I’ve spent a lot of time in the past couple of months doing research on the web, through interviews and even by using myself as a test subject to try and figure it all out. The information I’ve compiled here should help you get a better understanding of what you may need to supplement with, what you are taking that you might not need to be spending money on, the quality of your supplements in your programme, how you can improve your regimen, correct dosing and timing of your athletic goals.
Step one is to make sure that the supplements you are purchasing are of the highest quality, environmentally friendly, and bioavailable (absorbed by your body). You can check your labels or the company website for more information.
There are literally thousands of supplements out there for consumption and you could give a sound argument for the inclusion of many of them into your regimen. Unfortunately, this is not cost-effective or conducive to a happy life. Who wants to spend the entire day popping pills to ensure the proper timing for absorption and use by the body? I have narrowed down the list for you here to the top 7 supplements for athletes, otherwise known as your primary supplements. Start with these and only these to see how you feel. If something is still missing, then consider adding supplements particular to your situation or need.
THE TOP 7
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are probably one of the most commonly used supplements on the market today, and for good reason. When high quality fish oil is taken in large enough amounts, it provides the biggest bang for the buck as far as supplements are concerned. Most people know about the health benefits associated with omega-3 fatty acids: improved cardiovascular health and function, improved lipid profiles (lower triglycerides), improved brain function and mental acuity, and powerful anti-inflammatory properties without harmful side effects (such as those experienced with over the counter products). But what people don’t know is that every fish oil isn’t made the same. Depending on the size, type, or natural habitat of fish used, and how it was processed, can determine the quality (and levels of toxins present).
It is important to use a reputable product to avoid the risk of toxic mercury levels. Look for brands that use small, cold-water (near the polar ice cap so it is more pure) fish like krill, anchovies or sardines vs. larger fish like tuna or those harvested in warmer waters. Impurities are stated on the label – look for those measured in parts per BILLION, not parts per million. Athletes and those with body composition goals should start with 3 000 mg of fish oil per day spread out over 2 to 3 servings (it only lasts in the body for about eight hours) and then work toward taking up to 6 000 mg per day. There are vegetarian options of omega-3 fatty acids which are not derived from animal or fish sources.