There are a wide variety of supplements that have been shown to be beneficial for runners, including magnesium, tart cherry juice, turmeric, caffeine, creatine, sodium bicarbonate, beta-alanine, and nitrates (from beets). Here’s what science has to say about how these supplements affect running:
Magnesium: Research suggests that magnesium supplements may help with sleep and relaxation, both of which are important after tough training days . Additionally, magnesium is lost through sweat, so replacing it is essential for hydration .
Tart cherry juice: Rich in polyphenols and antioxidants, research suggests that drinking tart cherry juice before running may help improve performance and reduce muscle soreness .
Turmeric: This spice contains a compound called curcumin, which serves as a potent antioxidant. Small studies indicate that 150-1500mg turmeric/day may speed up post-exercise recovery and reduce muscle soreness . Moreover, other research suggests that taking 1000-1500mg of turmeric extract daily may reduce knee pain and improve functionality in people with osteoarthritis .
Caffeine: Ingesting caffeine before a run may result in improved performance, speed, power, and endurance capacity . Caffeine is a well-known central nervous system stimulant, and is naturally found in coffee, tea, and chocolate.
Creatine: Evidence suggests that supplementing with creatine may improve muscle recovery, glycogen replenishment, and potentially improve speed/output during a run .
Sodium bicarbonate: Otherwise known as baking soda, sodium bicarbonate might improve athletic performance in runners by buffering lactic acid production, a major factor of muscle fatigue .
Beta-alanine: Beta-alanine may help improve performance and reduce neuromuscular fatigue during a run, especially near maximum effort .
Nitrates: Beets are naturally rich in nitrates, a substance that increases nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels and increases oxygen uptake in the muscles, which may enhance running performance .
Gao, R., & Chilibeck, P. D. (2020). Effect of tart cherry concentrate on endurance exercise performance: A meta-analysis. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 39(7), 657–664. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2020.1713246
Yoon, W. Y., Lee, K., & Kim, J. (2020). Curcumin supplementation and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS): effects, mechanisms, and practical considerations. Physical activity and nutrition, 24(3), 39–43. https://doi.org/10.20463/pan.2020.0020
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Hadzic, M., Eckstein, M. L., & Schugardt, M. (2019). The Impact of Sodium Bicarbonate on Performance in Response to Exercise Duration in Athletes: A Systematic Review. Journal of sports science & medicine, 18(2), 271–281. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6544001/
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