If you're eating right, you don't need to add any workout supplements to your diet. But, as a woman who works out regularly, you may also be following a low-calorie diet, and may benefit from a little extra help. However, not all supplements are great choices. Consult with your doctor to help you determine what might work best for you.
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Taking a Multivitamin
If you're eating less than 1,600 calories a day, pregnant, or following a vegetarian or vegan diet and working out, you may benefit from taking a multivitamin. Look for multivitamins that provide 100 percent of the daily value for vitamins A, C, D, E, B-6, B-12, thiamin, riboflavin, folic acid, niacin, copper, zinc and iron, advises Arizona State University. Iron is especially important for women, and making sure you meet your needs may improve your workouts, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
Consuming mega-doses of nutrients may be harmful to your health, and these types of supplements should be avoided. For example, excessive intakes of vitamin B-6 may cause nerve damage, while too much beta-carotene has been linked to lung cancer. Don't take supplements that have more than 100 percent of the daily value.
Adequate hydration is necessary before, during and after exercise because it improves performance and recovery. If you're working out for more than an hour and sweating excessively, you may benefit drinking a sports drink for hydration. These types of drinks not only help replace fluid losses and promote electrolyte balance, but their carbohydrate content also replenishes energy stores. While sport drinks are a good way to rehydrate after a long, sweaty workout, they're also a source of calories, which you need to count towards your overall intake.
Your goal may not be to bulk up, but when you're working out you may want to strengthen and tone your muscles. Promote muscle building and replenish energy stores by consuming protein and carbohydrates after your workout. Protein powder is not necessary but may serve as a convenient way to get the protein you need to promote muscle after your workout. You can mix the powder in with your sports drink, or add it to a smoothie.
Performance Enhancing Supplements
When working out, you may be tempted to try supplements marketed to improve athletic performance or promote weight loss. The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that you avoid taking these types of supplements. The supplement industry is not well-regulated, says AND, and these types of workout supplements may not be effective or safe. Whether your goal is health, weight loss or strength, eating a healthy and balanced diet may be the best way to achieve those goals.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Nutrition and Athletic Performance
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Dietary Supplement Advice
- American College of Sports Medicine: Vitamin and Mineral Supplements and Exercise
- Arizona State University: Take a Daily Multivitamin
- Colorado State University Extension: Nutrition for the Athlete