Taking up running or already well on your way to completing your next marathon? While a healthy, balanced diet and safe, proper training are the basic building blocks for fitness success, sometimes the body needs a helping hand to keep the necessary nutrients in check and performance at its best.
In order to create the energy, stamina and mental focus that a runner needs, a consistent and adequate supply of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients is often required - and a daily dose of supplements can be the key ingredient that allows runners to reach new heights and smash their personal bests. So, to help discover which pills to pop, we reached out to Shabir Daya , Natural Health Specialist and Co-Founder of Victoria Health .
“One of the most inexpensive forms of exercise that I can think of, and one that helps the whole body including the heart, is running,” says Shabir. “In order to achieve your full potential, I believe that it is imperative to use supplements. However, many runners think of sports supplements as not necessary and something for bodybuilders or people who are lifting weights - but this is far from the truth.
“Ask a group of runners which supplements they take, if any, and you will get a variety of results and opinions as to which are the best,” says Shabir. “What is clear though is that supplementation is vital to maintain not just your potential but also to help protect your body.”
Here are Shabir’s top 5 supplement recommendations to keep your body pumped, primed and ready to run.
1. Protein power
“Whey protein is a rich source of amino acids, which is required by muscles for recovery and growth,” says Shabir. “As a runner, you are actually breaking down some of the muscle tissue and this needs to be repaired. Food sources of protein are important, such as those derived from meat and eggs - however, the advantage of whey protein over other sources is that it is absorbed very quickly by the body, which makes it an excellent choice for post run recovery as it helps to prevent aches and pains the following day. Not to mention numerous studies have also validated that whey protein builds lean muscle mass and does not contribute to weight gain.”
To help pack in the post workout protein Shabir recommends Lamberts Performance Whey Protein, £29.95, buy online .
2. Fatty fish oils
“Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil help to reduce inflammation due to their anti-inflammatory properties. This helps to reduce muscle soreness and enhances joint flexibility. Since the body cannot manufacture these vital essential fats itself, these must be derived from food such as oily fish, seeds and nuts,” says Shabir.
“However, most people simply do not eat enough oily fish which means that large numbers of the adult population are deficient in omega 3’s as a result. Therefore I always recommend supplements that include quality fish oil in addition to your dietary intake - or better yet, krill oil. Krill Oil is the most utilisable source of omega 3 essential fats and, unlike fish oils, which are prone to toxicity issues, krill oil is free from pollutants.”
To help bump up your daily dosage of essential fatty acids Shabir recommends Power of Krill Capsules, £27, buy online .
3. Mega multivitamins
“In my opinion, a multivitamin supplement is absolutely imperative, no matter how healthy you are or even how well you eat,” insists Shabir. “Our bodies require vitamins and minerals constantly to run efficiently and effectively. Most of these vitamins can be obtained from a well balanced healthy diet - however, due to poor soil quality and modern farming practices, many of the nutrients are not present in the soil, and hence not in the foods.
“Whether you’re a sprinter or a regular distance runner, the body loses minerals through sweat and the needs for nutrients is greatly increased. A body deficient in nutrients will be susceptible to infection and less likely to perform optimally. Additionally, it is absolutely imperative that the multivitamin you choose has high levels of antioxidants. This is because when you run, the increase in metabolism results in greater amount of free radicals. An analogy of this would be a car - when it burns fuel, damaging exhaust fumes are released. Likewise when you run, these free radicals are known to damage our body’s organs and tissues.”
Shabir recommends using Alive Once Daily Multivitamin Ultra Potency , £28, which contains vitamins and minerals derived from whole foods for better absorption as well as phytonutrients with super high antioxidant properties.
4. Joint Protection
“Running is a high impact exercise which can put a burden on your knees,” says Shabir. “It is absolutely vital that you warm up prior to starting your run as this will help prepare your heart, muscles and joints for the activity ahead. You certainly don’t want to get ‘ runner’s knee ’ which can break your goals - the pain is agonising and intensifies when running downhill.
“Aside from warming up, wearing the right running shoes and allowing full recovery, I believe that a good joint supplement such as Superior Joints is also a must. This supplement contains Natural Eggshell Membrane, which has been clinically evaluated and shown to be a potent anti-inflammatory ( which is key for aiding recovery). Additionally, Natural Eggshell Membrane contains two rare amino acids known for their long term benefits in joint repair. If that wasn’t enough, Superior Joints also contains hyaluronic acid, a key nutrient found in the cartilage matrix for cushioning the joints tissues.”
For giving your bones and joints some much needed super strength Shabir recommends taking Foodscience Of Vermont Superior Joints, £30, buy online .
Finally, Shabir encourages drinking plenty of water as the final super supplement for runners. “Always ensure the body is ultra-hydrated,” he says. Typically most health experts recommend drinking around 8 glasses or 2 litres of water each day, which can help promote cardiovascular health, keep your body cool and help your muscles and joints work better.