Unlike high-intensity training, running is all about endurance. It’s not a sprint it’s a marathon. Literally. Long distance running is complemented with a completely different mindset and also requires different nutrients to efficiently fuel your body over a prolonged period of time. Without the right supplements during fundamental replenishment times, your body will not have enough stamina, energy, or power to perform at optimum levels. So let's talk about what supplements you'll need to maximize your performance.
The 6 Best Supplements For Endurance Runners
Carbohydrates are the most important macronutrient for endurance training and prolonged exercise. The major fuel source during your workout to provide long-lasting and sustained energy is glycogen. The greater your glycogen stores, the longer your exercise time to exhaustion. This is why endurance runners, and athletes will eat honey wafers, or energy gels, which are composed of simple or complex carbohydrates, to provide a fast-acting energy source to replenish glycogen stores [R, R].
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According to clinical research regarding muscle glycogen synthesis, for optimal training performance, muscle glycogen stores must be replenished on a daily basis. For the average endurance athlete, a daily carbohydrate consumption of 500 to 600g is required. This results in maximum glycogen storage of 80 to 100 mumol/g wet weight [R].
So what type of carb supplement is the best? Many of the carb supplements that you find online and at supplement stores are composed with fast-acting simple carbohydrates such as maltodextrin, highly-branched cluster dextrin (HBCD), waxy maize, or dextrose. The problem with these carb supplements is that they’re made with genetically modified cornstarch (sugar) that will spike blood glucose levels, build unwanted body fat, and energy crash. The last thing you need during a race is to spike blood insulin levels, then hit a wall.
Additionally, simple carb sources have zero clinical evidence showing that they actually increase human performance when tested against other carb supplements.
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If you’re thinking about adding in more carbs do you diet, it’s important to use a carb supplement that comes from a natural food source. Complex carbohydrates made from real food are the preferred and natural carbohydrate fuel source to provide long-lasting sustained energy. We recommend Clean Carbs, since it’s made with sweet potatoes, yams, rolled oats, and blueberries.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT Clean Carbs (45 Servings)
Beta-Alanine is a non-essential beta amino acid, which helps fight muscle fatigue by counteracting the development of lactic acid. By binding with naturally occurring histidine, Carnosyn® Beta-Alanine will increase muscle carnosine content. More muscle carnosine content will help build endurance, increase strength and significantly improve performance by buffering hydrogen ions. Hydrogen is produced from lactic acid, during resistance or high-intensity training.
When lactic acid rises, so does acidity in muscle tissue. When acidity increases, your muscle ability to contract decreases, which results in a loss of endurance and power. By buffering hydrogen through an increase in carnosine content, your muscles will be able to contract for a longer period of time and delay the onset of fatigue.
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CarnoSyn® beta-alanine demonstrated statistically significant delays in muscle fatigue and increases in exercise endurance and peak capacity across a wide span of athletic performance and different endurance sports such as sprinting, rowing, HIIT, and cycling.
In a study published in the Journal of Physiology, 15 male sprinters supplemented 4.8g of CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine for four weeks. The study proved that muscle carnosine concentrations increased after four weeks, which helps reduce muscle fatigue and promote endurance [R].
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT Beta-Alanine CarnoSyn (100 Servings, Unflavored)
Running on a regular basis, means you’re rapidly burning through calories. Your body first utilizes glycogen as its first source of energy, then it relies on body fat. The problem is that when your fat reserves are depleted, your body utilizes muscle tissue for energy.
Research has shown that BCAAs act as an energy source, by reducing serotonin. BCAAs also promote muscle protein synthesis, which will help reduce muscle mass breakdown after prolonged endurance training,
By supplementing with BCAAs you’re ensuring that your body is in a positive protein balance and remains anabolic (in the muscle building state), so that you can maintain and build lean muscle mass while endurance training.
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I recommend supplementing with Swolverine’s BCAA. It has added electrolytes and glutamine, which is crucial for hydration and recovery especially for endurance runners [R].
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT BCAA (Lemon-Lime 50 Servings)
L-Glutamine plays a pivotal role in helping your muscles rebuild and repair themselves, to prevent muscle soreness and aid in faster muscle recovery. During endurance training, your body will actually use and deplete all of its glutamine stores, which inhibit its function and decreases strength, stamina, and even compromises and lengthens the recovery period. By supplementing with L-Glutamine, you’re protecting your body from muscle mass breakdown and exercise-induced soreness.
Glutamine is also essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. Often overlooked, endurance runners can experience an increased susceptibility to illness, due to weakened immune systems while training. Glutamine is used by white blood cells to produce cytokines, (small proteins released by white blood cells). With an increased amount of cytokines, you invariably increase your body’s resistance to illness and protect your immune system.
Another benefit of Glutamine for endurance runners is its role in hydration. Hydration is crucial for the muscle recovery process and endurance training. If you are dehydrated following a workout, the process of protein synthesis will be hindered and subsequently delay the recovery process [R] Not to mention, effect your performance.
In a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, ten male subjects were administered 3g of L-Glutamine or a placebo to examine the effects of L-Glutamine ingestion on hydration during endurance exercise. The results found that time to exhaustion was significantly reduced and performance levels were significantly improved with higher concentrations of L-Glutamine. L-Glutamine uptake by the skeletal muscles resulted in greater sodium uptake. The enhanced sodium uptake by skeletal muscle may have contributed to a reduction in fatigue by maintaining strength and efficiency of muscle contractility [R]
With an ability to help sodium uptake for better hydration during training, Glutamine is a great supplement for endurance runners.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT L-Glutamine (Unflavored, 100 Servings)
Whey Protein Isolate
Whey Protein Isolate is a cross-filtered, isolated form of protein. It filters the carbs, fat, and lactose from normal whey protein, so you can get a more purified and potent protein content. Clinical studies prove that Whey Protein Isolate is the best type of protein to help build muscle mass and burn body fat. Endurance runners and athletes can benefit from supplementing with Whey Protein Isolate, to deliver vital amino acids to maintain a positive protein balance. Whey protein isolate also provides a fast acting source of protein that can be immediately used by the muscle tissue to help rebuild and recover.
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RECOMMENDED PRODUCT Whey Protein Isolate (Chocolate/Vanilla, 30 Servings)
Pounding your feet on the pavement for over 50 miles per week, can take a toll on your knees and joints, causing inflammation and soreness. It is important to take preventative action and ensure you have optimal knee and joint mobility.
Krill oil is the best supplement source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, and studies have proven that krill oil can reduce inflammation, improve joint mobility, decrease joint pain, and help in the recovery process.
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Krill oil is also a far superior source of omega-3 due to it’s enhanced bioavailability, and antioxidant profile.
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RECOMMENDED PRODUCT Krill Oil (Vanilla, 30 Servings)
Turmeric is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant (Curcuma longa). Sometimes referred to as Indian Saffron or the golden spice, Turmeric is part of the Ginger family and is a tall plant that grows in Southeast Asia and cultivated in India. The turmeric that you find in supplements is directly derived from the plant's roots. Through several studies, Turmeric been proven to provide countless health benefits from improving joint health and mobility, reducing exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness, thus enhancing recovery and performance.
RELATED ARTICLE The Health Benefits Of Turmeric
Recent studies have shown that Turmeric is just as, or even more effective than Ibuprofen to decrease exercise-induced pain and inflammation associated with injury. In a randomized, double-blind noninferiority trial, published in The Journal Of Medicinal Foods the safety and efficacy were compared in Turmeric vs. Ibuprofen. 367 patients with knee osteoarthritis with a pain score of 5 or higher were randomized to receive ibuprofen 1,200 mg per day or Curcumin Domestica extract at 1,500 mg per day for 4 weeks.
Outcomes measured were joint pain, joint stiffness, and functional scores. The results indicated that Turmeric and curcumin extracts were non-inferior to ibuprofen. Both groups showed significant improvement in pain, inflammation, and functional scores when compared to baseline. The study concluded that curcumin is just as effective as ibuprofen on knee osteoarthritis inflammation and pain. Moreover, the turmeric group showed lower adverse effects on gastrointestinal health than the ibuprofen group [R, R]. This study shows that turmeric is just as effective, if not more as ibuprofen with less adverse effects.
The Best Supplements For Endurance Runners: Takeaway
As an endurance runner, running demands more from your body. It pushes you to the upper limits of your mental, physical and even emotional capacity. If you want to run long distance, then you will need the right nutrients to help fuel your performance and get you there. It’s imperative that you supplement your nutrition program, to ensure you maximize your performance and recovery. Without them, you’ll fall short of your goals, and won’t be able to optimize your potential.
Looking for a supplement to help you maximize your running capacity and performance?
Your body needs carbohydrates for optimal performance and recovery during high-intensity and endurance training. But, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Swolverine's Clean Carbs is made with 100% real whole-superfoods from complex carbohydrates, including Sweet potatoes, Yams, Oats, and Blueberries to provide the long-lasting and sustained energy your body needs to fuel performance and optimize recovery. Delicious and rich you can add it to your smoothies, shakes, or mix with water, for a rich and tasty treat.
SWOLVERINE is an endurance athlete and active lifestyle brand. Made for the elite athlete, and the strong-willed our products were designed to fuel your athletic performance. We perform when you perform.
We believe that everyone can optimize not only their athletic performance but their human potential. The way we believe we can optimize performance is through transparency, clinically effective doses, and clinically proven ingredients with evidence-based outcomes. We provide the nutrients you need to power your active lifestyle.
Kim, Dong-Hee et al. “Effect of BCAA intake during endurance exercises on fatigue substances, muscle damage substances, and energy metabolism substances.” Journal of exercise nutrition & biochemistry vol. 17,4 (2013): 169-80. doi:10.5717/jenb.2013.17.4.169
Hoffman, J., Ratamess, N., Kang, J., Rashti, S., Kelly, N., Gonzalez, A., Stec, M., Anderson, S., Bailey, B., Yamamoto, L., Hom, L., Kupchak, B., Faigenbaum, A. and Maresh, C. (2018). Examination of the efficacy of acute L-alanyl-L-glutamine ingestion during hydration stress in endurance exercise.
Norton LE, Layman DK. Leucine regulates translation initiation of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle after exercise. J Nutr. 2006;136(2):533S-537S.
Kuptniratsaikul V, Dajpratham P, Taechaarpornkul W, et al. Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domesticaextracts compared with ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a multicenter study. Clin Interv Aging. 2014;9:451–458.
Perkins, Kimberly et al. “Efficacy of Curcuma for Treatment of Osteoarthritis”Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine vol. 22,1 (2016): 156-165.
Derave W, Ozdemir MS, Harris RC, et al. beta-Alanine supplementation augments muscle carnosine content and attenuates fatigue during repeated isokinetic contraction bouts in trained sprinters. J Appl Physiol. 2007;103(5):1736-43.