Out there are many performance and recovery products for top athletes, runners, cyclists, etc – more commonly known as Endurance Supplements. Some of them might support athletes, as being formulated to increase athletic performance, stamina and endurance, some of them even allowing quicker recovery times.
Yet no one knows exactly what a “good” endurance product should be able “do”. Do they meet certain vital requirements? Here are some of the main criteria:
Being Loaded with Electrolytes such as Sodium
Electrolytes are essential for our muscles to function – they even affect pH and fluid balances in our body. After continuous sport activities and endurance performances it is important to replace lost electrolytes. The electrolyte nutrients that are most often added to athlete’s drinks are potassium and sodium.
During endurance events such as cycling, adventure racing and triathlons, inadequate repletion of sodium can lead to a dangerous condition known as hyponatremia (may lead to neurological symptoms, swelling of brain, fatigue etc.).
Sodium promotes proper muscle function and is essential in many bodily processes, including the maintenance of well balanced fluid levels within the body. The body’s sodium level is the key determination of how much water stays within the body – the primary cause of sodium loss is through exercise induced perspiration.
In intense exercise an athlete may lose more than 3,000 mg of sodium per day – for example if an athlete sweats about 1.5 liter per hour, and his sodium losses per liter is about 750 milligrams, i.e. if he exercises for three hours, his total sodium loss is 3375 milligrams of sodium!
Raising Body Alkalinity
Bringing the body to a more alkaline state is very important – it is well known that all of us, especially athletes, should maintain proper alkaline pH levels in the blood and tissues, which is approximately 7.365 (i.e. slightly alkaline).
This pH Balance is also critical to achieve top athletic performance and high exercise and workout results. As our bodies metabolize the electrons from the food for energy production acid waste builds up. Our body continually attempts to remove this acid waste and tries to neutralize acid build-up in many ways – our kidneys filter blood and excrete acid through urine, and our lungs release acidic carbon dioxide. Above that, we also sweat acids out of our skin.
Therefore endurance supplements should boost body alkalinity to keep the body alkalized. Even better, if it worked on acid indigestion, agita, etc.
Reducing Muscle Acids
People who exercise know the harder you train and work out, and the more muscle glycogen is used for energy production, the more lactic acid build up in your muscles. These lactic acids reduce muscle strength and physical endurance and may, in severe cases, lead to lactic acidosis.
As the muscle acids build up, fatigue, muscle burn and muscle pain begins. Therefore, a quality endurance supplement should help buffer any exercise induced acids and help to prevent the acid build-up in the muscles. This may result in longer exercise and training periods and better performance.
Containing Calcium and/or Magnesium
Calcium is essential regarding strong bones and proper muscle function. In general, dairy foods are the best source of calcium, yet today’s processed foods often don’t provide the needed amounts of calcium.
Above that, many athletes, in order to lose weight, cut back on dairy products and therefore on calcium. That means: without enough calcium athletes may be at risk for stress fractures and osteoporosis. Therefore a good endurance supplement should be a rich source of quality calcium and should provide the 1,000 milligrams that adults need daily easily!
Magnesium is a vitally important mineral and plays an important role in muscle function. Magnesium activates numerous enzymes of the energy metabolism. Exercise, bodily stress or long-lasting training periods may increase magnesium needs.
Endurance Supplement Requirements
Overall, the “perfect” endurance supplement should buffer exercise-induced acid, allow quicker recovery times, promote a healthy body pH, improve endurance & stamina, and reduce muscle pain and fatigue.