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Runners & Athletes: Herbs, Supplements & Diet Guidelines

For the active –looking to sustain, boost and build.

For those whom are more active and finding that they need to sustain more muscle mass as well as build more muscle read on. We will cover some herbs, supplements and eating guidelines to follow when one is exercising more rigorously.


The most vital intake which needs to be increased is protein. It is an important part of nutritional intake, especially when training. The best time to take it is before, during and immediately after exercise. It aids the building of muscle mass, and thereby increases strength. One has to be careful with the amounts consumed. Always follow the recommended dosages and make sure that you drink plenty of water. One of the best ways to supplement with it is to use a whey protein shake. This is easy and also helps ensure that you keep hydrated. If you are training heavily then consider the more concentrated option which is whey protein isolate, but be sure you are well hydrated. When you increase you dietary protein intake it is vital to make it part of a well-rounded meal plan, plus the regular exercise it warrants. Remember that protein intake must also take into consideration age, gender, as well as amount and intensity of exercise. Always follow the dosage on the supplement bottle.


One of my absolute favourites to recommend is powdered greens, for instance chlorella, wheatgrass or barley. There are some brilliant supplements out there that contain a potent combination of these. Besides the benefit of cleansing and detoxifying the body, they also provide a vast array of vitamins and minerals. They are easy to add to smoothies, fruit juice and even yoghurt and provide valuable nutrients. Always follow the dosage on the container.


One of the supplements that has got some really bad press over the years is gradually making a comeback, creatine. It is particularly important to follow the dosage instructions, where the issues spring up is when one starts to abuse it. It has proved itself time and again as an excellent supplement for athletes undergoing strength training, as well as power athletes. How does it work? Creatine increases the muscles ability to store creatine phosphate, which is what muscles use to sustain one during bouts of high intensity exercise. This has proven beneficial to runners whom are doing interval training. The other benefit is that creatine enhances the strength of the muscles and this is a lasting effect, which may aid athletes in endurance and long distance sports. Always follow the recommended dosages.



One of the most important supplements for any athlete has to be calcium. It strengthens bones and thereby reduces the risk of stress fractures. Always supplement with a calcium citrate or glyconate that also contains as many of the following in combination: magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, Vitamin D and Vitamin K. All of these aid calcium assimilation, without these calcium cannot be properly absorbed and utilised in the body. If you are experiencing a decrease in bone density strontium in its natural form as strontium citrate, has proven to be effective over a six month period at increasing bone density. It is important to note however that calcium carbonate is not a well absorbed form of calcium, so please supplement with a form that is better assimilated in the body, as per the above paragraph. Always follow the dosage directions.


Don’t forget the fish. According to studies very few athletes eat fish regularly. Yes partly because fish is a brilliant source of lean protein we are mentioning it, but even more importantly it contains omega 3, which breaks down into EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA are the building blocks and the form which our body needs in order to utilise the fats. Omega 3 reduces the risk of exercise induced asthma, but vitally it increases lean body mass. It has the added benefit that it reduces muscle soreness, part of which may be due to its natural anti-inflammatory properties. It is important to note that one cannot just grab the first omega 3 fish oil supplement off the shelf. Even though the total dosage may be 1000 mg of fish oil, it is important to look for one that contains at least 500 mg of DHA and EPA collectively. Always follow the dosage on the bottle.


One of the minerals deficiencies seen most commonly is iron. Do not under estimate its importance. Iron is a necessity for producing haemoglobin, the compound that carries oxygen to the muscles and body. With declining iron levels on begins to experience a drop in energy levels and this negatively affects performance. Particularly at risk are female athletes. Always supplement with the well absorbed and non-constipating form of iron – iron bisglycinate. Always have you iron levels tested before commencing with any iron supplementation to ensure that it is necessary to supplement and follow the recommended dosages. Do not supplement for longer than three month, after three months recheck you levels and only continue supplementation if still necessary. It is advisable to also pair iron supplementation with vitamin C and beta carotene rich foods, as they assist the assimilation of iron.


In addition to this grains such as rice, as well as grain-rich foods including bread, cereals and pastas. It Is important to remember that not all grains are the best in terms of slow burning carbohydrates. The best ones are oat bran, rolled oats, whole-grain pumpernickel bread, whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat spaghetti, brown rice, pearled barley, rye bread, amaranth, as well as a few other wholegrain options. It is important to remember that all pasta must be cooked al dente to retain the low-GI.


Last but not least make sure that your diet contains pulses, legumes and beans. Also remember that fresh fruit and vegetables are also vital to maintaining a balanced and well-rounded diet. And always remember to remain well hydrated!

There are many other supplements out there which have shown potential, not least of which a number of amino acids – the building blocks of protein, including glutamine and carnitine. Before commencing with any supplementation always consult a nutritionist or your trainer to ensure that the level of exercise you are undergoing warrants any changes to your daily intakes of vitamins, minerals, proteins and so forth.



About The Author:
After eight years in the retail side of the health industry, much accumulation of knowledge and information I changed industries completely and gone back to my graphic design roots. I still wish to help inform people on natural alternatives, as well as help people when they are choosing to use natural alternatives to treat disorders, diseases and distresses.
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Posted in: Health by on December 11, 2014 @ 12:52 pm

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