Supplements are not just for putting on muscle mass, here long-course pro Matty White shows us some products that are of benefit to endurance athletes.
As endurance athletes, we tend to avoid supplements. There is a perception that they’re gym junkie food designed to enhance ‘beach muscles’ such as the pectorals and the biceps. They’re for the athletes who want to looked ripped in their finisher’s photo – despite having to Photoshop out the 16:59 finish time. There’s a belief that they won’t actually help you get to Kona or post a PB in a distance event…wrong! There are myriad ‘legal’ supplements out there that can assist with your training load and recovery process. This is of particular benefit to those of us with limited time to devote to training and recovery and who need to maximise our sessions. I have used supplements most of my career and I swear by them. From the basics like protein and creatine to all manner of other products, there is a lot out there to experiment with. As a pro athlete in the testing pool, I have to be aware of the labelling and check everything before ingesting, but here in Australia the Therapeutic Goods Administration has pretty stringent regulations governing the sale of supplements. This means that the industry is reasonably well regulated.
Here’s an overview of some of the supplements that will benefit triathletes courtesy of my friends at Heavy-weight Supplements.
Branch chain amino acids
BCAAs refer to a group of essential amino acids. These include leucine, isoleucine and valine. Although amino acids are the building blocks of protein, your body can’t actually produce them. As such, they must be consumed as part of your daily diet. BCAAs have been shown to have the most benefit in recovery, either from muscle damage or fatigue. Best taken during a workout or as a post-workout drink. Add some electrolytes to assist with hydration. I have used these regularly throughout my career and have had really positive experiences with regard to recovery.
This is what you want if you’re a hard-working athlete. I use Dymatize ISO 100 as it has everything I need to effectively build and maintain muscle. Protiens are the building blocks that our bodies need – especially after intense exercise where muscle fibres are damaged. In order for muscle fibres to become stronger, they need to repair and the quicker they do that, the stronger they become. Products like Dymatize help speed up the recovery process significantly.
Supplementation of creatine has been shown to increase muscular performance. It may help athletes work out at a higher intensity during resistance exercise. This facilitates greater training stimulus and over time may lead to enhanced physiologic adaptations. In the body, creatine helps to regenerate ADP (spent energy) back into ATP for increased energy output when you’re engaged in short, intense bursts of energy. I have taken creatine a lot throughout my career racing at a pro level now. It’s helpful when you need short bursts of energy, such as at the start of a swim or to cover moves on the bike. It’s good to know you have a second or third gear when you need it.
At the end of the day, it’s important not to become a slave to the products. They are not a magic formula. They work when used in conjunction with solid and consistent exercise. I know people who consume mountains of products on a daily basis and hardly exercise. Their improvements are minimal at best.
Speak to your gym or supplement shop for advice on what will benefit you as an endurance athlete. And remember, too many potions, tablets and formulas can be a pain to take every day, not to mention they are not great for your teeth.
Image by Delly Carr.