6 Key Ingredients To Fitness Success
That high after finishing a boxing class? Best Feeling Ever. But that niggling knee pain the next day? Not so great. Working out does great things for both your physical and mental wellbeing, but if you hit the gym on a regular basis, you need extra nutritional support.
Exercise increases our need for a range of nutrients, particularly antioxidants. When we train hard, we take in more oxygen, meaning our body is exposed to more free radicals (the nasties that cause aging and oxidative damage.) The harder and longer you train, the more antioxidants you need.
Training also places a heavy load on our muscles and joints, so it’s important to give them the right nutrients to avoid wear and tear. And of course, getting through that 6 am spin class takes a lot of energy, so you need nutrients that help boost energy production.
Signs you might need extra nutritional support? Muscle cramps, spasms, joint pain, poor immunity and low energy levels are classic signs of a need for additional nutrition.
Here are our top six essential nutrients for gym bunnies and athletes:
1. The Spark Plug: Ubiquinol
Feeling wiped out after that training run? Reach for the CoQ10. CoQ10 is a naturally-occurring compound found in every body cell, where it plays a vital role in ATP synthesis (or more simply energy production). Found in large concentration in hard-working organs like the heart and lungs, CoQ10 is also a potent antioxidant.
Increasing your intake of CoQ10 may help boost energy levels and reduce fatigue from a heavy training schedule. Its antioxidant properties can help fight free radical damage, and manage the increased levels of inflammation created by exercise.
Older athletes can particularly benefit from increasing their intake of CoQ10. Our CoQ10 levels decline naturally as we age (by the time we reach 40, our CoQ10 levels are half what they were at 20), so supplemental CoQ10 may help boost energy levels and enhance recovery for older athletes.
Xtend-Life’s Omega 3 / QH Ultra fish oil contains Kaneka QH Ubiquinol which is the same form of CoQ10 that is naturally produced by the body – making it highly bioavailable.
2. The Joint Healer: Green-Lipped Mussel
Sore knees after work out? New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel can help.
Over time, exercise can cause wear and tear on joints, leading to pain and stiffness. New Zealand native GreenLipped Mussels (Perna canaliculus) contain naturally occurring proteins, minerals, carbohydrates and omega 3 fatty acids that can help relieve pain and inflammation and improve joint mobility.
The active ingredients in Green Lipped Mussel work in three ways to support healthy joints:
- Mucopolysaccharides (or MPS) support healthy elasticity within connective tissue and maintain supple, healthy joints.
- Chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine help rebuild and maintain healthy cartilage for natural shock absorbing support within the joints.
- Omega 3 fatty acids help relieve inflammation.
Green Lipped Mussels caught the attention of scientists and researchers when it was discovered that the Maori elders could perform even the most rigorous of physical tasks. Their strength and mobility were attributed to Green Lipped Mussels, which made up an important part of the traditional Maori diet.
Demonstrating the efficacy of Green Lipped Mussel to support joint health, patients with osteoarthritis who took a GreenLipped Mussel supplement for 12 weeks noticed an incredible 89% reduction in pain.
3. The sweetest way to boost your energy levels: Bee Pollen
A heavy training schedule increases your need for nutrients. Adding a little bee pollen to your daily routine is a simple way to boost your nutrition, increase your energy levels and enhance recovery.
Bee pollen is the pollen from flowers that is collected by bees and then mixed with honey and other secretions to form granules. It also happens to be one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, containing a wide range of vitamins, minerals and enzymes, as well as antioxidants to fight free radical damage. Native cultures worldwide have used bee pollen as part of their daily nutrition for centuries, as well as a survival food due to its high concentration of nutrients.
Bee pollen is particularly beneficial for athletes due to its anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to manage the increased inflammation created by exercise. At up to 60 percent protein, it’s also a useful source of amino acids for muscle repair and recovery.
Xtend-Life’s Natural Energy Supplement is a convenient way to incorporate bee pollen into your diet. Ideal for those who dislike synthetic supplements, it delivers a complex range of nutrients in a 100% natural form. Natural Energy contains bee pollen sourced from hives in a pristine national park in Canterbury New Zealand, meaning it is free from the environmental or industrial pollutants found in many brands.
4. Nature’s Powerhouse: Spirulina
Want to supercharge your workouts? Spirulina will give you the edge you’re after. This blue-green algae is arguably the most nutrient-dense food on the planet, containing a plethora of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to boost energy levels, enhance performance and support your recovery. Containing all 22 amino acids, it’s a complete source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.
But perhaps spirulina’s most important benefit is its alkalizing properties. The modern diet, high in sugar, meat and carbohydrates, is highly acidic which can lead to a range of health impacts over time, including poor bone density, inflammation and even some forms of cancer. Green foods like spirulina help alkalize the blood, reducing this chronic state of low-level acidosis.
High in antioxidants, spirulina also helps counteract the increased oxidative damage and inflammation created by exercise, as well as boosting the immune system.
A simple way to include spirulina and other alkalizing greens in your diet.Shop now
Whip up a green smoothie for breakfast or as a post-workout snack to quickly boost your nutrient intake and help you reach those fitness goals.
5. The muscle relaxant: Magnesium
Troubled by muscle cramps and spasms? Time to top up your magnesium levels.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, including energy production and protein synthesis. But one of the most important things it does is work with calcium to contract and relax muscle tissue – an essential function during exercise. Without enough magnesium, it’s common to experience muscle cramps and spasms.
We need large amounts of magnesium (approx. 310mg a day for women, 400mg for men), but it’s difficult to get the levels we need through our diet. Exercise increases our need for magnesium, as does caffeine, alcohol and stress, so it’s not surprising magnesium is one of the most common deficiencies in adults. If you think you might be lacking magnesium, look out for the following signs: twitching eyes, anxiety, insomnia (especially if you wake frequently during the night or have trouble staying asleep), constipation and headaches – as well as those cramps and spasms.
For those who exercise regularly, a magnesium supplement is highly recommended. A simple way to increase your magnesium intake is to supplement with Total Balance. Total Balance provides magnesium as highly absorbable Aquamin Magnesium™ (Magnesium Hydroxide from Sea Water), calcium magnesium inositol hexaphosphate, and magnesium stearate.
6. The Immune booster: Kiwi-fruit extract
While moderate exercise boosts immunity, a very heavy training regime can weaken the immune system, leaving you more likely to pick up colds and flus. It’s important to schedule sufficient recovery time into your training schedule to allow your body to rest and recuperate. If you’re training for a long or intense event such as marathon or triathlon, you should talk to a trainer or exercise professional to ensure you are including enough recovery periods.
If you’re still struggling to keep the bugs at bay, you may need to look at strengthening your immune system. Including more kiwifruit in your diet is an easy way to naturally boost your immunity. This green super-fruit works in two ways to support immune system function:
- It’s packed with Vitamin C, which helps enhance white blood cell activity and increase production of interferon, a key immune system chemical.
- It helps promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, which is essential for a healthy immune system. Over 70% of our immune system is contained within our digestive system.
The last word
Exercise is fantastic for both physical and mental wellbeing, but it does increase your need for nutrients and antioxidants. To get the most out of your workouts, and ensure you keep reaching your fitness goals, make sure you refuel your body with the right nutrients.
 Zawadzki, M. Janosch, C. and Szechinski, J. Perna canaliculus Lipid Complex PCSO-524™ Demonstrated Pain Relief for Osteoarthritis Patients Benchmarked against Fish Oil, a Randomized Trial, without Placebo Control.” Marine Drugs: June 2013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3721214/
 Dr Axe. Bee Pollen. https://draxe.com/bee-pollen/
 Leech, J. 10 Proven Health Benefits of Spirulina. June, 2017. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-spirulina#section2
 June 23, 2017. Get the most out of your workout https://www.health2000.co.nz/blog/sport-fitness/get-the-most-out-of-your-workout
 D. L. Bilbey and V. M. Prabhakaran. Muscle cramps and magnesium deficiency: case reports. Can Fam Physician. 1996 Jul; 42: 1348–1351. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2146789/
Kim, Y et al. Vitamin C Is an Essential Factor on the Anti-viral Immune Responses through the Production of Interferon-α/β at the Initial Stage of Influenza A Virus (H3N2) Infection. Immune Netw. 2013 Apr;13(2):70-4. Epub 2013 Apr 30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23700397