As an endurance athlete, you may be on the constant lookout for that one supplement that's going to improve your performance. Most supplements have not been fully studied to assess claims or safety. The only supplements that might help improve endurance when used in addition to a balanced diet are sports drinks, caffeine and protein powders when added to your carbohydrates.
A 2010 article published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal says that carbohydrate-electrolyte solutions, also known as sports drinks, make a good supplement choice for endurance athletes. Adequate hydration is important before, during and after exercise. When you exercise for a long period of time, you lose not only water, but also electrolytes and energy stores. Sports drinks serve as a convenient way for endurance athletes to rehydrate, get the needed electrolytes and replenish energy stores to help maintain blood sugar levels.
Caffeine has been studied extensively for its effects on endurance and performance in athletes, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Consuming a small amount of caffeine, equivalent to the amount in 1 cup of coffee, prior to an event improves overall endurance, says ACSM.
However, caffeine is not for everyone, especially in excessive amounts. If getting too much caffeine in your diet affects your sleep or makes you feel jittery and nervous, it may not be a safe way for you to improve your athletic performance.
One of the most important meals for any athlete is the post-workout meal, which needs to include carbs and protein and be consumed within 30 minutes of finishing the workout. This meal helps restore energy and starts rebuilding your muscle. You might have a difficult time eating food after a long workout and may find protein powder mixed with your sports drink or a fruit smoothie more tolerable and convenient than eating a turkey sandwich.
Concerns With Energy-Boosting Aids
Visit any vitamin store, and you'll find shelves of supplements that promise to give you the energy boost you need for your workouts. However, these types of supplements should be used with caution, warns the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The laws used to regulate these ergogenic aids are not strictly enforced, says AND, and there are concerns about safety and efficacy of them. Talk to your doctor if considering an energy-boosting supplement before adding it to your routine.