It’s a pretty common dichotomy in sports of all types – to supplement, or not to supplement?
Obviously this depends on many factors, the primary being what you are actually supplementing with. Also, why you even might need (or not) to supplement in the first place (or not, as the case may be).
Well, I’m not claiming I know everything about sport or about nutritional supplementation, but I have been using various supplements for over a year which have become a steadfast fixture in my nutritional regime.
I am a lifelong vegetarian, so apart from the obvious occasional protein powder that I use when I have particularly intense bouts of training, there are a few other essential things I use to supplement my diet.
But it’s not always about adding something into your diet that you’re not getting through your food intake. I learned this after working with Emma Risbey, nutritional therapist. Her emphasis was on anti-inflammatory foods and keeping a healthy gut – all of which contributes to better health and improved performance/recovery.
So, for those that are interested here’s what I supplement with:
1. Fish oil
I use Aminoman high grade fish oils which help to reduce inflammation, improve joint flexibility and help to keep a well-functioning immune system. This is my only deviation from vegetarianism, but it’s for optimal health and the oils also derive from sustainably sourced fish.
2. R5 Amino Acids
Aminoman Amino R5 and Amber Aminos are absolutely incredible products when combined with a hard training block. I take them on training camps as they not only help to improve immune function, improve recovery, and reduce stress (both of mind and body) due to powerful adaptogenic herbs, but they also help to improve the quality of sleep.
3. Active Cherry
Active Cherry (by Active Edge) has been recommended to me by three separate professional nutritionists, so that says it all really! Concentrated Monterey cherry juice has been scientifically proven to reduce inflammation and improve performance. The range also includes other immune-boosting and performance enhancing natural concentrated juice supplements, including pomegranate and blueberry. They also count as one of your five a day, and Active Cherry boost serotonin production to help you sleep better. Win win!
I eat kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and more to keep a healthy gut. But I have also been taking a high-strength probiotic supplement for nearly two years to maintain gut function. I use HealthSpan SuperPro 20. Great to use when training or racing abroad too as you’re less likely to be susceptible to an upset stomach due to food or water that you’re unfamiliar with.
Couldn’t come recommended highly enough by my nutritionist, this powerful spice has massive anti-inflammatory properties. I do use turmeric in cooking and stir it into yoghurt or smoothies, but sometimes it’s far easier to pop a pill! I take Aminoman Optimised Curcumin every time my muscles are sore after hard training sessions or races, or if I’m feeling a bit worn down from work and training. It also has mood-boosting effects!
6. Immune Power
Aminoman Immune Power was a staple of mine over the winter. It comprises an incredible blend of berry and mushroom extract to help keep the immune system functioning optimally, and I can honestly say it was a life saver. I didn’t get ill once over winter!
7. ViNitro Plus
If natural doping is a thing (I’m sure it is, but I’m just kidding!), then this is it. You know those claims about beetroot and nitric oxide increasing endurance capabilities? Well they’re true. It’s just this stuff is much more powerful. Derived from grape extract, I take one of these only before a very hard training session and always before races. Since I’ve been using them, my races have all been vastly improved. Where I used to fatigue and power/pace would drop, it never happens anymore!
8. Vitamin D
This is like a mood vitamin. I had a bit of January blues at the beginning of this year until I started taking Vitamin D. It was recommended to me by the expert sports nutritionist who has worked with famous football and rugby teams and Olympic athletes, Matt Lovell (who also founded Aminoman). My energy levels and mood improved and it also helps support the immune system. I only take it in winter when sunlight absorption is much lower.
So there you have it.
Just as a caveat to all of that – I am not making any nutritional claims and I am not qualified to do so, but what I can say is that I work and train hard and my performance is only improving in triathlon. I also managed to go for an entire year without a single illness – not even a cold – and the year before, I had a cold two weeks after every single race.
A combination of eating better variety of foods in my diet, loads of anti-inflammatory foods and spices, and the brilliant supplements from Aminoman have all helped towards this.
Really it totally depends on the individual, but you don’t always need to look at supplementation in terms of what you don’t have, as it doesn’t always work like that. Many of these products I only take periodically or sporadically to tie in with training or races. The only ones I take daily are probiotics and fish oils.
If you fancy giving it a go, here is my Aminoman discount code which will entitle you to ##% off Aminoman products. What I love about them is that they are health-focused rather than just performance claims – for example, I also use the Supergreens powder in smoothies and the Chinese 5 Spice in cooking!
After all, health = performance, because if you can stay injury and illness-free, then your training will be much more consistent, your recovery will be improved, and you will make faster gains.