Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin C…How do I supplement my diet in peak training? What are the best supplements to take? What advice is there about optimising my nutritional intake when my body is under heavy training stress? These questions are answered below by Keri Strachan, registered Dietician and sports nutrition enthusiast. I have worked closely with Keri and have been under her guidance while training for my Comrades back to back. The results: incredible.
My approach is food first. Ensure daily diet is appropriately balanced depending on level of training and if any body composition goals. I encourage a generous intake of varied vegetables. Also, herbs and spices for their antioxidant content, adequate protein and real food carbs. These will ensure good nutritional value as well as healthy fats to meet calorie needs.
Supplements on top of this may be a good multivitamin. This should contain a full range of B vitamins (about 100% RDA or more), vitamin C, iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium. In addition, a larger dose of vitamin C – up to 1000 mg – during high training load is recommended.
If cramping is a problem, Magnesium is recommended.
Rely on a multivitamin for the majority of your needs and add vitamin C or magnesium additionally as needed. I discourage taking isolated individual supplements as it is important that the ratio of interacting multivitamins and many minerals is needed for healthy function. In addition, omega 3 is important especially if you are unable to manage oily fish (sardines, pilchards, trout, tuna, salmon, mackerel).
Probiotics is also a good idea. I would suggest fermented foods as a daily source rather than supplements e.g. kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha etc.
It is important to note that any dietary requirements and supplements should be individualized based on the person’s diet, training and health issues.
An additional supplement to your diet which may be beneficial is additional collagen. The Harvest Table provides insight into this amazing protein.
Collagen is a protein that is naturally produced by your body. In fact, it’s the most abundant protein, accounting for about 33% of your body’s protein makeup. It is most specifically the protein that makes up our hair, skin, nails, joints and ligaments. Without sufficient Collagen, our bodies don’t perform optimally. Daily supplementation of Collagen could benefit with improved athletic performance, protecting connective tissues, supporting healthy joint maintenance and helping to reduce the risk of injury.
Since leaning more towards ultra distance training, I have found a huge benefit with using supplements together with a healthy balanced diet. I have found my nails and hair are stronger, I have been less susceptible to getting sick, recovery is improved and my energy levels feel more balanced. Especially when I reached my peak training, even with good nutrition, I found that a basic multivitamin, together with vitamin C, magnesium and calcium, helped me to maintain an even better balance especially when my body was taxed.
Do you supplement your diet especially while training hard? If so, what do you find works for you?
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