Athletic Performance

Also indexed as:Endurance, Exercise Support, Fitness, Sports Performance, Training
Reach the peak of athletic performance. Take your game to the next level by learning some fitness essentials. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
  • Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
  • Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
  • For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by some in the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.


(Non-Weight Bearing Endurance Exercise)
15 to 20 grams daily for five or six days3 stars[3 stars]
Taking this supplement for five or six days may improve performance of high-intensity, short-duration exercise (like sprinting) or sports with alternating low- and high-intensity efforts.
Vitamin C

(Reducing Pain and Speeding Muscle Strength Recovery after Intense Exercise)
400 mg daily for several days before and after intense exercise3 stars[3 stars]
Taking vitamin C for several days before and after intense exercise may reduce pain and speed muscle strength recovery.
Asian Ginseng

(Endurance Exercise, Muscle Strength)
2 grams of powdered root daily or 200 to 400 mg daily of an herbal extract standardized for 4% ginsenosides2 stars[2 stars]
Some early studies suggested there might be benefits of using Asian ginseng to improve athletic performance. One study reported increased pectoral and quadricep muscle strength in non-exercising men and women after supplementing with the herb.
4 mg per day2 stars[2 stars]
Astaxanthin is a member of the carotenoid family with strong antioxidant properties that might protect against the oxidative stress of exercise.
Casein Protein
Refer to label instructions 2 stars[2 stars]
Casein protein is more slowly digested than other animal proteins, resulting in a slower, prolonged rise in blood levels of amino acids, so some speculate that it may better support protein synthesis by the body compared with proteins like whey protein that are more rapidly digested.

(High-Intensity, Short- to Intermediate-Duration Exercise)
135 to 225 mg per pound of body weight dissolved in two cups of fluid and taken at least one hour before exercise2 stars[2 stars]
Taking sodium citrate may neutralize the acids produced during exercise that may interfere with energy production or muscle contraction. Some studies have found that sodium citrate typically improves short- to intermediate-duration exercise performance.
Coenzyme Q10
Refer to label instructions 2 stars[2 stars]
Strenuous physical activity lowers blood levels of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). A few studies have reported that CoQ10 supplementation benefitted some trained athletes.

(High-Intensity, Short Duration Exercise or Sports with Alternating Low- and High-Intensity Efforts)
15 to 20 grams a day for five or six days2 stars[2 stars]
Supplementing with creatine may improve performance of non-weight bearing endurance exercises such as cycling.

(Improved Strength in Older Men)
100 mg daily2 stars[2 stars]
DHEA is a hormone that is used by the body to make the male sex hormone testosterone. In one double-blind trial, DHEA was effective for improving strength in older men.

(Ultra-Endurance Competition)
Refer to label instructions 2 stars[2 stars]
Athletes participating in several hours of exercise, especially in hot, humid conditions, should use sodium-containing fluids to reduce the risk of performance-diminishing and possibly dangerous declines in blood sodium levels.
Refer to label instructions 2 stars[2 stars]
Eleuthero supplementation may improve athletic performance, according to preliminary research. The herb strengthens the immune system and thus might reduce the risk of post-exercise infection.

(Post-Exercise Infection)
5 grams after exercise, then again two hours later2 stars[2 stars]
The amino acid glutamine may benefit athlete’s immune systems. Double-blind trials giving athletes glutamine reported 81% having no subsequent infection compared with 49% in the placebo group.

(Iron-Deficiency Anemia)
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner2 stars[2 stars]
Iron is a component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen to muscle cells. In cases of iron deficiency, taking iron may restore levels and improve athletic performance.
Nitric Oxide
4 gram three times per day2 stars[2 stars]
It has been speculated that AAKG may increase production of nitric oxide, a substance known to enhance blood flow. In one study, AAKG improved measures of strength and short-term power performance in weight lifters.

(Athletic Performance and Enhanced Endurance)
750 mg daily2 stars[2 stars]
In a study of active young men, supplementation with phosphatidylserine increased the time the men could exercise until exhaustion by approximately 25%.
Fermented milk containing 6.5 billion live Lactobacillus casei Shirota organisms, twice a day for 16 weeks 2 stars[2 stars]
In a double-blind trial, supplementation with a probiotic preparation reduced the frequency of upper respiratory tract infections in training athletes during the winter.

(Improving Body Composition with Strength Training in Untrained People)
Refer to label instructions 2 stars[2 stars]
Three controlled studies of people using a combination of pyruvate and an exercise program reported positive effects on weight loss and body fat.
100 grams of a combination of dihydroxyacetone and pyruvate2 stars[2 stars]
One group of researchers has reported that a combination of dihydroxyacetone and pyruvate enhanced the endurance of certain muscles.

(Post-Exercise Infection)
500 mg twice a day 2 stars[2 stars]
In one study, quercetin lowered the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections in athletes following intensive exercise.

(General Endurance)
200 mg of an herbal extract, standardized to contain 3% rosavin plus 1% salidroside, taken one hour before endurance exercise2 stars[2 stars]
In a double-blind trial, healthy volunteers who received an extract of the herb Rhodiola rosea one hour before an endurance-exercise test saw significantly increased endurance, as measured by the time it took to become exhausted.

(Exercise Recovery)
33 to 40 grams daily2 stars[2 stars]
In one study, elderly men participating in a strength training program who took a supplement containing protein (part of which was soy protein) immediately following exercise saw significant gains in muscle growth and lean body mass.
Tart Cherry

(Reducing Pain and Speeding Muscle Strength Recovery after Intense Exercise)
8–12 ounces twice daily of a tart cherry juice product equivalent to at least 80 mg per day of anthocyanins or 100–120 cherries daily 2 stars[2 stars]
Anthocyanins in tart cherry may support faster muscle recovery in athletes.
Vitamin E

(Exercise Recovery, High-Altitude Exercise Performance)
400 IU daily2 stars[2 stars]
Antioxidants, including vitamin E, neutralize exercise-related free radicals before they can damage the body, so antioxidants may aid in exercise recovery. Vitamin E has been shown to benefit exercise performance at high altitudes.
Whey Protein
20 grams daily up to 1.2 grams of per 2.2 of pounds body weight per day2 stars[2 stars]
Animal studies suggest that whey protein can increase gains in lean body mass resulting from exercise. One study found that people taking whey protein improved their performance on a test of short-term intense cycling exercise.
Alpha Ketoglutarate (AKG)
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
AKG is used by cells during growth and is especially important in healing muscle tissue. It has been speculated that AKG supplements might help improve strength or muscle-mass gains by weight lifters.
American Ginseng
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Asian ginseng has been associated with improved athletic performance, though findings have been inconsistent. Its cousin, American ginseng, was found ineffective at improving endurance exercise performance in untrained people after one week. It is possible that different amounts and durations might affect results.

(Body Composition and Strength)
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
At very high intakes, the amino acid arginine has increased growth hormone levels, which stimulate muscle growth. Trials combining weight training with arginine and ornithine showed decreases in body fat and increases in total strength and lean body mass.
Aspartic Acid
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Aspartic acid is an amino acid that participates in many biochemical reactions relating to energy and protein. Research suggests that it may help reduce fatigue during exercise.
Beta-Sitosterol with Beta-Sitosterol Glucoside

(Post-Exercise Infection)
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Beta-sitosterol, found in many plants, has been shown in one trial to improve immune function in marathon runners when combined with B-sitosterol glucoside. This implies that beta-sitosterol might reduce infections in athletes who engage in intensive exercise.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids

(Post-Exercise Infection at Extreme Temperatures)
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Some research has shown that branched-chain amino acids may support immune fuction and improve infection at high altitudes and prolong endurance performance in the heat.
Chili Peppers
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Capsaicin, a constituent of cayenne, has been shown to reduce pain caused by osteoarthritis and provide relief from chronic low back pain.
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Chromium may play a role in altering body composition. Research has suggested that chromium picolinate might increase fat loss and lean muscle tissue gain when used with a weight-training program.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Conjugated linoleic acid may play a role in reducing body fat. Research has reported that CLA supplementation produces minor gains in muscle size and strength in weight-training men.
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
In one trial a combination of zinc and copper significantly reduced evidence of post-exercise free radical activity.
Deer Antler Extract
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Deer antler base has a long history of use in Chinese medicine, and deer antler extract is being studied to determine its potential as a way to improve athletic performance.
Egg Protein
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]

Egg protein may help build muscle and improve post-exercise recovery in athletes.

Eucalyptus Topical
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Eucalyptus-based rubs have been found to warm muscles in athletes. This suggests that eucalyptus may help relieve minor muscle soreness when applied topically.
Gamma Oryzanol
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Gamma oryzanol is a mixture of sterols and ferulic acid esters. One trial using ferulic acid in trained weight lifters found significantly more weight gain and increased strength compared with placebo.
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Some athletes take guaraná, which contains caffeine, during their training, although there is no scientific research to support this use.
Hemp Protein
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Theoretical considerations and animal studies suggest hemp protein may improve stamina and help athletes recover after exertion.

(Improving Body Composition with Strength Training in Untrained People)
3 grams daily1 star[1 star]
HMB, a breakdown product of an essential branched-chain amino acid, has a role in protein synthesis and might, therefore, improve muscle growth and overall body composition. Research suggests it might be effective only when combined with an exercise program in people who are not already highly trained athletes.
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Kola nut is a caffeine-containing herb sometimes used during athletic training.
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
L-carnitine has been popular as a potential aid in improving athletic performance because of its role in converting fat to energy. Some studies have found that it improves certain measures of muscle physiology.
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Magnesium deficiency can reduce exercise performance and contribute to muscle cramps. Studies suggest that taking magnesium might improve performance, although possibly only for those who are deficient or who are not highly trained athletes.
Medium-Chain Triglycerides
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Medium-chain triglycerides contain a class of fatty acids that are more rapidly absorbed and burned as energy than other fats. For this reason, athletes have been interested in their use, especially during prolonged endurance exercise.
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
The developers of methoxyisoflavone, a member of the flavonoid family, claim that it builds bone and muscle without the side effects seen with hormones. One trial found that athletes who took it reduced their body fat more significantly than those taking placebo.
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Preliminary studies have suggested that octacosanol improves endurance, reaction time, and other measures of exercise capacity.
Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate (OKG) is believed to facilitate muscle growth by enhancing the body’s release of anabolic hormones, but this is based on effects seen in hospitalized and elderly people, not published research.
Pea Protein
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Pea protein may help build muscle and help athletes recover after exercise.
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Ribose is a type of sugar used by the body to make the energy-containing substance adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which gets depleted during intense exercise. Reports have suggested that taking ribose might increase power during short, intense bouts of exercise.
Rice Protein
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Some athletes believe rice protein may also improve blood flow to muscle to enhance growth and repair. However, no research has investigated the effects of rice protein on athletic performance.
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Tribulus terrestris extracts have been reported in preliminary studies to affect anabolic hormones in men, though a double-blind trial found no effect on body composition or strength performance from an eight-week strength training program.
Vitamin B-Complex
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
B-complex vitamins are needed to produce energy from carbohydrates. Exercisers may have slightly increased requirements for some of the B vitamins, including vitamins B2, B6, and B5, athletic performance can suffer if these slightly increased needs are not met.
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Yohimbine has shown an ability to stimulate the nervous system, promote the release of fat from fat cells, and affect the cardiovascular system.
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Exercise depletes zinc, and severe zinc deficiency can compromise muscle function. One trial found that zinc improved muscle strength, and another study of athletes with low zinc levels found that zinc improved red blood cell flexibility during exercise, which could benefit blood flow to the muscles.

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The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2024.

This information was created by Aisle7®, an independent vendor solely responsible for the content on all Aisle7® Health News pages.

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