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Train harder and eat cleaner - runners are familiar with this mantra. Anyone who’s serious about running strives to eat more wholesome, healthier food. However, truth be told, keeping track of what goes into our bodies is no easy business, especially when our daily stack of to-do lists is as thick as a Game of Thrones novel. This is when supplements can be the next best thing. Here are what running pros recommend taking:
Hate to start with some not-so-great news, but apparently, many runners are iron deficient. The cause of the low iron count is still debatable, but it has been suggested that profuse sweating during intensive or long-distance runs may be the culprit. Female runners are particularly prone to iron deficiency as well. On top of iron loss from sweating, females also lose iron during menstruation.
Low iron can be a blow for runners. As iron is essential to facilitate oxygen transfer to muscles, the lack of iron can make us beg for a new set of limbs even after what could be considered a short, breezy run. On top of frequent extreme fatigue and lagging performance, iron deficiency can also make us more prone to catching a cold. So, consider topping up the iron, even if our count is only slightly below normal.
All that hours spent on hitting the track and lifting weights can put lots of stress on our tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Suffering from injured joints and pulled muscles then only become a matter of time. Instead of investing in a pair of crutches, we may be better off relying on glucosamine to pull us through.
Glucosamine can help to ease joint pain and repair injured joints. It also promotes the growth of cartilage. Unlike other key nutrients that are easily found in our daily diet, glucosamine hides in the most unlikely places, think crab shell and hog’s head. Suffice to say that for many of us less adventurous foodies; supplements are our best bet.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Known as the post-all-you-can-eat seafood buffet morning-after pill to keep the cholesterol at bay. Nevertheless, among avid runners, omega-3 is known more as nature’s painkiller. It has an anti-inflammatory property that can help us recover faster – and with less pain too – from a tissue injury.
As if omega-3 hasn’t performed enough wizardry for Muggles like us, research indicates that omega-3 can also prevent joint pain and exercise-induced asthma. Three weeks of fish oil supplements have been found to improve lung function after exercise by 64%. So, it’s time to make some room for omega-3, if you haven’t already.
Most of us are probably sick of hearing about protein by now. No nutrient has received as much (or too much) buzz than protein in the athletic world. But as much as we want to side-eye all the air time given to protein, we can’t deny its importance for runners.
While most people have no problems hitting the recommended intake, runners need to go above and beyond. We need the extra protein to replace the muscles broken down when we run and to help build lean tissues. A lack of protein makes us more susceptible to injury, in addition to a longer recovery time. While it is true that protein isn’t hard to get from food alone, runners prefer whey protein because it’s more quickly absorbed and lower in calories.
Yes, the mother of all nutrients for body builders and yes, runners too can benefit from creatine. How exactly?
This supplement aids in muscle recovery and growth by giving the cells in our bodies an energy boost. When taken regularly by those who perform high-intensity cardiovascular activities like running, creatine can reduce muscle soreness after exercise and increase strength during endurance training.
However, it cannot be consumed willy-nilly for best results. Creatine demands extra attention as we need to follow the recommended dosage and time of consumption.
“The best source of vital nutrients is still nature, not some guys in lab coats and goggles.”
The best source of vital nutrients is still nature, not some guys in lab coats and goggles. But, if we really must, it’s best to check with the doctors and do some homework before we take supplements to ensure their quality.
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