Beneficial to anyone contemplating physical activity
Alan C. Logan, ND
Even if you're just getting into a regular exercise routine, sports supplements may help improve your performance and your recovery.
Top-level athletes—and anyone training in the hopes of becoming one—are generally aware of the benefits of exercise nutrition, also known as sports nutrition. For example, beet consumption may improve endurance; or branched chain amino acids, protein, and carbohydrates may help with recovery.
But what if this accumulated knowledge on the benefits of sports nutrition was also relevant to those who aren’t yet meeting the basic daily physical activity guidelines?
Working out should feel good
One of the major differences between regular exercisers and people who are sedentary is that exercise might feel different to both groups. Although physically active people feel good after a workout and experience more energy, those who are typically sedentary can feel fatigued and experience more aches and pains when beginning an exercise program.
It can be a vicious cycle, as those who feel physically exhausted after exercise may be less motivated to exercise again in the future. Thankfully, there are certain strategies, nutrients, and foods that can give the general population—and not just elite athletes—a helping hand when working out.
Sports nutrition ingredients and foods
Tart cherries, beets, apples, and lemon verbena are thought to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and might also help improve performance, facilitate recovery, or lower oxidative stress in the body.
Also, creatine, traditionally used to increase muscle strength, has been shown in a recent study to improve the outcome of antidepressant medications. Of course, always check with your health care practitioner before taking a new supplement to make sure it’s right for you, especially if you’re taking medications such as antidepressants.
Those struggling with exercise motivation may also be interested to know that eating a diet high in whole foods and vegetables helps boost mood and energy, according to recent research. For instance, in a recent study, a 10-day Mediterranean diet intervention increased vigour, alertness, and contentment in study participants.
Don’t forget to hydrate
Finally, hydration is key for both mood and exercise performance. Even the mildest dehydration affects cognitive functioning and enhances perceived exertion when it comes to exercise.
Pre-hydrating and hydrating during exercise with water, even coconut water, may improve the effects of exercise. Research has shown that coconut water has a great electrolyte profile and antioxidant properties that may aid in post-exercise recovery, thanks to the important vitamins and minerals it contains, such as vitamin C, copper, and zinc.
Gone are the days when sports nutrition solely aided the hard-core bodybuilder or elite athlete—today’s research-backed ingredients may even help some people get off the couch—and stay off it.