Supplement stores are a maze of potions and powders that promise better muscle building, recovery, and stamina. However, most of these nutrients can also be found in food. So grab your shopping basket and get ready to amp up your workout with these specific nutrients that will help you become leaner and stronger.
It’s hard to keep up with your workout routine if you’re feeling super sore. To speed up recovery, reach for omega-3 fatty acids. Research has shown that a daily dose of 3g of omega-3s from fish oil helps to reduce inflammation, soreness and pain caused by intense exercise (also known as delayed onset muscle soreness). You can get your recommended daily requirement of omega-3 fats by eating fish (salmon, sardines, tuna) 3-4 times a week. Plant-based sources, such as chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts also ample amounts. Can’t eat fish? Consider a fish oil supplement.
Protein and carbs are key pre and post-workout ingredients to help you recover and increase muscle mass. However, one specific amino acid, leucine, will give you more bang for your protein buck. Leucine, which is found in whey protein, milk, cheese, and beef, plays a critical role in stimulating protein synthesis (building). A post-workout dose of 2 – 3 grams of leucine will maximally stimulate muscle building and you can get this dose from 25g of whey protein isolate, 3 eggs, or 70g of cheese.
It should come as no surprise that water is the best choice to stay hydrated. So many chemical reactions in your body require water, which is why even mild dehydration (as little as 2%) can lead to decreased workout performance, fatigue, and headaches. However, there are times when water just won’t cut it. If you’re exercising for greater than 90 minutes (e.g. half or full marathon), or sports game on an extremely hot day, a sports drink can be useful. This will provide your body with carbohydrates for energy and electrolytes to replace those lost through sweat.
There’s much a buzz about concentrated beetroot juice shots, which contain high levels of nitrate. When consumed these nitrates are converted to nitric oxide, and used to open up blood vessels allowing more oxygen to be delivered to working muscles. There is also some research that nitrates can help reduce the energy cost of exercise and aid muscle contraction. The end result is that you can work harder for longer, giving you the competitive edge.
Ever experienced night time leg spasms after a tough lower body workout? Magnesium is one of the key minerals needed for muscle contraction, and a deficiency could lead to cramping. You’re more at risk if you’ve been doing lots of long distance running, intense daily training, or are following a low-kilojoule diet. The recommended intake is approximately 350 – 400mg of magnesium per day, which you can get a decent dose from foods like nuts and seeds, bananas, avocado, green leafy vegetables and dark chocolate.