Nowadays, runners are seeking optimal ways to boost their performance and recovery. This article explores, in our opinion, some of the best supplements for running, focusing on enhancing endurance, meeting the specific needs of marathon runners, and improving overall running efficiency.
This guide covers key nutrients like calcium and magnesium, evaluates the benefits of BCAAs and creatine, and is grounded in scientific evidence. Whether you're an experienced marathoner or a casual jogger, our insights can help you make informed supplement choices.
Best supplements for runners: a shortlist
- GenF20 — overall best supplements for runners
- Utzy Naturals — best supplements for runners for recovery
- Bulletproof — best supplements for runners for endurance
- Transparent Labs — best supplements for runners with branched-chain amino acids
- Myprotein — best supplements for runners for energy
How did we rank the best supplements for running?
To rank the best supplements for running, we focused on several key criteria. This approach ensures a balanced and comprehensive evaluation of the supplements.
|High-quality sourcing and production
|Credibility in the market
|Backed by science
|Supported by research and studies
- Ingredient quality. For running endurance supplements, the components and final products must be of high quality to potentially aid in performance and recovery. This is usually represented by manufacturing certifications — like good manufacturing practice (GMP) — or third-party testing.
- Provider reputation. Great customer reviews of the provider for supplements for marathon runners or general running supplements indicate a higher level of trust and reliability.
- Price. The affordability and value for money of the supplements for running endurance are important. Look for options that offer a good balance between cost and potential benefits.
- Backed by science. The best endurance supplements for runners should have scientific backing, such as research indicating the supplement may help in enhancing running performance or recovery.
Top running supplements: an overview
In this section, we aim to evaluate five products tailored to different aspects of running. This comprehensive comparison is based on ingredient quality, provider reputation, price, and scientific backing. We aim to guide runners in choosing the best supplements that meet their specific endurance and performance needs.
1. GenF20 Icelandic Red Algae Calcium — overall best supplements for runners
The GenF20 Icelandic Red Algae Calcium supplement, targeted at runners, combines vitamin D3, calcium, magnesium, and an organic blend of various fruits and vegetables like strawberries, blueberries, and kale. Its formula claims to foster bone-building and joint-strengthening, which can be crucial for runners looking for supplements to enhance their performance and endurance.
Though specific to running endurance, this supplement could be considered among the supplements for marathon runners or those seeking supplements for running due to its potential to improve bone metabolism. Furthermore, its potential to ease swelling, reduce inflammation, and relieve pain might benefit runners prone to joint discomfort.
However, the absence of GMP certification, and the unavailability of customer reviews online make it challenging to fully assess its efficacy and safety. On the other hand, the 67-day money-back guarantee offers some level of reassurance for those wanting to try it.
30-day supply costs $64.50 ($2.15 per serving).
2. Utzy Naturals Ubiquinol® — best supplements for runners for recovery
Utzy Naturals Ubiquinol® stands out as a great supplement for runners, particularly for those interested in supplements for marathon runners or general supplements for running. Containing Ubiquinol® (CoQ-10) along with a mix of other ingredients like D-limonene oil and alpha lipoic acid, it claims to offer maximum bioavailability and aids in converting ubiquinone into ubiquinol.
Ubiquinol is known for its role in cellular energy production and could potentially support increased energy levels and endurance, vital for long-distance running. Additionally, its antioxidant properties might aid in reducing oxidative stress caused by intense physical activity, thereby promoting recovery and possibly reducing muscle soreness.
While the manufacturer claims extensive in-house quality testing, limited reviews, and its non-vegetarian/vegan formulation are factors to consider.
30-day supply costs $39.95 ($1.33 per serving).
3. Bulletproof Magnesium — best supplements for runners for endurance
Bulletproof Magnesium, formulated as magnesium citrate, presents itself as a suitable option for runners exploring supplements to enhance their running performance and endurance. With each serving providing 340 mg of magnesium, it is positioned as a highly absorbable form of this essential mineral. Magnesium plays a pivotal role in various bodily functions, which could be particularly beneficial in endurance supplements for runners.
For those engaged in rigorous training, like marathon runners, this supplement may offer nervous system support, bone and muscle support, and stress reduction. These benefits are crucial for athletes whose bodies undergo constant physical and mental stress. The presence of excellent and numerous customer reviews adds to its credibility.
However, the of GMP certification is a slight drawback. Additionally, the requirement of taking three capsules per serving might not be convenient for all users.
30-day supply costs $16.99 ($0.57 per serving).
4. Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine — best supplements for runners with branched-chain amino acids
Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine is a supplement designed with the needs of runners in mind, particularly those seeking endurance supplements for runners or supplements for marathon runners. It combines essential branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) — L-leucine, L-isoleucine, and L-valine — with L-glutamine and coconut water powder. These ingredients are thought to support immune function, reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and fatigue, and promote post-workout muscle growth.
The presence of BCAAs may help in improving protein synthesis and reducing muscle breakdown, which is essential for runners who engage in strenuous exercise. L-glutamine's role in protein synthesis and its potential to inhibit protein breakdown can be beneficial for muscle recovery. Additionally, the coconut water powder, rich in electrolytes, may help prevent dehydration, a key aspect for those looking for supplements for running endurance.
The product's third-party testing and numerous positive reviews add to its credibility. With four different flavors, it offers variety for personal preference.
30-day supply costs $39.99 ($1.33 per serving).
5. Myprotein Creatine — best supplements for runners for energy
Myprotein Creatine, with its sole ingredient of creatine monohydrate, positions itself as a beneficial supplement for runners, particularly those focusing on supplements for running endurance or supplements for marathon runners. Creatine is well-known for its potential to increase the body's ability to produce energy quickly, which can be particularly advantageous for endurance sports like running.
The product is touted for its ability to help enhance physical performance and power, putting it up for consideration by runners looking to improve their training outcomes. Its ease of absorption and suitability for various dietary needs (dairy-free, vegan, and gluten-free) add to its appeal. The overwhelmingly positive customer reviews further bolster its reputation among users.
However, the absence of GMP certification might be a concern for some potential users seeking assurances about product quality and manufacturing standards.
45-day supply costs $29.99 ($0.67 per serving).
Comparing the best supplements for running
|Price per bottle
|Price per serving
|Number of servings
|Number of active ingredients
Why is supplementation important for running?
There are several pros and cons of running, and the sport itself places unique nutritional demands on the body, especially at competitive levels. Supplements play a role in filling nutrition gaps that diets alone might not cover, thereby supporting and enhancing running performance.
For instance, endurance runners often require higher amounts of specific nutrients like iron for oxygen transport and magnesium for muscle function, which can be efficiently replenished through supplementation. Studies have shown that BCAA supplements may help reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and accelerate recovery in runners. Similarly, vitamin D and calcium supplements are important for bone health, particularly in long-distance runners who are at a higher risk of stress fractures.
Speed boosters: do they work?
Speed-boosting supplements like caffeine, beta-alanine, and creatine are popular among runners. Caffeine is well-documented for its ability to enhance endurance and reduce perceived effort. Beta-alanine aids in buffering muscle acidity during high-intensity efforts, potentially improving short-burst speed. Creatine, primarily known for strength gains, can also benefit runners in short, high-intensity runs by improving anaerobic capacity. While these supplements show promise, their effectiveness varies individually, and they work best when complemented with proper training and nutrition.
Recovery aid: when should you take them?
Optimal timing for recovery supplements is crucial for maximum benefit. Consuming protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes post-run can significantly aid in muscle repair and glycogen replenishment. Supplements like whey protein, BCAAs, and glutamine are effective when taken immediately after a run. Whey protein, typically 20–25 grams, helps muscle synthesis, while BCAAs and glutamine support muscle recovery and reduce soreness. Consistent post-run supplementation can enhance recovery, preparing your body effectively for the next training session.
Key nutrients for runners
Running demands specific nutritional support for optimal performance and recovery and to prevent you from feeling tired while running. Here are key nutrients essential for runners.
Iron is vital for runners as it aids in oxygen transport to muscles crucial for endurance. A deficiency can lead to anemia, reducing performance. Natural sources include red meat, leafy greens, and fortified cereals. The recommended daily intake for non-vegetarians is 18 mg for women and 8 mg for men. For those abstaining from meat, the recommended daily intake of iron is 32 mg for women and 14 mg for men. Studies emphasize iron's role in improving oxygen capacity and endurance in athletes, particularly in women who are at higher risk of deficiency.
Magnesium plays a key role in muscle function and energy production, making it essential for runners. It helps in muscle relaxation and overall muscle health. Good sources are nuts, seeds, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables. The recommended daily intake is about 400 mg for men and 310 mg for women. Research shows that magnesium can improve exercise performance and is crucial in electrolyte balance, which affects hydration and muscle function.
Calcium is crucial for runners for bone health and muscle function. Adequate calcium intake can prevent stress fractures, a common issue in long-distance runners. Dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods are excellent sources. The recommended daily intake is 1000 mg for adults. Experts suggest that calcium, along with vitamin D, is essential for bone density, particularly important for endurance runners who put repeated stress on their bones.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids may be crucial for runners for their anti-inflammatory properties, which aid in recovery and joint health. They're found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts. The recommended intake varies, but about 500 mg of EPA and DHA combined is suggested. This recommended intake is best achieved with 1–2 servings of fatty fish per week. Research supports omega-3's role in reducing exercise-induced muscle soreness and supporting heart health — vital for endurance athletes like runners.
How to incorporate supplements into your running routine?
Integrating supplements into your running routine can enhance performance and recovery when done correctly.
Understand your needs
Before adding any supplement, assess your specific needs based on your training intensity, duration, and dietary habits. Consulting a healthcare professional can provide insights into what your body might be lacking. For instance, endurance runners might need more iron and electrolytes, while sprinters could benefit from creatine. Tailoring supplements to your unique requirements ensures effectiveness and safety.
Timing is key
The timing of supplements can significantly impact their effectiveness. For instance, taking protein within 30 minutes post-run can optimize muscle recovery. Similarly, consuming caffeine about an hour before running can enhance endurance. Be mindful of the timing recommendations for each supplement to maximize their benefits and avoid potential side effects like gastrointestinal discomfort.
Be aware of interactions
Some supplements can interact with medications or other supplements. For example, high doses of caffeine can interfere with calcium absorption. Be aware of potential interactions and discuss your supplement regimen with a healthcare professional, especially if you are on medication. This precaution helps in avoiding adverse effects and ensuring the safe use of supplements in your running routine.
Best supplements for runners — conclusion
Incorporating supplements into a runner's routine can significantly aid in enhancing performance, improving recovery, and addressing specific nutritional deficiencies. Key nutrients like magnesium, calcium, creatine, and BCAAs play crucial roles in a runner's overall health and endurance.
It's important to tailor supplement choices to individual needs, consider optimal timing and dosage, and ensure they complement a balanced diet. Consulting a healthcare professional for personalized advice can also help in safely and effectively integrating supplements into one's running regimen.
Discover other sports supplements for endurance and energy
Read on to find the best supplements for muscle recovery to regain strength and to look after your muscles after intense running.
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To give you that extra mental stamina on a long run, check out the best nootropic pre-workouts.
Explore the best electrolyte powder to maintain optimal hydration and support endurance during your runs.
Which supplement is best for runners?
The best supplement for runners varies based on individual needs. Generally, iron is essential for oxygen transport, magnesium for muscle function, and omega-3s for reducing inflammation. Protein supplements aid muscle recovery. Always tailor choices to specific dietary gaps and training demands.
Should runners take creatine?
Runners can take creatine to enhance short, high-intensity runs, as it improves anaerobic capacity. However, it's less beneficial for long-distance running. Assess your training focus before deciding to include creatine in your supplement regimen.
Should runners take BCAA?
BCAA supplements can benefit runners by reducing muscle soreness and aiding recovery, especially after intense or long-distance running. They may also improve endurance and energy. However, assess your diet first, as sufficient protein intake might make BCAAs unnecessary.
- Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness Branched-chain amino acids supplementation attenuates the accumulation of blood lactate dehydrogenase during distance running.
- Nutrients. Can Magnesium Enhance Exercise Performance?
- International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. One Year of Oral Calcium Supplementation Maintains Cortical Bone Density in Young Adult Female Distance Runners.
- Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. Creatine supplementation delays onset of fatigue during repeated bouts of sprint running.