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The Best Supplements for Sports Athletes

Best Supplements for Sports Athletes


Staying competitive as an athlete, whether seriously in a professional league or at an amateur level, is rarely easy, particularly for adults with busy lives. There’s significant pressure to perform, develop new skills, and outshine the competition, and not every day is a good one.

Sooner or later, it may become more difficult to gain ground. Maybe your muscles stay sore for longer after a long workout, or you experience more common aches and pains. Maybe pulled muscles are typical, or sprains occur from time to time.

Top Supplements for Athletes

Supplements for Athletes

When your performance isn’t giving you the gains you have in mind, it may be time to switch up your strategy. While supplementation won’t put you at the top of your sport overnight, as nice as that would be, the right combination of powders, pills, vitamins, and minerals may be able to help you get ahead.

These are some of the most important supplements you should consider as a sports athlete, helping you with everything from building bigger muscles to shaving a few seconds off of your mile time.


Creatine is considered a staple for the athletically-inclined and is found in most performance-based energy drinks and protein powders. A nitrogenous organic acid, creatine is beloved for its connections to increased energy, muscle development, and improved performance.

Anecdotally, there is evidence that creatine can be a benefit in sports that require sudden short bursts of activity, like weightlifting or sprinting. Most users begin a creatine regimen with 10 grams to 30 grams of a day, followed by maintenance doses of 2 grams to 5 grams.

Creatine can be taken as a supplement but occurs naturally in tuna, salmon, and other forms of fish and poultry.

Recommended: Natural Stacks BioCreatine


Magnesium is a critical part of keeping energy levels high, keeping you motivated and focused on a great workout. Without enough magnesium, your muscles will be tired and your body won’t perform up to par, leaving you unable to gain any ground.

Magnesium supplements can tackle these challenges, keeping your muscles ready to work. Magnesium also has connections to mental acuity and clarity, keeping you focused on your goals instead of letting your mind wander while you’re working hard at the gym.

If you’re tired of being tired, try adding a magnesium supplement to your daily routine – or increasing your consumption of dark chocolate and avocados, which are naturally high in this nutrient.

Recommended: Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Glycinate



Potassium is an electrolyte that works with sodium within the cells of the body to regulate and balance water content and blood pressure. It also helps to optimize nerve signals to the muscles, enabling them to work better; while low levels of potassium are associated with an opposite effect: muscle cramping.

Commonly found in fruits and vegetables such as bananas, sweet potatoes, avocados, and melons, potassium plays an important role in carbohydrate metabolism and providing fuel for cells. For all of these reasons, it is especially important for athletes to ensure they are getting enough of this nutrient.

Although taking potassium supplements is an option, a well-balanced diet including potassium-rich foods will normally be enough to maintain adequate levels of the nutrient. If you do decide to take a potassium supplement, be sure to use only as indicated, as too much potassium can be toxic.

Recommended: Pure Encapsulations Potassium Citrate


Calcium is an important nutrient for good bone health, making it a crucial dietary consideration for any athlete. Research indicates that when calcium is taken along with protein, potassium, and vitamin D, bone density is dramatically increased – which is an essential benefit for those engaged in any high-impact exercise.

Calcium and other minerals can be depleted though perspiration, which is of particular concern to athletes as they have a higher probability of losing the nutrient this way. Like potassium, calcium is necessary for proper muscle function and a drop in calcium levels can lead to cramping.

Dairy products, green leafy vegetables, almonds, broccoli, and sardines are foods that contain substantial amounts of calcium. Calcium supplements are also a good option for those taking part in sports or other highly physical activities.

Recommended: Vitamin Code Raw Calcium


Iron Supplements

Iron is necessary in order to help red blood cells deliver oxygen to the muscles. In particular, athletes have a higher than normal need for iron because high physical intensity creates an increase in red cell production, which in turn causes a greater need for iron in the body.

When iron levels become low, oxygen delivery to cells becomes reduces, causing a reduction in physical performance, especially aerobic activity. Because the iron found in animal protein is more bioavailable than that found in vegetables, those who are vegetarians or vegan will need nearly double the iron compared to those who eat meat.

Some foods with high-iron content include meat, fish, eggs, fortified bread and cereals. Iron supplements are also a great way to ensure optimum levels of this important nutrient.

Recommended: MegaFood Blood Builder

Vitamin D

Most commonly associated with spending time outside in the sun, Vitamin D is a key part of a healthy life. However, many athletes aren’t aware of the benefits that can come from increasing normal Vitamin D levels, particularly for those who experience muscle strains and soreness on a regular basis.

Vitamin D is essential for bone health, and healthy muscles require healthy bones. When taken as a supplement, Vitamin D can support a strong skeletal system, going above and beyond the basics.

For athletes in more dangerous sports, like football, hockey, or rugby, Vitamin D supplementation can reduce the likelihood of fractures, keeping athletes healthier for longer. Vitamin D supplementation has also been linked to an increase in testosterone production.

Recommended: Solgar Vitamin D3

Whey Protein

There’s a reason why virtually every athlete or want-to-be athlete takes protein shakes or supplements before or after a workout. Protein powder is considered the gold standard of muscle development, and is seen as non-negotiable among many serious fitness fanatics.

However, in recent years, whey protein in particular has gained a following due to its role in protein synthesis. For those looking to burn fat and increase mass, whey protein has its benefits.

Whey protein in a shake taken after a workout can support the advantages of exercise for hours, extending the benefits of working out by promoting the development or maintenance of muscle mass.

Recommended: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder

Protein for Athletes

Casein Protein

Another popular form of protein supplementation, casein protein can support performance and muscle development to help improve your game.

Casein protein is derived from dairy, similar to whey protein, but has a slower release, meaning that its results are felt in the body for a longer period of time. This leads to faster muscle development as beneficial amino acids are released for numerous hours following a workout.

Casein also has positive effects on metabolic rate, improving caloric burn for more rapid weight loss. When combined, a higher metabolism with extended amino acid release can provide the best of both worlds, helping you see better results on a faster timetable.

Recommended: Naked Casein 100% Micellar Casein Protein


For those who don’t see results from whey protein, glutamine is a popular alternative for athletes seeking muscle development. As an amino acid produced naturally in the body, glutamine has proven connections to protein synthesis and muscle development.

In addition, glutamine assists with fighting catabolism, or the process of complex molecule breakdown within the muscles. It also assists with intestinal health, keeping your gut flora balanced.

Glutamine can’t be stored in the body for long periods of time, so it’s essentially a use it or lose it kind of supplement. However, as it is processed in higher doses for those working out regularly, supplementation post-workout can be highly beneficial.

Recommended: Kaged Muscle L-Glutamine Powder


While less popular among more casual exercising adults, branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s) – isoleucine, leucine, and valine – are considered a vital part of athlete supplementation, particularly for bodybuilders and weightlifters. It is touted for its abilities in building skeletal muscle, which supports a stronger frame and, as a result, muscle strength.

In addition, BCAAs can preserve muscle mass when keeping a calorie deficit for weight loss purposes. By slowing protein breakdown and increasing protein synthesis, BCAAs can make a difference in your workouts, improving performance during weight loss and beyond.

BCAA supplements are generally dissolved in water and consumed throughout the course of a workout, unlike traditional protein intake.

Recommended: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA

Fish Oil

Fish Oil for Athletes

Found both within fish and in abundance on shelves in health food and grocery stores, fish oil is beloved by athletes and non-athletes alike. Fish oil is packed with omega-3’s and has been demonstrated to support cardiovascular health, including lowering blood pressure and reducing risk of heart attack or stroke.

In addition to benefits to the heart, fish oil is also tied to strength, muscle development, and exercise performance. It can also reduce muscle soreness after exercise, making it easier to work out more without pain or risk of injury.

For those who don’t enjoy eating fish regularly, fish oil tablets should be taken orally once a day for best results.

Recommended: Solgar Triple Strength Omega 3 EPA & DHA


This one may seem like a bit of a cop-out, but taking your multivitamins can actually make a difference.

Multivitamins are intended to make up for any nutritional deficits that may occur through normal eating, containing full or almost-full amounts of a standard panel of vitamins and minerals, like Vitamins C, A, E, K, and D, B vitamins, potassium, and zinc. These components can boost the immune system, keeping you healthier and better able to stave off illness.

If possible, consider choosing a brand or package that is intended for athletes or physically active men, as these kinds of vitamins may have higher amounts of more beneficial compounds, like calcium. Keep an eye out for gender-specific vitamins as well; while men and women need many of the same vitamins, there are differences in nutritional requirements.

Recommended: Naturello Whole Food Multivitamin for Men


As an athlete, it’s up to you to find the right balance for your body to achieve your fitness objectives. With continued hard work and the right supplementation, you may soon realize that your goals – both on and off the court – are a little closer than before.

See Also: How to Choose the Best Supplements for Bodybuilding and Sports Fitness

About the Author

About the Author: Mark McIntyre is the founder of and acts as it's chief contributor. He is a fitness trainer and avid mountain biker who also enjoys camping, hiking and fishing. Besides managing Male Health Review, Mark is also a guest columnist for several blogs related to men's health. More about this author...

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