For a couple of years I have limited the supplements I take to a Multi Vitamin and Omega 3 but recently after feeling fatigued I introduced a couple of additional supplements into my routine, namely liquid iron and hydration tablets.
- In particular – liquid iron (specifically Spatone)
Adequate iron levels are important for the body to function properly whatever you do day to day and Doctors have often suspected my iron levels to be low (although blood tests have always shown otherwise – I think I’m just very very pale!). More relevant for me though, from my own reading on the subject recently (because before I start using supplements I like to do some research), ensuring the levels of iron in your body are adequate can have a positive effect it can have on your fitness goals in several ways.
Some things taking an iron supplement may improve (note I’m not massively sciencey and this is just my understanding of what I read):
Energy Levels – Ensuring iron levels are not low can help reduce fatigue during workout as without sufficient iron less ATP can be produced (part of the reason why those lacking sufficient iron can feel tired and fatigued).
Performance in the gym – One thing iron does is ensure oxygen saturated blood is able to efficiently reach the areas that need it thus assisting your performance.
Recovery – That same nutrient filled blood pumping efficiently into muscles can also aid recovery after training. In addition low iron levels can reduce the efficiency of our immune system, which could also make it harder to recover from a tough week of training.
- Hydration Tablets (specifically ORS)
Hydration plays an important role in sports performance (and every day human being functioning).
Most of the time I still just drink water (and I average about 4 litres a day) but when I have been feeling run down I’ve been adding a hydration tablet to my pint of water a couple of times a day to perk myself back up. Adding a hydration tablet into your water can help you get the right balance of water and electrolytes needed to replenish your body after training. The theory therefore is that you can hydrate more efficiently after training by drinking a hydration solution to just water. The advantage to these over sports drinks is the tablets are lower in sugar and calories.
As little as a 2-3 percent reduction in body mass via water loss can have a significant impact on your concentration and muscle power so potential benefits to remaining hydrated:
Reduced chance of cramp, muscle fatigue and joint pain. As the core body temperature and heart rate can be regulated more efficiently.
Reduced fatigue. Helping making training easier.
Improved concentration. Being well hydrated can maximise the speed at which messages are sent from the brain to the muscles, resulting in a better performance for longer.
Avoid Dehydration When exercising, your body loses water and essential salts through sweat. If not replaced, this can result in dehydration – this obviously is not good.
Obviously you can’t replace good nutrition with supplements but knowing what your body needs and making smart use of supplements to ensure you get it can be a good thing.