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Should I Take Supplements When Doing Cardio?

Within the fitness industry, the supplements business is booming. People who want to push their bodies to perform their absolute best often can’t rely on their diets alone to provide them with all of the nutrients and minerals they need, making supplements an essential part of many fitness regimes. 

When you think of supplements, you might, however, only think about the supplements needed for weight training. Protein has long been associated with muscle gains, and pre-workouts are thought to help power people through heavy lifting sessions. But what about cardio? Many people assume that supplements aren’t needed for exercises such as running or cycling, but is this the case? 

Why would you need supplements for cardio workouts?

If you’re heading out on a quick jog around your local park or hitting a spin class at the gym, the chances are that you’ll be able to complete this amount of exercise without the need for any supplements. Many people choose to perform light cardio before eating anything, or find that a small snack such as a banana gives them the energy that they need. 

If, however, you’re looking at a much more intense form of cardio then it makes sense that you might need additional support. Endurance exercises such as long distance running, swimming or cycling require a lot of energy, and also put enormous strain on your body. The main reasons that people take supplements for cardio workouts are: 

  • For increased energy before or during an endurance workout
  • To maintain mental focus, especially during long runs or rides
  • To strengthen muscles, which is essential for any inclines or tricky terrains
  • For recovery after a workout, so they can continue with their next training sessions as soon as possible

Interestingly, some of the reasons for taking supplements for cardio are the same as those for weight training. This is because muscle is also an essential part of many cardio exercises, and so helping to build lean muscle and improving recovery will have a direct impact on cardio performance. 

What supplements are recommended for cardio training? 

Carbohydrates

Carbs are our bodies’ main energy source, and so it makes sense that we need to ensure we have adequate stores to get us through endurance events. Many people will ‘carb load’ the night before a long run, swim or bike ride, and also think carefully about what they eat in the hours preceding the event. However, this isn’t always enough. 

Carbohydrate supplements can be beneficial to keep you going during long periods of exercise, which is why things such as energy gels and bars are popular with marathon runners or triathletes. 

Caffeine

Caffeine is a popular supplement choice for people who want an increased burst of physical energy, as well as an improvement in mental focus. One of the biggest challenges for endurance athletes can be staying motivated during long events, and so anything that can give a ‘boost’ of energy is often welcome. 

Many people choose to take caffeine tablets or drink coffee before runs, while others will also consume gels with caffeine in during their workouts. 

Electrolytes

Electrolytes are minerals in our body that help with a number of different functions important for cardio, including preventing muscle cramping and dehydration. We naturally lose electrolytes when we sweat, which is obviously a main side effect of cardio sessions. Replacing lost electrolytes is therefore key for overcoming fatigue and physical cramping, and many runners and cyclists choose to keep on top of this process during their exercises with sports drinks. 

At Endo Sport, our drinks are ideal for hydration both during and after heavy cardio sessions. As well as replacing lost electrolytes, they also have the added benefits of containing CBD oil. 

CBD

A relative newcomer to the world of fitness supplements, CBD – or cannabidiol – is increasingly being used by athletes from both the weight training and cardio worlds. Unlike many of the other supplements in this list that are mainly taken before a workout, CBD oil is more beneficial as a post-workout supplement. This is because it is thought to help athletes in a range of ways, including: 

  • Pain relief
  • Anti-inflammation
  • Stress management 
  • Better sleep and recovery

Our Endo Sport drinks are the first in the UK to contain CBD as well as all of the other great ingredients you would expect. This means you get the instant benefits from the carbs and electrolytes, as well as the longer lasting effects of the CBD to aid in your post-workout recovery. 

Protein

As mentioned, protein has long been associated with weight lifting and building muscle. However, intense cardio sessions can have the same impact on our muscles as lifting weights, and so repairing this damage with protein is highly recommended. For many cardio exercising, building lean muscle is also essential – swimming, cycling and even hiking are all powered by stronger muscles. 

How do people take supplements for cardio?

As with weight training, there are a range of ways that people can take supplements for cardio, and different times that they can do so. 

Pre-Workout 

There are many pre-workout powders on the market designed to give athletes the fuel they need to get through intense cardio sessions. While single-supplement products are available, a lot of these contain a mix of supplements such as caffeine and creatine. Often the results of pre-workouts will only last for a short while, which is why many people doing long distance or endurance workouts will also include supplements during their exercise. 

During

Supplements that can be taken on-the-go are popular with runners and cyclists. Products such as energy gels and sports drinks can be easily carried, and can deliver a much-needed boost of energy when fatigue starts to kick in. 

Post-Workout

After a long bout of cardio, the main job of supplements is to replenish energy stores and electrolytes that were used and lost during the workout. It’s also important to consider supplements that can aid in recovery, which is where CBD can play an important role by reducing inflammation and soothing aches and pains. Visit our blog post to find out more about CBD and sports recovery.

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