It seems that every time you thumb through a triathlon magazine or wander into the health food section of your local grocery store, there are oodles of new bottles that threaten you with subpar performance unless you swallow a handful of them ASAP. Some of these nutritional supplements work, and some don’t. But ultimately, it’s a good bet that if you’re a triathlete, you probably do have a few pills that you pop. As a sports nutritionist, I get many questions about which supplements to take when, so here’s a brief primer on nutrition supplement timing to help you along. And by the way, don’t worry: your stomach won’t explode, you won’t grow a third arm, and your wattage on the bike won’t go significantly down if you don’t follow these rules. But you might just make some expensive pee as you get less absorption from the supplements that you take.Checkout best greens supplement for more info.
Nutrition Supplement Timing: Multi-Vitamins-Let’s start with one of the most commonly used supplements among both triathletes and the general population. Since most multis contain fat soluble vitamins, they should ideally be consumed with food that contains fat. But don’t drive to buy a Big Mac you can munch on with your multi instead, some whole fat yogurt, nut butter, avocados, olives or fish will do or just about any meal that has a little it of fat. One exception, vitamin B12, is actually best absorbed on an empty stomach – so if you are taking an energy powder or energy drink, which usually contain high doses of B12, you’ll want to use it in the mid-morning or afternoon on an empty stomach, or mid-training session or race.
Nutrition Supplement Timing, fish Oil-Fish oil is proven to be beneficial for a wide range of reasons, but for the same reasons that the fats in a multi-vitamin absorb best when you eat them with a meal, the same goes for fish oil. Just be careful since fiber can “envelope” fat and decrease absorption, don’t eat your fish oil with a huge salad or some other high fiber supplement. Iron absorbs best on an empty stomach, and that absorption can be inhibited by Vitamin E and Calcium. So if you’re using iron, take it some other time of day than your multi-vitamin and fish oil, that you consume with a meal. Don’t worry about the trace amounts of iron in a multi-vitamin not being absorbed if you’re anemic or low iron there’s barely enough in there to do you much good anyways.
Nutrition Supplement Timing: Amino Acids-The whole idea behind using an amino acids supplement is that they’re going to reduce your body’s propensity to dip into it’s own muscle and protein stores for energy during a workout. But many athletes make the error of using an amino acid capsule for post-workout recovery, since we associate it
with “post-workout protein”. But in reality, for the best benefit, you should be popping these before your actual workout.
Nutrition Supplement Timing: Electrolytes & Minerals. Absorption of minerals like calcium and magnesium is enhanced by consuming these with meals, so something like your pre-workout meal is the perfect time for mineral intake. Both calcium and magnesium can also assist with sleep and muscle relaxation, so prior to bed or with dinner, additional magnesium supplementation can also be beneficial. Nutrition Supplement Timing: High-Fiber Supplements. If you use some kind of “greens” supplements, which contains ingredients like psyllium husk, powdered broccoli, spirulina, kelp and inulin, be aware that high fiber in these supplements can slow gastric emptying, and may also cause gas, bloating or some seriously slippery bowel movements. For this reason, their use prior to a workout or race may mean you need to be eating your pre-workout meal 1-2 hours earlier than usual, or tapering down consumption before a big workout or race.