Ever dip a toe into the world of sports nutrition? With thousands (nay, millions!) of brands and products to choose from, it can be as intimidating as stepping a trainer-clad foot into the weight room or CrossFit box for the very first time.
That’s why we asked 8 trainers and athletes give us a peak at their sports nutrition stack. Below, they share the protein powders and bars, vitamins and minerals, and more that they use every single day. Supplement like a fitness professional by stocking up on their tried-and-true faves.
Arguably the most ~in vogue~ supplement of the last half-decade, collage protein powder is celebrated for its recovery-promoting, skin-beautifying, and gut-healing benefits. And those are exactly the reasons certified strength and conditioning expert Lauren Lobert, DPT, OMPT, CSCS and owner of APEX Physical Therapy takes it every day.
“Collagen is great for helping my muscles recover after a hard workout, preventing injury, and helping to ease some of my post-workout muscle soreness,” she says. Research backs this up, too. One study published in the journal Current Medical Research and Opinion, for instance, found that collagen supplementation was effective at reducing joint pain among college athletes.
As a bonus, she says, “Supplementing with collagen has been great for my skin, hair and nails.” *Insert hair flip emoji*.
If you really want to see your hard work at the gym pay off, you have to eat to support muscle repair and growth. And that means getting an adequate amount of protein post-pump. While personal trainer Franklin Antoian Founder or iBodyFit and author of The Fit Executive loves to nosh on protein-rich foods like eggs, sausage, and chicken breast, he doesn’t always have time to whip up a full meal after getting his sweat on.
“I use protein bars when I’m on the run and need something quick to replenish after a workout,” he says. #Relatable.
Product recommendation: Whole Bar Cashew Coconut Bar, $34.97/Box of 12
Whey Protein Powder
If you love to drink your food, or are a firm believer that all protein bars taste like cardboard, take a page from CrossFit coach and personal trainer USA Powerlifting Coach Kyra Williams’s playbook and make yourself a whey protein shake within 30 minutes after finishing your workout—which research shows is the most optimal refueling window for muscle growth and recovery.
William’s opts for whey protein over other the gazillion other types of protein powders because, “It digests quickly and gets absorbed into the bloodstream quickly, which means my muscles are able to begin rebuilding themselves as soon as possible,” she says. On your marks, get set, gains!
Product recommendation: RSP Whey Cookies and Cream Protein, $44.97/5 Pounds
Daily Pepto-chuggers to the front. It’s time to consider taking a daily probiotic. Thanks to the buzz around kombucha and kimchi you probably already know what probiotics are. If not, Williams offers this refresher: “A probiotic contains living organisms that when ingested can help aid in digestion, reduce bloating, and decrease instances of diarrhea.” In and out of the gym, that means less time sprinting to the bathroom and more time sprinting, working, and relaxing.
Probiotics are also thought to support the immune system, says Williams. Pretty hard to work towards your fitness goals when you’re fighting a cold, no? So whether you’re interested in supporting your gut or general health they could be worth a shot.
Product recommendation: TrueFit GrassFed Protein Powder With Probiotics, $39.97/ 20 Servings
Plant-Based Protein Powder
Always feel like you’re racing the clock in the morning? Danielle DeAngelo, Co-Founder of Jane Do, a Rockettes-inspired fitness studio located in New Jersey, relates. “Running a business means running out of time. And running out of time to make breakfast,” she says.
That’s why for a protein-rich morning meal she whips up a shake with plant-based protein powder, cashew butter, oat milk, and some spices. “It’s filling and keeps me satisfied for a few hours until I have time to eat a healthy meal,” she says.
And FYI: Vegans aren’t the only folks who can benefit from a plant-based protein powder. Anyone with a sensitive digestive system who finds the lactose in whey protein powder irritating can, too.
Tart Cherry Juice
Cherries may taste best atop ice cream and fudge. But did you know it’s possible to buy and eat them in juice form? It’s true. And according to certified strength and conditioning specialist Dr. Allen Conrad, BS, DC, CSCS of Montgomery County Chiropractic Center in Pennsylvania, we should all be drinking 10 ounces of the stuff after a workout.
“Tart cherry prevents inflammation and muscle damage when consumed after exercise,” he says, pointing to a study published in the Scandinavia Journal of Sports Science. In the study, researchers found that tart cherry juice was more effective promoting recovery after strenuous exercise compared to the placebo, due its high antioxidant content. “Sip it to and you’ll be able to return to working out as fast as possible,” he says. Sold!
We primarily get Vitamin D through the sun, which is why it’s dubbed the sunshine vitamin. But during the winter months many of us don’t get enough of the essential-to-our-health-and-happiness nutrient—in fact data suggests approximately 40 percent of the U.S. population is deficient. That’s why Jacey Lambros Co-Founder of Jane Do takes what she calls “sunshine in a bottle” every single day.
In addition to being good for bone health and helping regulating calcium levels, Lambros says she notices mood-boosting benefits when she takes Vitamin D, which science suggests is very possible.
Another perk of vitamin supplementation, according to one study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism is boosted athletic performance. Gains and grins? How’s that for a win-win.
Cod Liver Oil
A specific type of fish oil, cod liver oil might sound gross, but the list of health benefits associated with the ingredient is steep. NASM-certified personal trainer Reece Mander Fitness who takes a cod liver supplement every day explains, cod liver oil is incredibly anti-inflammatory.
“It also chocked-full of vitamins A and D which are essential for immune function and gut health, and Vitamin E which is essential in fighting cancer,” she says. Pretty convincing, right? Don’t worry, it doesn’t taste like fish going down.
Ah, CBD. The buzzy wellness ingredient of the moment. Many people, athletes notwithstanding, find the product a little confusing. So here’s a recap: CBD, short for cannabidiol, is the non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. Research is still emerging, but current data suggests that ingesting CBD support overall well-being, and promote heart health, immune response, and sleep quality.
It’s also thought to reduce muscle soreness, which why CrossFit Coach Ian Berger CF-L2 takes it every night before bed. “When I take it, I wake up feeling better recovered than when I don’t take it.” And that means he’s better-suited to bringing his A-game.