Every runner reaches a point when they realize that nutrition is just as important to fitness as a good training plan is. Ideally, you can everything your body needs from a healthy, balanced diet. But for a variety of reasons, your body may need a little help, and that’s where supplement come in. If you are not using them already, they might be something you should consider!
The best supplements for runners don’t add calories to your daily total, but provide health benefits you may not be getting from your diet alone.
No matter what aspect of your nutrition needs a little extra help, there’s a supplement out there to help.
Here are our favorites!
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Hammer Nutrition Tissue Rejuvenator
SaltStick Caps PLUS
Pacific Health Lab Endurox Excel
Best for Joint Repair
1. Hammer Nutrition Tissue Rejuvenator
The importance of joint support can’t be overstated, and it’s a good idea to take a supplement to protect your joints right from the start.
Whether you’re recovering from an ultra marathon or taking a break from running for a while, Hammer Nutrition Tissue Rejuvenator will give your body, and more specifically your connective tissue, the nutrients it needs to heal and recover.
Made from a combination of glucosamine, chondroitin, and methylsulfonylmethane, this supplement helps to repair and rebuild tendons, soft tissue, and joints.
It can also help to prevent damage from impact on the joints and protect joint mobility, both of which are important no matter whether you’re a sprinter or a long-distance runner.
Additions like turmeric and devil’s claw reduce inflammation, which makes recovery easier and faster.
Use it between runs to keep those joints moving freely and without pain, or while recovering to build them up again for your next race.
- Speeds up muscle recovery
- Rebuilds damaged tissues
- Reduces swelling and alleviates pain
- Increases mobility in the joints
- Some may find the pills too large to be swallowed comfortably
Top for Electrolyte Replacement
2. SaltStick Caps PLUS
If you’re planning on having a training session of two hours or longer, then SaltStick Caps PLUS could be the product you need.
They’re designed for electrolyte replacement and are a decent alternative to dissolvable tablets or chews.
The SaltStick Caps Plus contains sodium citrate, which not only replenishes your sodium but also makes the capsules gentle on the stomach and prevents digestive upset.
They also contain calcium and vitamin D, for better absorption. The balanced supply of magnesium, sodium, and potassium should help reduce muscle cramping and heat stress.
These capsules should give you a bit of an increase in energy and mental alertness too, as each capsule contains 30 milligrams of caffeine. Even if you’re sensitive to caffeine, there’s not enough to make you jittery or anxious.
Runners can take 1 capsule for every 30 to 60 minutes of exercise. If you’re running long distances or participating in a marathon, you can also use the protective dispenser to store your capsules. Simply attach the dispenser to your running belt and have a capsule as and when needed, on the go.
As an added bonus, they’re free of banned substances and use a vegetable-based capsule composition, which makes them suitable for vegetarians.
- Formulated to replenish electrolytes
- Free from banned substances
- Reduces muscle cramping
- Suitable for vegetarians
- The dispenser may be uncomfortable to carry, and the capsules can get lost in a running belt or pocket
Best for Fast Recovery
3. Pacific Health Lab Endurox Excel
Recovery is as important as the activity that you’re doing! Endurox Excel helps your body make the most of its recovery time.
Made from natural ingredients, these tablets contain an adaptogen herb, ciwujia (Siberian ginseng), and vitamin E. This combo helps keep your body in balance by reducing the stress hormone cortisol during and after training. It also helps to boost the immune system.
Ciwujia helps reduce lactic acid build-up. This allows you to push yourself harder for longer, while improving your endurance, reducing muscle fatigue, and improving VO2 max.
It can also increase fat metabolism, which leaves your muscles with plenty of fuel to help you better your personal best.
The blend of vitamin E and ciwujia helps increase antibodies and immune cells in the body. This helps speed up your recovery process, as it slows down free radical build-up.
A recovery supplement is well worth having in your daily diet, and this is our choice!
- Helps speed up muscle recovery
- All-natural ingredients
- Reduces muscle fatigue
- Contains 60 IU of vitamin E, for antioxidants
- Runners who suffer from high blood pressure should consult a doctor before using these capsules
Top BCAA Supplement
4. Hammer Nutrition Endurance BCAA+
BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, help repair the muscles after an intense workout, and prevent the loss of lean muscle, especially when training in a fasted state.
Incorporating BCAAs into your diet should increase your stamina, and you may find that you have more energy at the end of your run.
Your body turns to BCAAs as a fuel source when your glycogen levels are low, so you should be able to run faster for longer!
BCAAs also help to reduce cortisol levels in the body. This is important, as cortisol can cause muscle tissue to break down after a run.
These capsules should also reduce the amount of muscle soreness you feel in the hours after your activity.
Leucine is responsible for stimulating protein synthesis in the muscles, which keeps them strong and healthy. Paired with other BCAAs, it helps the muscle to repair and to form new muscle tissue.
- 60 capsules in a bottle
- Increases stamina and focus
- Formulated for muscle repair
- Can help to stabilize blood sugar levels
- Slightly pricey
Best Protein Supplement
5. Redcon1 Green Beret Vegan Protein
Whether you’re running long distances or doing 5k runs every other day, having the right amount of quality protein in your diet can make a world of difference to your performance.
Made from all-natural ingredients, you won’t have to worry about any artificial flavors, colorants, or dyes in this product.
This protein powder is made from a blend of brown rice, quinoa protein, and pea isolate, making it perfect for runners of all dietary persuasions.
Redcon 1 Green Beret Vegan Protein powder contains 20 grams of quality, plant-based protein per scoop. The absence of dairy means there’s less chance of having a bad digestive reaction, which is important for protein supplements.
Just one scoop per day can help to accelerate lean muscle mass gain and speed up muscle recovery after a workout.
Carbohydrates also play an important role, by providing fuel for your run. This powder contains 5 grams of carbs per scoop, which will help keep your muscles fueled as you go.
- Contains 20 grams of protein per scoop
- Suitable for vegans
- No artificial colors, dyes or flavors
- Naturally sweetened
- May be slightly more expensive than regular protein powders
Top Multivitamin for Runners
6. Nature’s Plus Source Of Life
When putting your body through its paces, you need to make sure you’re replacing important nutrients to keep your performance at its best.
A multivitamin is the best way to ensure you’re covering nutritional gaps in your diet. Nature’s Plus Source of Life is FDA and NSF-registered, gluten-free, and suitable for vegetarians.
This multivitamin is made from 35 organic whole foods, which will help to boost the immune system and increase energy levels. The blend of vitamins, lipids, enzymes, amino acids, and nucleic acids helps the body repair cellular damage.
The vitamins also help to convert food into energy easily, which can improve your performance on a long run.
When your run is finished, your dose will continue to provide sustainable natural energy to get you through your daily activities.
- Blend of vitamins, lipids, enzymes, amino acids
- Made from 35 organic whole foods
- Gluten-free and suitable for vegetarians
- FDA and NSF-registered
- The tablets are large, which may be hard to swallow for some
7. Now Acetyl-L-Carnitine 500 mg Veg Capsules
If you’re looking to boost your performance and metabolism while reducing muscle fatigue, then you may benefit from an L-Carnitine supplement.
Acetyl-L-carnitine helps to increase the oxidation of fat, and transports fat to the cells when needed. This helps to prevent glycogen depletion, which will give you that extra dash of energy at the end of your race.
Not only is this designed to help increase endurance, but it should also stimulate mental alertness so you can focus while running.
Acetyl-L-carnitine is absorbed quickly by the body. You can stack this supplement with your pre-workout or protein shake before your workout and still reap the benefits of it.
- NPA A-rated GMP certification
- Quickly absorbed by the body
- Prevents glycogen depletion
- Helps with muscle recovery
- May make some runners jittery
8. ALLMAX Nutrition Creatine Monohydrate
If you’re looking to improve your speed or increase your lactate threshold, then supplementing with creatine before your workout can be beneficial.
While the body naturally produces creatine, when you’re doing high-intensity exercise you need your body to create more ATP (adenosine triphosphate) so that you won’t run out of steam.
Creatine helps to produce more ATP in the cells, which leads to better overall performance and more impressive endurance.
Creatine also stimulates protein synthesis, which increases the speed of muscle recovery. It helps to increase lean muscle gain, which in turn increases strength.
Choosing a supplement with creatine can also help to replace the energy store in muscle, which will help keep you feeling energized after a long, intense run.
- Great for high-intensity training
- Increases endurance
- Prevents ATP from being depleted
- Stimulates protein synthesis
- No flavor variations
Best Omega 3 for Recovery
9. Now Ultra Omega-3
After a long, tough run you can expect delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). While stretching can help relieve the pain, taking an Omega-3 supplement can help to reduce inflammation.
Omega-3s increase blood flow to muscles during your run, and after your workout, they trigger MTor. This is the process of preventing muscle breakdown and building lean muscle.
Omega-3s have a number of other health benefits, such as reducing triglycerides and lowering blood pressure. Including Omega-3s in your diet can help to support and maintain a strong cardiovascular system, as well as promote healthy brain activity.
- Natural fish oil supplement
- Supports healthy cardiovascular function
- Supports cognitive function
- Helps to reduce inflammation
- Not suitable for vegans or vegetarians
Top Caffeine Supplement
10. SNS Caffeine
When it comes to running marathons or covering long distances, conserving glycogen is vital. By taking a caffeine supplement, your body uses stored fat as a fuel source, leaving you with more glycogen to help you finish the race.
SNS Caffeine contains a whopping 501 capsules per container, which equates to a year’s supply, even if you up the dose to two capsules a day!
Each capsule contains 200 mg of caffeine (about the equivalent of two 8-oz. cups of coffee), which is enough to give you a super boost. But it’s a fairly strong dose, and may have negative effects on those sensitive to it.
Caffeine can help to increase your overall performance while reducing muscle fatigue and increasing your endurance.
It’s known for increasing one’s mental alertness, too. If you’re one of those people who needs your coffee in the morning to function, you know it!
Caffeine also increases neuromuscular coordination, which helps your leg muscles contract faster and more forcefully. This means you can run faster while expending less energy, even on hot and humid days.
You can take this supplement 15 minutes before your workout. Once you start to feel the effects, it’ll continue to give you increased energy levels to sustain your run for 60 minutes after you’ve taken it.
- 501 capsules per container
- Increased energy
- Improves endurance
- Enhances mental alertness
- Runners sensitive to caffeine may find they get quite jittery
Unsure of which of the best supplements for runners to choose? Here are some frequently asked questions we find often to help you make the decision.
What Are The Various Supplements Good For?
When you run or participate in any form of exercise, you’re actively breaking down muscle in the body.
After taking time to recover, if you do it right, you’ll find that your body is stronger and able to withstand more strenuous activity.
It’s important to get the right nutrients and minerals into our bodies to help them recover, build lean muscle, and maintain energy levels after an intense workout. Each supplement has its own unique benefits, which we’ll take a look at below.
BCAAs are important for runners or anyone who’s doing any form of physical activity. They’re an essential amino acid that the body can’t produce on its own.
These amino acids are the building blocks of lean muscle mass, and are an essential component of muscle maintenance.
They help reduce muscle stiffness, increase muscle recovery, improve anaerobic performance, and boost the immune system.
Protein is essential. It helps keep the body healthy even when it’s under strain. Runners need an adequate amount of protein after a run, as it reduces the stress hormone cortisol, increases the glycogen levels, and is a vital part of repairing muscle damage.
Protein helps rebuild the muscles faster and reduces the amount of inflammation after exercise. Runners who have higher amounts of protein in their diet will notice that they don’t experience serious muscle stiffness or soreness.
Omega-3s are a supplement that all runners should include in their diets. They help protect joint mobility, reduce lactic acid build-up in the muscles, and reduce inflammation.
This means that you’ll have a quicker recovery period with less pain, and an increase in endurance so that you can go for longer runs.
When we run, we put our bodies through strain and stress, especially if we’re running long distances. This can create deficiencies when it comes to certain vitamins, and we don’t always get what we need from our diet.
Vitamin deficiencies can lead to slower muscle recovery, feeling fatigued, and put you at a higher risk for stress fractures. Taking a good multivitamin will not only increase your muscle health and endurance levels, but it will also help your body absorb and hold onto vitamins.
While L-carnitine helps to speed up muscle recovery, it’s also great at turning fat into a fuel source for the body. When taken daily, runners will notice a decrease in muscle soreness, thanks to a reduction in free radical production in the body.
Runners may notice an increase in their endurance and their VO2 max. If you’re taking L-carnitine after a run with carbohydrates, it improves uptake of glucose that will be stored as glycogen.
Caffeine helps preserve glycogen stores in the muscle, while increasing your energy and endurance levels.
Runners can go further without having to worry about depleting their glycogen stores, as caffeine stimulates the body to use fat as a fuel source.
ATP is the energy source for the cells in your body, and when you start to run, your body needs to produce it quickly to fuel your exercise.
Taking creatine before you head out on your run helps increase the amount of ATP that your muscles produce.
This increase leads to more strength, an improved overall performance, and increased lean muscle gain. The muscle gain in your legs could help you to improve your speed in the long run, and run further before feeling muscle fatigue.