What are the Best Pre-Workout Supplements for Running in 2017?
You've been there before. You went on this run thinking it'd be no sweat, but now your lungs are burning. You're not sure your legs can carry you the rest of the way.
Fortunately, there are healthy supplements to increase your endurance during a run. I'll take you through the reasons to try a pre workout supplement and help you choose the best pre workout for running.
Why Use a Pre Workout Supplement for Running?
Different types of exercise have different needs. Many pre workout supplements are meant for weight training or high-intensity routines. Runners don't necessarily need the same high-energy boost at the beginning of a workout.
Instead, it's more important to take a supplement that helps you with endurance. The hardest part of running isn't getting started, but keeping yourself going.
What Should Runners Look for In a Pre Workout Supplement?
Running is tough on your body, so it's not a good idea to go heavy on stimulants. Stimulants energize you for a brief amount of time but leave you feeling even more burned out when the temporary high fades.
Fortunately, some nutrients can improve your body's stamina and endurance. It's important for runners to get carbohydrates, amino acids, and beta-alanine, all nutrients that improve endurance, and don't just give a short-term boost.
Some people avoid supplements with carbohydrates, but for runners, carbs are important. Complex carbohydrates give you the energy needed to do extended cardio exercises. Regular marathon runners know that carbs are vital to getting across the finish line (source).
Carbohydrates produce glycogen, your body stores in your muscles. When you need the energy, your body draws on this glycogen store. Having enough glycogen gives the body a consistent source of energy without depleting your muscle mass.
Beta-alanine is an up-and-coming supplement in the health and fitness world used for increasing your endurance. It’s a type of amino acid. Research has found that in addition to improving performance, beta-alanine also helps increase your lean body mass (source).
Check out this super quick video to get an idea of how beta-alanine works in the body:
Beta-alanine works great in a pre workout regimen. However, you can take doses anytime during the day and still experience its benefits.
Amino acids, especially branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), are great for endurance and toning your body mass. A study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition tested participants in a resistance-training program (source). Half of the participants took BCAA supplements while the other half took whey protein.
The BCAA group showed greater improvements in muscle strength and fat loss, resulting in an overall leaner body mass.
Another study examined body mass while participants stayed on a calorie-restricted diet (source). Regular BCAA supplements helped active adults lose fat mass. However, individuals who didn't take BCAAs lost lean muscle mass.
The most commonly accepted BCAA ratio is 2:1:1 of leucine to isoleucine to valine. This ratio lines up most closely with our muscles' natural structure. Leucine is the most beneficial BCAA, most effectively encouraging muscle growth and recovery (source).
What to Exclude
Try to avoid caffeine or other stimulants in your supplement. Since most pre workout supplements contain some caffeine, look for those with small doses.
Many runners opt for supplements without creatine. In addition to a few health risks for select populations, creatine doesn't improve performance in endurance activities like running.
Cytomax Sports Performance Mix is my top pick for the best pre workout for running. Cytomax increases endurance with a focus on carbohydrates, while still including a healthy amount of amino acids, including BCAAs.
It does use caffeine for a boost, but in a small quantity than many competitors. Sports Performance also has health-boosting ingredients to increase your performance and the quality of your workout.
L-glutamine and L-alanine encourage muscle growth and recovery, while a blend of electrolytes helps you stay hydrated on long runs. Sports Performance is a reasonably priced, healthy boost to take before your workout.