The top sports supplements to help support your healthy athletic lifestyle, without making you look like a man.
As a strength and conditioning coach at Syracuse I get a lot of questions, specifically from females, about what type of supplements to take as an athlete. And the truth is, any active female, whether you’re just trying to tone up, or trying to compete at the Division I level, can benefit from some type of supplementation. So, in an effort to address the myths associated with these products and their effects, I’ve put together a list of what I’ve found to be the top vitamins and supplements for a healthy body & mind.
Low blood iron among other things can cause fatigue and is relatively common amongst women. In addition to adding iron rich foods to my diet I began taking iron supplements in various forms in my early teens and have continued it ever since. Athletes can lose iron from impact or endurance sports involving running, jumping, or even from excessive sweating. These factors combined with blood loss from monthly menstrual cycles, inadequate dietary sources of iron, and high caffeine intake can set the female athlete up for an iron deficiency. If fatigue, dizziness, or trouble sleeping impacts you then iron supplementation might be the answer.
Calcium & Magnesium
For most of my life I’ve avoided dairy products. Even as a baby my parents claim I never really liked milk and now as an adult I still don’t care much for it. Being lactose intolerant doesn’t help either. These days many non-dairy food products are calcium enriched or fortified so it’s a little easier to meet those daily requirements, but calcium is another mineral I supplement for in my diet. Magnesium is usually paired with calcium in supplements because they are both important in bone health and help prevent chronic fatigue, muscle cramps, heart palpitations, and many PMS symptoms including nausea and irritability. Avoiding these issues are important for athletes because things like fatigue and muscle cramps can severely impact performance and lead to injuries.
I have some less than pleasant memories from early childhood when my mom would make me take a liquid cod liver oil supplement, but thankfully they now also come in capsule form. The benefits of fish oil are countless and are important for athletes, and non-athletes, alike. Whether you’re looking to improve concentration, decrease soreness and inflammation, build and repair muscle, improve joint health, or get rid of stubborn body fat, a few fish oil capsules a couple of times a day can make a world of difference. With a list of benefits like that I’d be willing to endure those teaspoons of fish oil supplements from my mom again.
I view a woman’s daily multivitamin as a safety net to backup any nutritional gaps in my diet. Many doctors now suggest that everyone should include a quality brand multivitamin as part of their daily diet. It’s like a supplement insurance policy for your body and a good option if you’re not too sure what to take, or if you know that your diet is isn’t as sensible as it could be. However, no pill is a substitute for a healthy, balanced diet.
Truth be told I’m not a big red meat eater. I could (and have) gone a week or more without significant food sources of meat protein in my diet. So for me, supplementing my diet with a protein powder is very necessary. Whey protein is a low fat, low carbohydrates, quick absorbing option to help women to meet their daily protein needs. Protein is important for athletes because it’s involved in muscle building and repair, hormone and antibody production, nutrient and oxygen transport thru the body, and is the building block for healthy skin, hair and nails. If you’re worried that whey protein will only “bulk you up”, consider this, even bikini model competitors supplement with protein products as part of their training diets. So don’t worry ladies, a few scoops of protein isn’t going to make you look like a man… unless you’re taking a healthy dosage of steroids on the side.
Now I’ll readily acknowledge that eating a diet consisting of a variety of fresh fruits, veggies, lean proteins, quality carbohydrates, and good fats should always be the first step in meeting our body’s nutritional needs. But, as highly active females in a non-perfect world, we could all use a little help in meeting these needs. Knowing that, having a better sense of what vitamins, proteins, and nutritional supplements you could or should be taking, and taking those products on a regular basis can have a major impact on the way you look, feel, and perform.