Are you training for a triathlon and curious about which supplements you can take?
For triathletes, regular workout nutrition just isn’t enough.
Supplements are commonly thought of as bodybuilding aids, but what you may not know is they aren’t just for building muscle mass. They also help triathlon athletes with both their training and recovery.
However, it’s vital you know exactly how to take them and which ones to take.
Here’s everything you need to know about which endurance supplements for triathletes you should be looking for.
Branch Chain Amino Acids
Branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) have been called the best supplement you aren’t taking for good reason.
These amino acids are important endurance supplements for triathletes, comprised of a group of essential amino acids. They are the building blocks of protein but your body cannot produce them. The BCAAs include isoleucine, leucine, and valine.
Studies show that they help recovery, combating lactic acid buildup and signs of fatigue. Consequently, taking BCAAs means getting you back to form more quickly. This is exactly what you want on race day.
You can also take BCAAs during or post-workout to give you a boost and help your training regime.
Take Protein, But Not Too Much
Protein is an essential building block of our muscles and is one of the endurance supplements for triathletes that are commonly taken.
However, according to coaches who have helped athletes win Ironman World Championships you should take it easy on this supplement. The guideline according to the American College of Sports Medicine is 0.5 to 0.8 grams for every pound of bodyweight. Triathletes are not bodybuilders, so they don’t need to overdo their protein dosage.
The key word to remember here is balance. One of the rules of endurance nutrition is that macronutrients should be taken in their recommended amount. This is 15-20 percent of daily calories from protein, with the remainder being carbs and fat.
Finally, the best time to take protein would be after your workout to repair damaged muscle fibers.
Taking creatine has been proven to increase the performance of athletes’ muscles and is commonly used to make muscles bigger. However, it also boosts the intensity of a resistance workout.
Creatine works by regenerating spent energy and is especially effective for short intense bursts of activity.
Take it when you need that burst of energy at the start of the swimming part of a triathlon or to cover moves on your bike. Think of it as an extra “gear” you can tap into when you need a boost.
Do Caffeine When You Need It
Caffeine can also be thought of as a “booster” just like creatine. It helps with fatigue management, perceived exertion, and focus.
Like creatine, it requires a different approach in the way it’s taken for endurance sports versus bodybuilding training. There’s a few different ways you can take it.
Firstly, taking caffeine before activity can enhance your performance in short four to five-minute bursts. This could be useful at the start of the running part of a triathlon.
Or, you can take it during exercise with another supplement. Caffeine helps glucose be absorbed by the intestines quicker and helps consumed carbohydrates be burned at a quicker rate.
Finally, take it during the second or third leg of the event. You may be flagging at this point, and you can get back into gear with a small amount of caffeine.
Something to note is that the people who will get the most benefit from caffeine are those who don’t consume it regularly. If you are a heavy coffee drinker, cut it out a week before your triathlon in order to get the full effect.
Supplement bars can be a great alternative to liquid supplements. Here’s how to choose the right one for your triathlon.
Bars should be accessible (easy to unwrap and then chew), able to digest quickly, and balanced. This means carbs and protein.
How to Take Endurance Supplements for Triathletes
Start by creating your regimen early so that you have no surprises before the race. Don’t introduce new things too soon before as this can be detrimental to your training.
Take carbs and protein the morning of the race, hours before, not minutes.
Supplements and Training
If you’re a pro athlete that is tested regularly, be sure to take note of the ingredients of any of the endurance supplements for triathletes that you use.
Also, remember that at the end of the day supplements are not a magic formula. You still have to put in the work and be consistent with your exercise. But with the combination of the right supplements and training, you’ll be at the top of your game in no time.