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10 Best Supplements for Endurance Runners

10 Best Supplements for Endurance Runners

Written by Isabel Mayfield | Fact checked by Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Last update: May 8, 2023
12 min

Running can be a challenging exercise to perform. There are supplements that could increase your mental and physical strength, but how do they work? We provide the 10 best supplements for endurance runners, including the benefits of taking each one.

best supplements for endurance runners

There comes a time when you’ll want to boost your stamina and performance.

Running is a tough exercise to perform all the time, but there are ways to improve your long-term endurance. Some people choose to take supplements focusing on energy levels, and others might choose vitamins to boost leg muscle growth.

So, if this is something you wish to achieve, don’t look in magazines for the answers. The wellness industry can fool people into buying fake supplement ads. This is why we created an article detailing the best supplements for running endurance and how they actually work.

Keep on reading to find the top 10 supplements.

Is It Possible to Increase Running Endurance With Supplements? 

Yes, you can boost your performance when taking the right supplement, so it’s important to find something that works for your fitness goals. Some endurance athletes focus on their daily diet supplementation to ensure they’re capable of long-distance running. 

People need a balanced diet when enhancing their exercise performance. Getting enough nutrition every day can promote faster recovery, making running less challenging. However, not everyone has time to make a nutrient-dense meal, which leads to the benefits of supplements.

There are certain supplements for runners that target endurance training. For example, protein helps maintain muscle mass, but it could also give your leg muscles that extra strength. More energy means you can run long distances and not feel like the finish line is hard to reach. 

Green tea is another common supplement used in endurance sports. The caffeine content may increase your fat metabolism, encouraging the body to burn fat for energy. Of course, this is great for people who want to lose stubborn weight, especially if they’re running regularly. 

Anyone can take a supplement when they need to during the day. Most runners aim to get an adequate intake of their vitamins before going on a big run. However, taking supplements won’t increase your endurance alone, so you need to build up your fitness level every day.

Supplements do unique things and might not work for everyone. You should find a dietary regime that enables you to get proper nutrition. Remember that running supplements never replace food, so always make meals containing vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.

10 Best Supplements for Increasing Running Endurance 

There are many supplements you can choose to improve exercise performance. The choice depends on your long-term goals and how far you like to run. For example, you may go for a recovery supplement, like protein, or a caffeine-based extract to boost your energy levels.

Below, you’ll find a summary of the supplements we’ll talk about. 

  • Beta-alanine 
  • Caffeine 
  • Magnesium and calcium 
  • Protein
  • Iron
  • Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)
  • Vitamins B6 and B12
  • Beetroot extract
  • Green tea leaf extract
  • Vitamins D and C

#1 Beta-alanine 

Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that can improve muscle endurance. This type of acid forms naturally in the body and supports carnosine. Both of these components may reduce muscle fatigue, boost running performance, and support muscle recovery after intense runs. 

Some studies show how beta-alanine increases time to exhaustion (TTE) in long-distance runners. People can run for longer and boost their time by 13% after 4 weeks of supplementation. Taking beta-alanine for 10 weeks could add an extra 3.2% to their TTE. 

Taking this supplement for three weeks might also grow lean muscle mass. In the long term, this will improve body composition by encouraging strong muscle growth. Just be aware that beta-alanine won’t make you lose weight, as it mainly focuses on reducing muscle soreness.

You can take beta-alanine supplements, but there are also foods you can eat. For example, chicken, salmon, pork, tuna, and beef contain some of this amino acid. The recommended dosage is 2–3 grams daily, depending on how much you exercise and strain your muscles.

#2 Caffeine 

Caffeine has been known to boost endurance performance for runners. Some endurance athletes take this supplement 30–60 minutes before competitive races. The natural compound stimulates the nervous system, which regulates arterial blood pressure and blood flow.

One big study discovered that people had better endurance after consuming 1.4–2.7mg of natural caffeine per pound of body weight. This means they can complete long-distance running without feeling tired, leading to an overall improved athletic performance in the long term. 

Another great benefit of caffeine is that it boosts your hormone levels. For example, it might increase epinephrine – the adrenaline hormone that naturally strengthens endurance performance. Your “fight or flight” response encourages you to reach that dreaded finish line.

People who want to lose weight running may also enjoy caffeine supplements. Caffeine might be the key to a fast metabolism. A small dosage can increase thermogenesis – a process that raises your core temperature and targets the metabolic rate, which burns more calories. 

The average dosage before working out is 200–400mg. However, some people can have up to 600–900mg, depending on their weight. You should always start with a low dose before running every day, as some people experience side effects like headaches and serious constipation.

#3 Magnesium and calcium 

Magnesium and calcium are two electrolytes that can support prolonged exercise.

You could take magnesium supplements to gain better leg strength. This electrolyte will reduce muscle soreness and encourage runners to run a few extra miles. Of course, the main benefit of magnesium is that it regulates muscle contraction – a process that keeps your muscles strong.

Calcium is a very important mineral for your bones. Not getting enough calcium could lead to extreme fatigue, brain fog, and muscle cramping. You should get plenty of this mineral to strengthen bone health and boost the protein structures in your leg muscles.

One thing to note is that you can take magnesium and calcium separately. They don’t have to be taken together, so it’s worth considering what mineral could benefit you the most. For example, if you want to improve your long-term bone health, go for calcium supplements.

#4 Protein 

Protein is a complex substance that supports the formation of hemoglobin. Your body needs hemoglobin to carry oxygen to your muscles. This process is required for building muscle tissue, especially in those who do weight training or regularly strain their legs running.

Many endurance athletes buy protein powder to increase their protein intake. Consuming more of this supplement will naturally repair muscles and help you exercise pain-free. Just remember that not getting enough could trigger headaches, mood changes, and weakness.

There are other benefits of a high protein intake. Since protein is made up of amino acids, it can boost your immune system. These compounds encourage antibodies to fight germs in the body and kill cells that might cause infections, leading to better health when exercising. 

Some people even drink protein shakes for weight loss. This dense substance will fill up your stomach and prevent hunger cravings. Fewer binge eating episodes can stop any future weight gain, so it might be worth using protein supplements to achieve long-term fat loss.

You should get 10–35% of your calories from protein. Everyone needs a different amount, depending on their weight and running goals. The average dosage would be 50–175 grams a day, so always measure your protein powder intake and how much you’re eating in a diet.

#5 Iron 

Iron is an important mineral that supports growth and development.

Most endurance athletes need iron supplements to boost their endurance performance. This key mineral strengthens energy metabolism, oxygen transportation, and fluid balance. Losing too much iron while running could lead to shortness of breath and light-headedness. 

To go for long-distance running sessions, you need to consume plenty of iron. Your body uses the mineral to support hemoglobin in red blood cells, further enhancing muscle function. The more energy your muscles have throughout the day, the more likely you’ll run a few extra miles.

A high iron intake may also improve brain, joint, and gut health. Of course, stronger brain development is great for endurance athletes. Iron boosts your concentration levels by stimulating neurotransmitters – signaling molecules that keep your body functioning properly.

The recommended iron dosage is 8.7mg a day for men and 14.8mg a day for women. Remember that consuming too much iron leads to constipation, general weakness, heart palpitations, stomach pain, unintentional weight loss, and frequent exhaustion. 

#6 Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) 

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are a group of three amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Some studies show that BCAAs can retain glycogen stores during intense exercise, which increases the time it takes for you to feel physically worn out. 

Your muscles are getting all the glucose they need to function. This obviously supports any kind of endurance exercise, including running workouts. More internal energy prevents muscle breakdown, low immune function, and muscle cramps, further enhancing running performance. 

A great thing to note is that branched-chain amino acids also increase muscle growth. They stimulate protein synthesis – a process that builds muscle. One study discovered that those who took 5.6 grams of BCAAs a day had 22% more lean muscle compared to people who didn’t.

The daily dosage for these amino acids is up to 20 grams. You can also get BCAAs from foods like eggs, meat, milk, fish, and certain types of poultry. Some experts recommend taking supplements 15 minutes before an endurance exercise to boost energy levels.

It might be worth consulting your doctor before taking BCAA supplements. Consuming large doses could result in fatigue, headaches, low moods, insulin resistance, and coordination problems. These types of issues will stop endurance athletes from achieving their goals. 

#7 Vitamins B6 and B12 

Vitamins B6 and B12 could be the key substances to better overall health.

You can take vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) supplements to reduce any stress in your body. Pyridoxine encourages your metabolism to break down glucose stores and use those as a reliable energy source. Of course, as you already know, more energy is great for boosting athletic performance. 

Some other great benefits of vitamin B6 include a stronger immune system. Consuming this supplement will reduce chronic inflammation that could slow down any immune response. To exercise properly, you have to feel healthy when putting your body through those mile runs.

Now, vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is very important for endurance athletes. Cobalamin plays a role in producing red blood cells that transport oxygen. Some endurance events, like running 6 miles a day, require plenty of oxygen to fuel your muscles and help them function during exercise.

There isn’t a huge dosage for these vitamins, but you should still take them regularly to build muscle strength and boost performance. So, if you’re under 50, you should take 1.3 milligrams of vitamin B6 a day. The same goes for B12, which is 2.4 micrograms a day

People with diabetes can also take vitamins when maintaining their blood sugar levels during intense exercise. The best supplements for runners should always cater to everyone’s health. For example, vitamin B12 does a great job at improving glycemic control and endurance. 

#8 Beetroot extract 

Beetroot extract may improve cardiorespiratory endurance for many runners. This is because it has lots of nitrates – chemical compounds that relax your blood vessels and regulate circulation. Fewer blood pressure spikes mean you don’t have to keep stopping during your long runs. 

There are some studies that show how beets increase blood flow to muscle fibers. Runners can then speed up their pace without getting muscle cramps. Dietary nitrate especially gives your muscles more power while running, naturally giving you better endurance over time. 

Some people drink fresh beetroot juice, and others take normal supplements before intense training. You’ll mainly be consuming vitamin C, antioxidants, flavonoids, and phenolic acids, along with nitrate. The recommended dosage for nitrate is 3.7mg per kg of body weight a day.

Of course, we can’t forget the other benefits of beetroot extract. This popular running supplement contains anti-inflammatory properties. The betalains, which are phytonutrients, reduce certain enzymes that trigger inflammation and increase the risk of heart disease.

Anyone with heart problems may take beetroot supplements to improve their long-term cardiovascular health. Since beets are rich in vitamin B9 (folate), they can repair any damage to blood vessels. In the long term, you’ll have a stronger heart that supports strenuous exercise.

#9 Green tea leaf extract 

Green tea extract is a great supplement for endurance athletes. One study found that people’s endurance was boosted by 24% after taking green tea extract for 10 weeks. These caffeine-based dietary supplements may give you the required energy for a long-distance run.

Running supplements containing green tea also have L-theanine. This amino acid reduces muscle damage after exercising for too long. Sore muscles usually stop people from reaching their goals, so it’s important to let your body recover using green tea supplements. 

There are more amazing benefits of green tea for weight loss. The high content of catechins may reduce body fat the more you exercise. Catechins basically serve as antioxidants – compounds that improve triglyceride levels and lower blood sugar in those with diabetes. 

Remember that you can’t lose stubborn weight through green tea supplementation. You have to complete intensive training or try an endurance event to burn calories. Green tea extract can only boost your metabolism, encouraging the body to use more hidden fat stores. 

#10 Vitamins D and C

Vitamins D and C may give your body that extra push while running.

Some people take vitamin D supplements to reduce cytokines – substances that promote inflammation and slow down muscle recovery. This vitamin is known to be the best recovery supplement for endurance athletes, as they don’t need to worry about muscle damage. 

On the other hand, vitamin C will support your immune system and prevent fatigue. It plays a vital role in bone health, which naturally makes people feel stronger. You can find vitamin C in foods like bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, and many citrus fruits. 

The recommended daily dosage for vitamin D is 600 IU. For vitamin C, you need to have 75 milligrams if you’re a woman and 90 milligrams if you’re a man. Going over this amount could lead to symptoms like stomach cramps, nausea, headaches, heartburn, and fatigue.

Just remember that you don’t need to take these vitamins together. There are separate supplements for runners that have their own unique benefits. For example, if you struggle with weak muscles, take vitamin D to ensure your muscles heal properly after running.

A Word From Our Coach

As you can see, there are lots of supplements to choose from.

There are many sports nutrition guides selling fake supplements that won’t work for endurance events. For example, sodium is an important electrolyte to have, but too much causes dehydration. Of course, when you’re sweating on a run, you need water to function properly.

You need to be careful about which supplements you choose. Not everyone will experience the same physical effects, so it might be a trial and error situation. Protein powders might be good for beginner runners, as they need more muscle strength to keep their legs going.

Other tips to boost your endurance include drinking enough water, going for power walks, eating nutrient-dense foods, and being consistent. Not following your routine every day could set back progress significantly, so try to get out of the house, even when you really don’t want to.

People need to drink lots of water before and after exercise. The daily water intake is 9 cups for women and 12 cups for men. Sweating basically gets rid of our only supply of hydration, meaning you have to consume tons of water to maintain high performance levels.

One final thing is to consult with a doctor before buying any supplement. You can gain professional advice on what works best for your personal health. There might also be side effects of each supplement, so it’s better to understand these before delving straight in.


There are 10 supplements that improve performance and support endurance running. Protein, magnesium, and vitamin D are just a few great options for your dietary regime. Remember that each supplement does a different thing for your body, so always research their unique traits. 

You need to consult with your doctor before trying new foods or supplements, especially if you have a health condition. A medical professional may advise you on what to take in the long term. It’s very important to put your long-term health first before trying any dietary trends.

Lastly, think about your goals and how a supplement might help you reach them.

Written by
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
The article was checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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