We subscribe to a food-first approach to nutrition: eat well, and your body will find much of what it needs to rebuild and recover. But the reality is, the life of the modern-day athlete is quite polarized, from extremely stationary (working, commuting) to extremely intense (hard training sessions, big days in the mountains). That kind of concentration of metabolic and tissue stress is new in human history, and our bodies are not well adapted to handle the intensity of dedicated training.
When your training goes into hyperdrive, your recovery needs to, as well, and that’s where specialized nutritional supplements can come into play.
The supplement industry is poorly regulated and mostly full of garbage, unfortunately. The first thing to do is to lock in with a brand you can trust—real athletes producing real fuel for real performance.
For us, that brand is Momentous. We know the athletes behind the company (two of them are Olympic-level athletes), we work with their development team, and we trust the third-party certification process (NSF).
This isn’t an ad or a sponsored post. We recognize there are other good, honest brands out there. This is just the one we have chosen and we feel great about the decision.
Three Supplements We Use
Whey protein will contribute to enhanced strength and muscle growth in athletes when used shortly after intense bouts of strength training (within an hour).
That doesn’t mean consuming large amounts of whey on a regular basis is healthy, good for the planet, or necessary for high performance. We do think it makes sense for athletes who are doing max strength work, but we don’t think it is necessary after every workout. We use it judiciously when the workload demands it.
2. Creatine—Creatine is probably the most studied supplement of all time. Creatine forms a fuel source for the body’s most explosive efforts. When you make maximum efforts (either under heavy load, or at max speed) your body relies on the phosphocreatine (PCr) engine. This is simply because it is the most readily available and therefore most powerful energy source available.
In our view creatine supplementation makes the most sense for intense efforts lasting less than 10 seconds, like explosive and max strength work, and it’s not essential for endurance performance.
If you consume a diet low in red meat, creatine supplementation may be even more valuable for top end performance.
3. Collagen Peptides—Collagen is primarily used to repair the collagen structures in the body. This includes everything from hair, skin, and nails, to ligaments, bones, fascia, and tendons.
Collagen supplementation shows the weakest results in studies out of these three supplements, perhaps because it is harder to measure tendon and ligament growth, but meta-analyses do show favorable results for skin health. That is likely a good indicator of similar results in other collagen-based structures in the body.
For post-operative athletes and athletes struggling with tendinopathies, collagen supplementation makes sense.
Another Reason to Consider Supplements:
The quality of our food sources should also be a concern to us. We live a long way from the land that provides our food these days, and food supply (organic or not) relies on a few global corporations that are probably not terribly concerned about biodiversity and human health. Could that leave us deficient in certain essential nutrients, and lacking in what it takes to perform at the highest level? Yes, it probably could.
So while we think food-first makes sense, it also makes sense to be realistic about the limitations of our food supply, and the needs of our body when we push ourselves to the extreme.