Supplements is one of the most popular questions I get asked about here at the House. Anyone who’s ever sat down with me, friend or client, knows I’m skeptical about the supplement industry. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry with poor regulation. In many instances… side-effects can be harmful to the body. However, there is a time and a place for supplementation, and as Athletes, we need to be thoughtful about what we ingest pre- and post-workout. Here are three supplements to consider:
Most people associate magnesium with improved sleep. Yet the element is also critical for building muscle and enhancing muscle recovery. Magnesium allows the body to produce more Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1), which is a major contributor to the growth and strength of muscles. From a recovery standpoint, magnesium loosens tight muscles and prevents cramping by preventing the buildup of lactic acid and reducing DOMs (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).
Pro Tip: Get results by shifting your focus from heavy consumption of electrolytes like potassium (i.e. the coconut water trend!) to more magnesium. Take a 200-250mg supplement once a day and load up on magnesium-rich foods such as spinach, swiss chard, pumpkin seeds, kefir, and almonds. Don’t exceed 300mg a day.
Branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) and protein, in general, are a huge focus for athletes. But what exactly are BCAAs? Let me break it down for you. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Nine of them are identified as “essential” because the human body can’t make them on its own. This means you have to get them from food. Three of those nine—leucine, isoleucine and valine—are BCAAs. While other amino acids are metabolized in the liver, these three are metabolized in skeletal muscle tissue. The upshot is that they play a role in muscle synthesis.
There are a few studies linking BCAA’s to increased muscle mass and another study that concluded there is no causal relationship. My take? BCAA’s can’t hurt, but they may not be as helpful as we think. If you choose to take BCAAs, continue to eat a diet rich in animal and plant proteins.
What are they, and why do we need them? Probiotics are good bacteria found in the gut that help you absorb the nutrients from your diet. They also fight infection, keeping your immune system strong. If you’re training hard and don’t have enough probiotics in your diet, it’s likely you’re not absorbing all of the nutrients from the nutrient-dense food you’re consuming. You can get probiotics from fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, and miso, but supplementation is beneficial as well. When choosing your probiotic, look for a brand that has a G.M.P. label (Good Manufacturing Practices) and at least 5 billion CFUs (colony forming units).
Diet can be the key to achieving your goals on and off the Turf – whether they be athletic performance, weight loss or daily work performance. By adding these supplements to your diet, you have the potential to enhance your athletic performance and muscle recovery without some of the more counterproductive side effects you need to avoid.
Jen Silverman, Tone House in-House nutrition expert
Looking for a nutrition game plan tailored specifically to you? Sign up for a consultation at the House with me. Visit tonehouse.com/passes to purchase a nutrition consultation session.