What's Sup?! The ABCs of Supplements for the CrossFit Athlete

Real food provides the best source of vitamins, minerals, and energy no matter what your goals are so start with a clean diet. We also strongly recommend speaking to a health-care professional before you add supplements to your daily routine.

With that said here are some of our favorite performance and recovery boosters. Recovery is just as important your workout itself.


Acetyl-L-carnitine is a frequently-depleted enzyme that plays a critical role in the Krebs cycle, which powers everything in your body by converting food into energy. Studies have shown supplementing with carnitine may improve your performance and speed recovery from strenuous workouts.

B vitamins

Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B-6, biotin, folic acid, and B-12—play an important role in the body’s process of converting protein and sugar to energy as well as the repair and production of cells. A study conducted at Oregon State University and published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found athletes and other active people who lack B vitamins may not perform as well during high intensity exercise and have a decreased ability to repair and build muscle compared to those with nutrient-rich diets.


Whether you're a CrossFit athlete or not, you're wise to make branched-chain amino acids  (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) a part of your supplement stack. Sipping on BCAAs before or during workouts can help speed up the recovery and repair processes. Leucine, one of the BCAAs is useful because it promotes protein synthesis and suppresses protein breakdown, an important factor in preventing muscle damage during training. Last but not least, BCAAs can reduce soreness and fatigue.


The high-intensity movements that make up CrossFit workouts create a buildup of hydrogen ions, which get in the way of muscle contraction and cause you to feel fatigued. They suggest supplementing with beta-alanine, an amino acid that helps your body produce carnosine. Carnosine can eliminate excess hydrogen ions in your body, and research indicates it may boost performance in the process.


Creatine is one of the most scientifically proven supplements available. Naturally produced in your body. The supplement works by increasing the amount of phosphocreatine (PCr) stored in your muscles. PCr is used by the body to produce energy. Research shows creatine improves strength, increases lean body mass, and enhances performance. In one study, participants who took creatine while following a weight-training program for ten weeks increased their one-rep squat max by 25% compared to a placebo group. While creatine may not be effective for endurance aerobic exercise, the Mayo Clinic says it’s beneficial for short bursts of intense exercise (like CrossFit).

Vitamin D

With our lifestyles working in offices or indoors, we do not receive sufficient sunlight to produce the required levels of vitamin D. Overall, vitamin D is a key component to reduce inflammation, improve your mood, and better your respiratory health. Vitamin D also helps us sleep better, as it allows the brain to release melatonin, letting us know it’s time to rest after a big day.

Magnesium is a key supplement for the athlete, although often overlooked. It’s the one mineral the athlete is likely deficient in which could improve with supplementation. Magnesium is key as it helps regulate your heart, manages the contraction and relaxation of your muscles, reduces blood pressure, and plays an important role in the production of ATP, the main source of energy.

Omega 3/Fish Oil

There’s a reason fish oil is on the list. Not only are the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil important for cardiovascular and neurological health, they may help you recover more quickly after workouts, increase muscle mass, and more. The anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3s can speed healing of the microscopic tears that lead to bigger muscles. They may also alleviate post-workout soreness. In a study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, subjects who were given omega-3 supplements before exercising reported less soreness and better range of motion 48 hours later compared to placebo and control groups.

Whey Protein

When any athlete thinks of supplements, whey protein is often the first that comes to mind. A staple in every athlete’s gym bag should be a high-quality whey protein. Designed to digest quickly and aid muscle recovery, whey protein taken within 10 minutes of training reduces the amount of stress hormones and cortisol that is released.

Posted on January 26, 2019 .