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With numerous supplements on the market, it’s hard to know what ones work. Most online information targets strength athletes, with little information available on how endurance athletes can benefit. This blog will outline 5 useful supplements for runners and endurance athletes. There are supplements to optimise your recovery, improve your performance, and maintain your immunity. Whatever your chosen sport, goals or training regime there is a supplement to benefit you.

Protein powder for endurance athletes

whey protein isolate

Protein powder supplements are not just for strength athletes or body builders. 10-20% of endurance athletes don’t meet their daily protein requirements. Protein provides the amino acids that fuel recovery and repair. Not eating enough protein may result in increased injury risk.

Recreational endurance athletes require at least 1.65 g protein per kg of body per day. This intake optimises recovery and reduces chance of injury.

Protein is found in fresh foods including meat, dairy, legumes and lentils. However, endurance training requires a huge amount of time commitment. If you are juggling training around work and family, you may put nutrition on the back-burner. This is why a high quality pure protein supplement can benefit you.

Whey protein isolate (WPI) for endurance athletes

VPA WPI is a pure whey protein powder that providing 27g of protein per serve. It contains a high level of the amino acid leucine which triggers muscle repair. You can mix WPI with foods including oats and yoghurt. You can also mix it with water or with milk and drink it as a simple shake. Take WPI within an hour of finishing training or racing to optimise recovery.

Breakfast shake for endurance athletes

A recovery meal should combine both protein and carbohydrate. Protein is needed for muscle repair and carbohydrate replenishes glycogen stores. This is why VPA Breakfast Shake is an ideal recovery shake. It combines a full serve of whey protein with carbohydrates from oats. Breakfast shake is your complete low GI protein recovery shake.

Mass gainer for endurance athletes

Don’t let the name scare you, VPA Muscle Gainer won’t make you pack on the muscle! Mass gainer is idea for initiating recovery after a hard training session or a race. It combines a full serve of protein and simple carbohydrates, in a 240 calorie shake. Mass gainer is also useful if you find it hard to eat enough food to maintain weight. Use muscle gainer along side your usual food to increase your energy intake.

Beetroot powder for endurance athletes

Beetroot powder is one of the newest products to hit the supplement scene. It is so effective that it was quickly elevated by the AIS to a Group A supplement. Beetroot powder is a potent nitrate supplement. Nitrate supplements work by dilating and relaxing our blood vessels. This increases the rate at which nutrient and oxygen rich blood reach our muscles. As a result, the oxygen cost of exercise is decreased and our athletic performance improves.

Beetroot powder increases the time to exhaustion by as much as 15%. It also increases your speed over set distances, meaning it will help you decrease your race time. In other words, beetroot powder will help you get that PB.

To benefit from beetroot supplements you need at least 500mg of nitrate. To obtain this from beetroots or fresh juice would require the consumption of a LOT of beetroot. Powdered supplements are useful as they contain a full dose, with little preparation. One serve of VPA Beet-500 will conveniently provide 500mg of nitrate in one small serve.

beetroot powder

To reap the benefits of beetroot, take one serve of VPA Beet-500 around 45 minutes before you train or compete.

Caffeine supplements for endurance athletes

Kleos

Caffeine is another AIS Group A supplement, which benefits endurance performance. Taking caffeine decreases your rate of perceived effort. This means exercise ‘feels’ easier and as a result, you perform better. You can take caffeine before or during training or competition. Caffeine is taken as a pill, as coffee (everyone’s favourite!) or within a supplement like a gel or pre-workout. For the serious athlete, caffeine should be taken as a supplement rather than from coffee. This is because the caffeine content of coffee varies and you don’t know what dose of caffeine you will be taking.

VPA’s Pre-30 and Kleos pre-workouts contain caffeine. One serve of Kleos contains the caffeine equivalent of four espresso shots. Along with it’s other proven ingredients Kleos will provide the caffeine boost and performance improvement you are seeking. Take pre-workout about 20 minutes before you train or compete for optimal results.

Sports gels for endurance athletes

Sports gels are essential for serious endurance athletes and another Group A supplement. Gels are the most well known supplement for endurance athletes. Sports gels are a convenient and concentrated source of carbohydrate. Our guts quickly absorb the carbohydate in gels to use as energy. They improve the performance of endurance athletes in two ways. Firstly they provide fuel for muscles. During high intensity exercise, carbohydrate maintains speed prevents fatigue and exhaustion. Secondly, carbohydrate has an impact on our central nervous system and leads to the more rapid use of carbohydrate for energy.

performance gel

Sports gels should be taken during prolonged exercise like running, cycling or triathlon. For optimum performance you should consume one every 45 minutes to an hour.

VPA Australia has two sports gel products, one with, and one without magnesium. Each gel contains at least 25g of carbohydrate to fuel your muscles. You can buy Performance Gel here and Magnegel here.

L-glutamine for endurance athletes

Prolonged endurance exercise increases your likelihood of falling ill. Two things that may contribute to this are low energy availability and depletion of L-glutamine. Glutamine is essential to maintaining gut and immune system health. It is a “conditionally essential” amino acid. This means our need for it increases under certain circumstances, and we may need to supplement during these times. Blood glutamine levels are depleted following prolonged endurance exercise. Taking glutamine after training decreases the risk of falling ill with upper respiratory infections. The optimal dose is 5g, and you can find VPA L-glutamine here.

So there we have it, 5 supplements for runners and endurance athletes that will help improve your performance, recovery and health.

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Sally Mitchell (BSc, MHumNut) is a university qualified nutritionist and VPA staff member. Her favourite VPA product is coffee Breakfast Shake. She enjoys powerlifting and running, and does both poorly.

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