There’s no doubt about it, a serious athlete needs to know how to fuel their body to excel in their chosen sport. In fact, it’s one of the most common requests that a sports dietitian hears. After all, a smart eating plan and sensible supplementation can give a talented athlete the competitive edge they need to transform into a celebrated champion.
Just as important, however, is an athlete’s ability to stay healthy enough to properly train (and recover) … day in and day out. That starts with a strong immune system. Yet, athletes often overlook this critical part of their training diets. To help them focus, sports dietitians typically recommend specific nutrient goals. Supplement manufacturers that understand these goals are perfectly positioned to develop products to fill this need.
What do sports dietitians recommend to help ensure athletes can train hard and recover fast? Here’s a breakdown of six key immune-boosting goals designed specifically for athletes, and how supplements can help:
Goal #1: Consume carbohydrate before, during, and after long training sessions.
Supplements that address this need can help counteract the suppressive effect of exercise on immune function. Compact, ready-to-take delivery forms such as shots or gels are a plus, especially for runners, cyclists and other athletes who need to carry their fuel while training.
Goal #2: Consume enough antioxidants daily to combat oxidative stress.
Colorful fruits and vegetables are a dietitian’s go-to recommendation here, but it can be tough for an athlete to consume enough every day to meet the increased demands of intense training. Supplements that offer fruit or vegetable powders rich in antioxidant nutrients and polyphenols are a great way to help fill the gap.
Goal #3: Consume enough protein, iron and zinc to support immune function.
Of course, protein supplements are a mainstay of sports nutrition, but supplements that help ensure an adequate intake of iron and zinc are often overlooked. These minerals are just as critical for immune health. Yet for many athletes, especially endurance athletes, vegetarians and female athletes, it can be a challenge to consume enough from food alone.
Goal #4: Consume enough omega-3 fatty acids.
Supplements with high-quality omega-3s deliver potent anti-inflammatory benefits, which are especially beneficial for an athlete. Be sure an omega-3 supplement is part of your sports nutrition product line.
Goal #5: Get enough vitamin D.
Supplements that provide vitamin D support optimal immune function, yet most people – athletes and non-athletes alike – tend to be deficient.
Goal #6: Consume enough probiotics.
Probiotics can help bring balance to the gut microflora and boost an athlete’s immune defenses. Supplements that make a sports dietitian’s list of preferred brands deliver well-researched strains in amounts clinically shown to support immune health.
When you develop supplements for athletes, keep these immune-health goals in mind. If you do, your products are sure to catch the attention of sports dietitians, coaches and athletes alike.