscle atrophy during lengthy periods of healing.
DOSE: About 700mg omega-3s and 700mg GLA daily.