alive logo

Fuelling Your Workout, Naturally

Ingredients to look for in sports nutrition products


To go the distance, make sure your body is properly fuelled. Sports nutrition products containing protein, carbs, caffeine, and taurine provide a performance boost.

Sports nutrition, including beverages, foods, and supplements, is a booming industry in Canada and worldwide. The latest trend in sports nutrition is supplements that help you prepare, perform, and recover from exercise. Here are some key ingredients and tips for deciding what product is right for you.


The American College of Sports Medicine, American Dietetic Association, and the Dietitians of Canada joint position statement contends that endurance and strength-trained athletes need between 50 and 100 percent more protein than the recommended dietary allowance (RDA). Try a high quality whey protein, which will help with building muscle mass and strength.

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)

Named for their branchlike structure, these three amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) improve motivation and performance by decreasing the mental perception of fatigue, improving reaction time, and reducing muscle fatigue soreness. Find BCAAs in high quality whey protein or in organic meat and dairy sources.


Carbohydrates are known to provide the energy necessary for peak endurance exercise performance. When choosing a product to give you a carb boost, opt for those containing ingredients lower on the glycemic index such as brown rice syrup, red beet, and agave.

Caffeine and taurine

Recent animal studies show that caffeine together with taurine can significantly improve endurance and lessen muscle fatigue by decreasing accumulated lactate. Taurine alone has been shown to significantly increase physical endurance and improve exercise time and distance. Kola nut with naturally occurring caffeine can give you the mental edge to improve reaction time, attention, and mental performance.

Coconut water

Proper hydration and electrolyte balance are essential. Coconut water rounds out the electrolyte profile better than just adding sodium or potassium alone. Other electrolytes to look for are chloride, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus.

Bonus ingredients

To go the distance, there are scientifically proven herbs, vitamins, and minerals to help. These include creatine for strength, power, and performance; rhodiola for endurance and decreasing inflammation and muscle damage; magnesium for muscle support; and apple peel for a boost in antioxidants.

Finally, read the label. Make sure colour comes from ingredients such as organic beet, not artificial colours. Also, ensure there are no artificial flavours, sweeteners, or preservatives—these things will only slow you down.

This is a lot of compact information, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Companies are making products containing all the ingredients you need to fuel your next performance—just ask the staff at your local natural health store!



Got 15 Minutes?

Got 15 Minutes?

Get active this fall!

Shawn RadcliffeShawn Radcliffe