There are a million types of different runners. Some run for recreation, others for social purposes, and then there are those people who run to test their athletic abilities. This guide about the best supplements for runners will mainly be helpful for the latter group. However, all runners (cyclists and hikers) can benefit from using some of the supplements listed below. If you have only been drinking water to regain strength after those long gruelling runs, you have been doing it all wrong. The right running supplements at the right time can help you reduce pain, improve recovery and even push your endurance level higher.
The supplements in this guide can be used in conjunction with other endurance sports too, like cycling or trail running, and some could help non-runners and even dieters, people who would like to lose weight fast or want to get rid of that pesky belly fat. To clarify, we aren't saying there is a magic pill to get better at running, and no running supplement will help you improve your half marathon PB without putting the work in. However, the right supplements can enhance your performance by optimising your bodily functions and making you a more efficient running machine.
Best supplements for runners to buy right now
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Bulk Powders' Complete Recovery powder has been designed specifically for recovery – in case the name wasn't a giveaway already. A 100-gram serving contains around 50% carbs and a generous 30 grams of protein. The sources of carbohydrates in the Complete Recovery powder come from Maltodextrin and Waxy Maize Starch, both of which are fast-dissolving carbs to help the digestion of those muscle-repairing proteins quicker.
The Bulk Powders Complete Recovery contains amino acids like L Glutamine and Leucine, tart cherry powder – a popular recovery additive – and electrolyte powder. There are even some vitamins in the mix for good measure. You might not expect this, but Bulk Powders has a range of other supplements for runners, such as the Complete Energy Gels and Complete Electrolyte Tablets too.
Once you start taking Xendurance tablets for a few days (maybe a week), you can't help but notice the lack of soreness in the legs as you do your daily 10K. It is subtle but still noticeable: you will feel less tired and capable of doing the same distance with less effort.
Based on user reviews and our experience, tablets work in mysterious ways. You could say it's just a placebo, but does it matter if you can actually feel the difference? To clarify, we don't think it is just the placebo effect, but at the same time, it isn't easy to put my finger on the exact thing that works with Xendurance. As long as it does, we don't mind.
One of the main active ingredients in pre-workout powders is caffeine, and it is the case here too, but the Ei8ht Energy differs from other run-of-the-mill solutions in a way that it enhances your blood's oxygen-carrying capacity as well as waking your body up, something every runner and cyclist yearns for. The ability to supply the muscles with more oxygen means you can run harder for longer without feeling fatigued.
Ei8ht Energy doesn't contain any sugar or food colourants and relies only on natural ingredients to help boost performance. And it does it fast: once the sachet is mixed with water (and drank, of course), the effect is almost instantaneous. You will be itching to go and exercise within a matter of minutes and won't want to stop anytime soon, either.
Although there isn't a massive amount of caffeine in any one sachet (80 mg), we recommend not taking it later in the day, but for the same reason, it could work exceptionally well for early morning runs and even for races where you need that extra push. Better still, having a sachet covers 20% of B3 and B12 vitamin RDA as a bonus.
Science in Sport is probably one of the best-known supplement brands among cyclists and runners alike. The GO Energy gel contains a decent amount of carbs to keep you going and electrolytes to help reduce muscle fatigue during long runs.
To put a label on those ingredients: in each gel pouch, you get 22 grams of easily digestible carbohydrates, 118 mg sodium, 9.5mg potassium and 1.5mg magnesium. The SiS Go Energy Gel also comes in some pretty exciting flavours (for an energy gel, anyway): choose from Salted Caramel, Raspberry, Lemon & Mint. Good vibes only.
The Protein Works Thermopro is much like a cool uncle of regular caffeine tablets: it looks cooler, delivers more and is happy to play football with you in the garden anytime during the day. The list of active ingredients in the Thermopro tablets is rather long: there is plenty of caffeine in each tablet, green tea extract, chromium, L-carnitine and a range of vitamins to give your body and mind a boost. It works best when taken before a workout, although, given the relatively high amount of caffeine in the Thermopro, we recommend not taking it too late in the day so it won't disturb your sleep.
What is the best supplement for runners?
What is the best running supplement for your needs depends on your running goals. One product can be wholeheartedly recommended for all types of runners: protein powder. The best protein powders can aid recovery, and given their convenient powder form, protein shakes are easily digestible and can get into your bloodstream faster. Put protein powder and water/milk/milk substitute in a protein shake blender and have a shake within half an hour after you're done with your run for the best results.