As a professional basketball player, I am no stranger to the needs of a runner. Running is obviously one of the main components of basketball, and my career has helped me understand which supplements are most important for improving running performance and recovery from intense training.
I have experimented with over 100 different supplements in my life, and I believe that I have a great understanding of the best supplements for runners. Keep reading below to find out what I believe are the most important supplements for running!
The Best Runners Supplements (2020)
Here are the results of my research. I hope you find them beneficial!
Protein is the building block of any fitness routine. Without protein, the body’s cellular function diminishes. Proteins are responsible for regulating our tissues and organs, and they supply nutrients that promote growth in the muscles. Your body uses protein to help muscles recover from strenuous workouts and training sessions.
They also increase stamina, which can help you finish long, or strenuous workouts.
Protein can come from meat, nuts, various plants, fish and dairy products. Sometimes our diet doesn’t allow us to consume enough protein, so protein shakes fill the void.
The most commonly used protein powder is whey protein powder. It is the most commonly used type of protein powder because it is cheap and effective.
According to a study published in Sport Sciences for Health,
“Whey protein consumption likely plays an important role in the increase of Amino Acids (AA) concentrations in the blood, even during exercise, and was associated with a decrease in exercise-related muscle damage and inflammation.”
Along with that, whey protein can also improve running performance. According to a study published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences,
“In the current study, we demonstrated that whey protein can also be used for aerobic exercise for better physiological adaptation, in addition to resistance training. Whey protein could be also a potential nutrient supplement with a variety of benefits for amateur runners.”
There are various types of whey protein on the market and everybody seems to have their favorite one or they buy what looks good or is on sale.
Are all whey protein products beneficial for me?
Does the whey protein I use provide both nutritional and biological (physiological) value?
How can you tell?
Self-Test: An excellent test to see if the whey protein you are using is a proper one is by measuring the number of times you get sick a year. If you are constantly under the weather and are feeling wore out after long runs and workouts, then you may want to look for another protein powder. The whey protein you are using may be providing nutritional benefit but it is obvious it is not providing a biological benefit.
Look for a whey protein that is undenatured (unmodified by heat) and that contains the amino acid cysteine.
Why? This type of whey protein serves as a “double-edged sword.” It not only increases the level of glutathione in your body (which is a key component to maintaining a strong immune system), but it also decreases the time it takes to recover after strenuous workouts.
Although whey protein is the most common option for protein powder, it is not necessarily the best option for everyone.
According to the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine,
“Animal proteins is an important source of protein, however potential health concerns do exist from a diet of protein consumed from primarily animal sources. With a proper combination of sources, vegetable proteins may provide similar benefits as protein from animal sources.”
If you are lactose intolerant or a vegan, hemp protein powder is an excellent replacement for whey protein. Hemp contains all the essential amino acids and is a great alternative to whey. A great example is Your Super Skinny Protein.
As we age, collagen, the most important protein in our bodies, stops being produced. Collagen is a beneficial supplement to add to your daily regimen. It can improve joint pain and mobility, boost metabolism, and improve sleep.
Collagen also produces energy for your muscles during contraction. Combining collagen with a whey protein can help build muscle mass, and it is also great for your skin.
According to a study published in Current Medical Research and Opinion,
“The results of this study have implications for the use of collagen hydrolysate to support joint health and possibly reduce the risk of joint deterioration in a high-risk group. Despite the study’s size and limitations, the results suggest that athletes consuming collagen hydrolysate can reduce parameters (such as pain) that have a negative impact on athletic performance.”
I have used multiple collagen supplements, as well as I focus on eating as much bone broth soups throughout the year for as much collagen as possible.
If you would like to try a collagen supplement, my suggestion is:
Vitamin and Minerals – A Multivitamin Supplement
Another important supplement for running is definitely a vitamin and mineral supplement. Multivitamin supplements provide the nutrients that may be missing from our diet. The right multivitamin can provide important trace elements (micronutrients) that most foods do not provide.
Over time, the addition of a multivitamin supplement can help reduce the breakdown of your body from extensive exercise. According to a study published in Human Nutrition, Clinical Nutrition,
“During the study the running performance of unsupplemented children deteriorated, and markedly so in a subgroup with initially poor nutrient status. The vitamin and iron supplement prevented this deterioration so as to produce a significant reduction in the energy cost of treadmill running in the more malnourished subgroup, relative to the changes seen in children receiving no supplement.”
One important trace element is chlorella. Research has shown that chlorella is the most essential trace element because it is reputed to contain all the trace elements we need.
Including a vitamin and mineral supplement which contain chlorella in your diet would be very beneficial.
There are some other important vitamin and mineral supplements to look for as well, including:
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin E
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Co-Enzyme Q10
Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family, used for cooking and herbal remedies. The root of the turmeric plant contains a chemical, called curcumin. It can be consumed raw, or in powder form.
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it an excellent supplement for anyone who performs physically demanding workouts.
Consuming turmeric can reduce muscle soreness, and turmeric is also known to boost your mood, helping you stay motivated to workout. Furthermore, many people are using turmeric for weight loss as well.
As stated in a study that was published in Nutrition Today,
“Curcuma longa L, has been used for centuries in food preparation and in traditional medicines to treat numerous diseases and conditions. The primary biologically active constituent of turmeric is the polyphenol, curcumin, an orange-yellow powder that has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which, in part, may contribute to curcumin’s potential to prevent such conditions as cancer, Alzheimer disease, heart disease, and arthritis, to name a few.”
I use turmeric all year because I believe it helps alleviate my asthma, reduces inflammation in my joints and muscles, and makes me feel healthier on a day to day basis. I normally take my turmeric supplements after lunch and about an hour before sleep, and I always feel a noticeable difference if I stop taking them for even a week!
Although I have found many effective turmeric supplements, the turmeric supplement I suggest you try is:
At times a forgotten supplement, calcium supplements are beneficial for many reasons.
Believe it or not, calcium is the most important supplement that you can take. Why?
Think about the beating your skeletal system takes after running long distance races. There is nothing more important in the fight against osteoporosis than taking calcium!
It is also very important for regulating:
- Muscle Contractions
- Nerve Transmission
- Hormone Activity
Don’t forget about calcium!
Here is a great calcium supplement you can try:
Creatine monohydrate is generally perceived as a nutritional supplement for bodybuilders, strength athletes, and people who lift weights in the gym. This is obviously due to the proven results creatine monohydrate can have in terms of strength, power, and muscle gains for those who engage in these pursuits.
There are many forms of creatine. However, creatine monohydrate is the most well-researched form and safest.
Due to the reasons listed above, creatine monohydrate is often beneficial for sprinters as well. However, creatine monohydrate might also benefit mid to long distance runners as most runners do some strength and power training as well as as interval training.
Creatine monohydrate allows your body to store additional water as well as produce cellular energy more efficiently. Long-distance runners don’t need to use creatine monohydrate to add muscle mass, but it can still help them run longer and faster.
If you’d like to buy creatine monohydrate, I suggest you try:
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the human body. Amino acids form after the breakdown of protein, and they supply our organs with vitamins and nutrients. Glutamine boosts the immune system, and with it, has the potential to fight infection.
This works great if you’ve experienced a workout-related injury and need to heal fast. Glutamine can also speed up the muscle recovery time, which improves muscle growth.
According to a study published in the Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness,
“As a therapeutic intervention, glutamine supplementation was effective in attenuating strength loss and muscle soreness following eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage.”
I have used glutamine as a separate supplement, and I have also used many amino acid products which contain glutamine. In my opinion, glutamine works best when it is combined in a BCAA or amino acid supplement. However, if I am using a separate glutamine supplement, I do notice a difference when I take ~5 grams of glutamine before training and ~5 grams of glutamine after training.
In my opinion, the best pure glutamine supplement is:
Fish Oil and Omega 3 Fatty Acids
If you want a boost to your brain and muscles, you need to add fish oil to your list of most essential supplements. This powerful supplement can help speed muscle recovery with its anti-inflammatory functions, and it can also help reduce the risk of muscle overuse injuries related to exercise.
Fish Oil decreases muscle fatigue helping you work harder and longer.
Fish oil or Omega 3 Fatty Acid supplements also boost fat burning and cognitive function.
As stated in a study published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
“FO supplements and regular exercise both reduce body fat and improve cardiovascular and metabolic health. Increasing intake of n−3 FAs could be a useful adjunct to exercise programs aimed at improving body composition and decreasing cardiovascular disease risk.”
There are many fish oil supplements, but I strongly suggest you find a product which states it does not contain “fishy burps.” Most fish oil supplements have the amounts of essential fatty acids you want, but some are higher quality and have less of this annoying side effect.
My favorite fish oil supplement is:
Another form of amino acids are the branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs for short. They help regulate protein metabolism, which is great for weightlifters. By taking these, your muscles suffer less injury, or soreness and grow easier. BCAAs also speed up muscle recovery, making any exercise easier on your body.
According to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition,
“results obtained showed that BCAA supplementation prior to squat exercise decreased DOMS and muscle fatigue occurring for a few days after exercise. These findings suggest that BCAAs may be useful for muscle recovery following exercise.”
You can take your BCAA supplement before, during, or after your training sessions, or you can simply drink your BCAAs throughout the day when you want.
There are a few quality BCAA supplements that I regularly use, but my favorite BCAA product of all-time is Scivation Xtend:
Concluding Thoughts – Supplements All Runners Should Use!
Additionally, it is also important to maintain a balanced diet along with proper supplementation. Any neglect in your diet can prove disastrous to your training regime.
For more information on supplements for runners and other health and fitness advice, Jamie Is Running is a great resource.
By taking these supplements on a daily basis, it will not only provide the proper maintenance for your body but it will help you increase your performance so you can reach your goals!