Are you falling short of your fitness goals? These trending supplements can help you get the most benefit from your workouts, diet, and recovery.
You eat well, exercise regularly, and focus your training. But while smart athletes aren’t looking for shortcuts, many are looking for an edge. And some are sharpening that edge with new supplements supported by research and science.
These are the latest nutrition trends and popular supplements making waves as athletes and fitness buffs seek improved sleep quality, muscle recovery, bone health, and more.
Sleep for Recovery
Sound sleep is the gold standard for recovery from physical exertion and overall health. The CDC recommends 7 hours for overall health, though training athletes may need more to feel their best. Too many nights without ample sleep can sap the immune system and lower testosterone levels (in men), resulting in suboptimal conditioning.
In short, the body produces melatonin when it’s dark outside and shuts it off when it’s light out. Seasonal changes and screen time can disrupt that cycle, in which case a small dose of melatonin in the evening can shift your sleep (and wake) cycle to an earlier time.
Prebiotics Are the New Probiotics
Prebiotics are nondigestible types of fiber that foster the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which you likely know as probiotics. While your intestines don’t digest the fiber, the probiotics do, which helps them flourish.
A small University of California Los Angeles study found that small daily doses of a prebiotic (xylooligosaccharide) could modify gut microbiota in healthy and prediabetic subjects.
As consumer awareness picks up, you’ll see more prebiotic supplements on the market. Researchers are in the early days of exploring symbiotic, a combination of a probiotic microorganism believed to have some beneficial effect when consumed and a prebiotic that specifically favors that probiotic’s growth.
There is already evidence consumers are shifting from probiotics to prebiotics, with sales doubling every year since 2016, according to Natural Products Insider.
Get the Most for Your Bones and Muscles
Magnesium is involved in hundreds of the body’s processes, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, and energy production. The crucial mineral also plays a large role in glucose metabolism, and studies have found that increased magnesium consumption may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Food sources include nuts and leafy green vegetables. However, dietary surveys found that 48% of Americans do not consume the recommended levels of magnesium, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Look for packets of magnesium citrate to hit the market, which combines on-the-go convenience with a powder form that provides better absorption. They don’t require water; you can just pour one in your mouth on the go.
CBD: Take the Edge Off, Mentally and Physically
Some studies show that one of the non-psychoactive compounds found in hemp plants supports a sense of calm from everyday anxiety. More recently, pro and amateur athletes have turned to CBD for help to reduce inflammation after exercise and improve their sleep habits, which are both supported by preclinical studies.
The diversity of plant compounds in hemp oil is hard to find in foods — at least in similar concentrations. CBD companies are making it simple for athletes to harness the benefits of CBD, offering it as an oil, capsule, or gummy. Some companies even combine hemp extract with other popular herbal supplements like ginger root and turmeric.
Like supplements, not all hemp extracts are alike, and it’s important you’re consuming quality CBD. Before buying, look for a Certificate of Analysis (COA), which includes testing for heavy metals and pesticides, and the U.S. Hemp Authority Certified Seal, the hemp industry’s initiative to provide high standards, best practices, and self-regulation for hemp and CBD products.
Reduce Muscle Damage: Branched-Chain Amino Acids
Bodybuilders may be familiar with branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), but they are now starting to become more common in other performance-oriented arenas. Today, more and more athletes are turning to amino acids to help delay fatigue and kickstart muscle building and recovery after tough workouts.
BCAA supplementation has shown to reduce muscle damage from endurance exercise, even when added to diets already getting the recommended amounts. Another study found benefits to the immune system among competitive cyclists over a season. If you’re already accustomed to a whey-based recovery shake after a workout, it may be time to consider adding BCAAs into the mix.
Endurance athletes are starting to find BCAA products more readily available from brands they recognize. Recently, energy and hydration brands like GU Energy Labs have entered the supplement market with BCAA-related product offerings.
Add Protein While Protecting Your Joints
Collagen has recently broken away from its singular association with cosmetics and gained ground as a performance nutrition ingredient. It’s also used as an additional protein source with benefits to joint and bone health. Your skin may start to look firmer too, and that’s not a bad thing.
Collagen fits well with the Whole 30, keto, and paleo diets, and more athletes have begun to include it as an important ingredient in their daily diet.
Products with collagen in them include Purely Elizabeth’s protein instant oats, Epic Provisions’ bone broth, and drink mixes and bars from Primal Kitchen.
A Final Note
Finally, remember supplements are meant to work with a healthy diet. And not all supplements are created equal. Before you buy any supplement, check that the manufacturer has been certified by an outside party.
You’ll notice this list didn’t include any miracle cures. If you’re looking to improve your general well-being or athletic performance, these supplements have shown they can support the body’s natural abilities. However, the rest is up to you.
This article is sponsored by Charlotte’s Web. Find out more about high-quality hemp extracts with naturally occurring CBD and other products here.