CrossFitters: The 3 Letters You Need to Know in Supplements

“If you had to choose one supplement to take for performance, what it would be?” I’m frequently asked this concern. Amidst the myriad of details and bro-science out there it is difficult to comprehend which supplements can provide you one of the most value.

CrossFit, the Sport of Physical fitness, is ever developing. Rivals are getting fitter, quicker, and more powerful, and the requirements of competitors are enhancing all the time. Due To The Fact That of this, we require a much better understanding of how to optimize training capacity. As training volume and strength boost, so does our requirement to enhance our nutrition to fuel and recuperate from exercises better. This is where supplements play an important function.

Nutrition for Ideal Efficiency

There are no really necessary supplements. They are called “supplements” for a factor – in basic, they are suggested as an addition your diet plan. They are not suggested to change meals or nutrients that you can receive from entire foods or healthy sources.

I discover it difficult to identify one supplement I would advise for efficiency, so rather I believe in regards to nutrition for optimum efficiency. For this, you have 3 essential locations – pre-workout, post-workout, and intra-workout.

“[I]f you take your CrossFit efficiency seriously, I would highly think about including these 3 essential supplements into your nutrition strategy.

Supplementing properly at these times can have favorable impacts on efficiency consisting of:

  • Increasing work capability
  • Decreasing healing in between rounds, periods, or sets
  • Improving tolerance to volume of training
  • Improving healing in between sessions

I’ve created a list of the 3 primary supplements to take at these essential times, and ranked them in regards to:

  • How well they work (from both individual experience and efficiency in research studies)
  • How well investigated they are
  • How expense efficient they are.

As it ends up, selecting supplements actually is as easy as ABC.

A – Amino Acids

This might simply as quickly have actually been “P” for protein, however then it wouldn’t have actually been as appealing as ABC. Amino acids are the foundation of protein, and protein consumption plays a big function in both body structure and healing from workout.

Supplementing with protein or branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) can assist avoid muscle breakdown throughout workout and has actually been revealed to enhance healing, decline muscle pain, and enhance body structure.1,2

The most typically supplemented amino acid is leucine (a branched chain amino acid that is popular in whey protein powders). Leucine plays a considerable function in structure muscle tissue. It can be discovered in numerous food sources, however is usually discovered in greater concentrations in whey and dairy items, making these perfect to enhance muscle development and repair work.

From an efficiency viewpoint, supplementing with whey protein or amino acids has actually been revealed to: 3,4,5

  • Enhance muscular healing from workout
  • Enhance muscle retention throughout weight-loss
  • Enhance muscle gains when integrated with resistance workout
  • Lower muscle pain and enhanced healing

There have actually likewise been research studies connected with using BCAAs pre-workout to enhance exercise strength and lower levels of tiredness caused by workout.2,6

“Amidst the myriad marketing details and bro-science out there it is difficult to comprehend which supplements can provide you one of the most value.

Whey protein is frequently encouraged to be taken straight after training to enhance healing from sessions. Nevertheless, whey protein might be similarly a good idea pre-training. As it is fast digesting, it allows amino acids to be broken down and released into the blood stream quickly, making the amino acids available for the muscles to use when needed during the session.

BCAA supplementation is equally as versatile, as BCAAs can be beneficial when used pre-training, intra-training, or post-training depending on your goals. BCAA supplementation can prevent muscle breakdown if taken intra-workout and can also prevent catabolism if taken post workout. This can be especially useful if you are on a calorie deficit to lose weight, but do not want to lose muscle mass. 

B – Beta-Alanine

Beta-alanine is referred to as a lactic acid buffer and can prevent the build-up of metabolic by-products that occur at high exercise intensities. Supplementing with beta-alanine can also aid the removal of these by-products from our muscles and the bloodstream when the by-products reach thresholds that start to limit performance.

Beta-alanine works by increasing intramuscular levels of carnosine. Carnosine is released into the bloodstream when our blood levels become more acidic and helps to prevent a build-up of the hydrogen ions (which cause the acidity in the blood) that cause our muscles to burn. So higher levels of carnosine in the blood will prevent, or at least delay the onset of, that burning sensation and allow us to work harder for longer. Beta-alanine has proven to be particularly effective in improving performance and power output in bouts of exercise that last between one and four minutes.7,8

crossfit, crossfit competition, crossfit athlete

Beta-alanine is often prescribed as a pre-workout supplement. But the supplementation of beta-alanine is not time dependant, so it might be taken in dosages throughout the day. The main reason it is taken pre-workout is so it can coincide with creatine supplementation (see below) for added synergistic effects on training performance.

In terms of dosage, beta-alanine is most effective in the 2-5g per day range. Larger doses can cause tingling sensations (a harmless side effect). This can be avoided by breaking up the dosage into smaller servings.

C – Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine is one of the most widely researched sports supplements and has a reputation for improving performance in high intensity exercise (especially interval training).9,10 Creatine can improve performance in any event that requires explosive bursts of power. These short bursts of energy are fueled by our creatine phosphate system, and this energy system is only effective for six to ten seconds of high intensity activity before our creatine stores are depleted. During our recovery periods our creatine stores are replenished.

Supplementing with creatine can help with this process twofold. It can top up our creatine stores, meaning it will take longer for our creatine levels to deplete in the first place, as well as replace the creatine used during the activity more quickly.

“There are no truly essential supplements. They are called ‘supplements’ for a reason – in general, they are meant as an addition your diet.

From a performance standpoint, supplementing with creatine monohydrate translates to: 11

  • Improved strength and power
  • Improved recovery between rounds and sessions
  • Faster sprint times
  • Improved hydration levels
  • Decreased fatigue in training

Most creatine supplementation protocols promote a loading phase that is used for quicker saturation of the cells. After this saturation period, it is common for a dosage of 5g per day to be employed. This saturation can be achieved more simply by taking a dose of between 2-5g both pre- and post-training consistently. Using this latter strategy enables for the synergistic benefits of supplementing alongside beta-alanine (pre) and whey protein (post) to improve performance and recovery further.

Benefits for Any CrossFitter

This is by no means is not a comprehensive list or what I would recommend to everyone. However, if you take your CrossFit performance seriously, I would strongly consider adding these three key supplements into your nutrition plan.

Check out these related articles:


1. Bigard AX, Lavier P, Ullmann L, Legrand H, Douce P, Guezennec CY. – Branched-chain amino acid supplementation throughout repeated prolonged skiing exercises at altitude. Int J Sport Nutr. 1996 Sep;6(3):295-306.

2. Shimizu M, Miyagawa K, Iwashita S, Noda T, Hamada K, Genno H, Nose H. – Energy expenditure during 2-day trail walking in the mountains (2,857 m) and the effects of amino acid supplements in older men and women. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012 Mar;112(3):1077-86. doi: 10.1007/s00421-011-2057-2. Epub 2011 Jul 9.

3. Hoffman JR, Ratamess NA, Tranchina CP, Rashti SL, Kang J, Faigenbaum AD. – Effect of protein-supplement timing on strength, power, and body-composition changes in resistance-trained men. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2009 Apr;19(2):172-85.

4. Kerksick CM, Rasmussen CJ, Lancaster SL, Magu B, Smith P, Melton C, Greenwood M, Almada AL, Earnest CP, Kreider RB. – The effects of protein and amino acid supplements on performance and training adaptations during ten weeks of resistance training. J Strength Cond Res. 2006 Aug;20(3):643-53.

5. Andersen LL, Tufekovic G, Zebis MK, Crameri RM, Verlaan G, Kjaer M, Suetta C, Magnusson P, Aagaard P. – The effect of resistance training combined with timed ingestion of protein on muscle fiber size and muscle strength. Metabolism. 2005 Feb;54(2):151-6.

6. Blomstrand E, Hassmén P, Ek S, Ekblom B, Newsholme EA. – Influence of ingesting a solution of branched-chain amino acids on perceived exertion during workout. Acta Physiol Scand. 1997 Jan;159(1):41-9.

7. Zoeller RF, Stout JR, O’kroy JA, Torok DJ, Mielke M. – Effects of 28 days of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on aerobic power, ventilatory and lactate limits, and time to exhaustion. Amino Acids. 2007 Sep;33(3):505-10. Epub 2006 Sep 5.

8. Stout JR, Cramer JT, Zoeller RF, Torok D, Costa P, Hoffman JR, Harris RC, O’Kroy J. – Effects of beta-alanine supplementation on the onset of neuromuscular fatigue and ventilatory threshold in women. Amino Acids. 2007;32(3):381-6. Epub 2006 Nov 30.

9. Graef JL, Smith AE, Kendall KL, Fukuda DH, Moon JR, Beck TW, Cramer JT, Stout JR. – The effects of four weeks of creatine supplementation and high-intensity interval training on cardiorespiratory fitness: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2009 Nov 12;6:18. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-6-18.

10. Juhász I, Györe I, Csende Z, Rácz L, Tihanyi J. – Creatine supplementation improves the anaerobic efficiency of elite junior fin swimmers. Acta Physiol Hung. 2009 Sep;96(3):325-36. doi: 10.1556/APhysiol.96.2009.3.6.

11. Kendall KL, Smith AE, Graef JL, Fukuda DH, Moon JR, Beck TW, Cramer JT, Stout JR. – Effects of 4 weeks of high-intensity interval training and creatine supplements on critical power and anaerobic working capacity in college-aged men. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Sep;23(6):1663-9. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181b1fd1f.

Photos 1 and 3 courtesy of CrossFit Los Angeles.

Photo 2 courtesy of Shutterstock.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long included to this report.