Crossfit athlete’s will understand the physical demands of the sport, and as well as looking to optimise performance, it’s also necessary to focus on keeping healthy, preventing injury and boosting recovery, as these are all important to facilitate the maximum amount of time you have to train.
Below I have highlighted the top supplements to help aid both recovery and performance.
1. Fish oils
As probably one of the biggest ‘bang for your buck’ supplements, the list of benefits of omega 3’s seems ever growing; improvements in body composition, joint health, brain function, insulin sensitivity and positive effects on cardiovascular function. Their anti-inflammatory properties also help reduce the risk of injury and illness, making it an important addition for any Crossfit athlete.
2. Vitamin D3
Known as the Sunshine vitamin, vitamin D3 is actually a pro hormone. Synthesized by sunlight, it is a particularly important for people living in the UK.
Vitamin D3 helps with immune function, inflammation, respiratory health, bone health, and a body of research is beginning to show its positive role in performance too. With the lack of sunlight in the UK, it is almost impossible to get the required levels of Vitamin D3, especially during the Winter months. Furthermore, those involved in a lot of activity like Crossfit athletes make this supplement a great addition.
3. Whey protein
Whey protein helps maintain muscle mass by inducing protein synthesis and reducing muscle breakdown. It also blunts the effect of the stress hormone cortisol, a precursor of fat accumulation.
Whey protein is convenient, cost effective and particularly useful before and after you train.
As a Crossfit athlete, you should be looking for a protein intake of between 1.4-2g per kg of bodyweight per day, with frequent ingestions of around 20-30g per serving.
Supplements to improve performance
As one of the most widely researched supplements, creatine monohydrate is also one of the most popular, and rightly so. Creatine has been shown to increase strength, power and fat free mass. It may also benefit high intensity sprints and even endurance training fitting nicely with Crossfit style workouts.
5. Citruline malate
Shown to reduce muscle fatigue, citrulline malate increases nitric oxide that promotes blood flow to the working muscles, which in turn increases your exercise capacity. It also helps with energy production and acts as a buffer to ammonia, a compound in the body that hinders muscle contraction, further improving performance.
6. Beta alanine
Beta alanine is a non essential amino acid needed for the production of carnosine, a compound that helps maintain the PH of muscles by buffering lactic acid, which reduces the symptoms of fatigue. It has also been shown to increase exercise capacity in endurance sports and during high intensity exercise, making it a great addition for any Crossfit athlete.
7. Sodium Bicarbonate
Sodium bicarbonate is another buffering agent that helps with acidity and maintaining the PH of the muscle cells. Like beta alanine, this also has been shown to improve endurance capacity in both longer and high intensity training bouts, especially beneficial for Crossfit. Be sure not to ingest more than the recommended amount to reduce any tummy upsets, the last thing you want during a Fran workout!
Omega-3 fatty acids in anti-inflammation (pro-resolution) and GPCRs . Prog Lipid Res. (2012)
Close, G.L. et al. (2012). Assessment of vitamin D concentration in professional athletes and healthy adults during the winter months in the UK: implications for skeletal muscle function. Journal of Sports Sciences, In Press.
Close GL, Jeckey J, Patterson M, Bradley W, Owens DJ, Fraser WD, Morton JP. The effects of vitamin D3 supplementation on serum total 25[OH]D concentration and physical performance: a randomized dose-response study. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Jan 2013.
Cooper et al. : Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2012 9:33
Jordan T, et al Effect of beta-alanine supplementation on the onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA) during treadmill running: Pre/post 2 treatment experimental design . J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2010)
Smith AE, et al Effects of beta-alanine supplementation and high-intensity interval training on endurance performance and body composition in men; a double-blind trial . J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2009)
Stout JR, et al Effects of twenty-eight days of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on the physical working capacity at neuromuscular fatigue threshold . J Strength Cond Res. (2006)
Hickner RC, et al L-citrulline reduces time to exhaustion and insulin response to a graded exercise test . Med Sci Sports Exerc. (2006)
Lavender G, Bird SR Effect of sodium bicarbonate ingestion upon repeated sprints . Br J Sports Med. (1989)