There are all manner of sports supplements out there claim to be advantageous for runners and other active types. Some you’ve probably heard of; others might be completely new to you. Whether you need a sports supplement or not is entirely a different matter. Many runners swear by supplements that work for them, others take nothing. Many of us fall into a middle ground of curiosity, wondering if there is something out there that will help improve performance or boost recovery.
So, we thought it would be useful to start a hub of articles looking at the latest sports supplements on the market and give you a breakdown of their claims, their potential benefits and a bit of information about what they are.
Note: We’re not nutrition or medical professionals; we’re runners. And what works for one person, might not work for another, so we suggest doing your own research before taking any supplements. We’re just presenting the information here, but not making any recommendations.
Up first is a product called Sun Eleuthero. If you’ve never heard of it, you’re certainly not alone. We’d never come across it before it came into the office, but with the title of the press release ‘The best sports supplement you’ve never heard of’, we felt compelled to find out more.
What is Sun Eleuthero?
Sun Eleuthero is a food supplement containing a very tongue-twisting main ingredient: Eleutherococcus senticosus (ES). This is a wild plant that is very difficult to grow and it’s found in the wild in the mountain forests of East Asia. It is used in traditional Chinese medicine for a number of ailments. And now you can get this exotic plant in supplement form.
ES is an ‘adaptogen’. An adaptogen is a non-toxic plant that is thought to help support the body’s ability to adapt to mental and physical stressors. Adaptogens are having a bit of a moment in the wellness sector, bringing centuries-old Chinese and Ayurvedic healing to the modern, Western world.
In terms of its effects on athletes and runners, this product claims to speed up recovery, decrease muscle damage, boost fat burning and dramatically increase endurance performance. There are studies linked to this, a couple with mice, but there is also a human study referenced by the team behind the product.
“Participants in the study cycled at 75% of their VO2 Peak (a measure of the amount of oxygen consumed when exercising at maximum capacity) until exhaustion, before and after 8 weeks of supplementing with ES. After the two month period, participants were seen to have raised their VO2 measurements by 12%, but more striking their endurance time increased by an incredible 23%. These dramatic changes again appeared to be linked to the fact ES somehow alters the body’s metabolism to rely more on fat as a fuel.”
Taking the sports supplement
Sun Eleuthero is designed to be taken every day, so you do need to weigh up the costs. A single pack will last you around three weeks once you are taking the maximum dosage, and that will set you back about £22.
One pack has 240 tablets – yes, that really is only three weeks’ worth. The recommended daily serving is 12 tablets, which seems a lot. But it does say to start with just four tablets and build up gradually to allow your body to adapt to the supplementation. The tablets don’t all have to be taken in one go and they can be consumed with or without food. They are also pretty tiny and easy to swallo. The tablets are both vegetarian and gluten free. While they are a supplement, they are not designed to be used as a substitution for a healthy, balanced diet, as with any supplement.
There are, of course, those who should not take any supplement, such as pregnant or breastfeeding women. They are also not suitable for those with any heart condition or high blood pressure. We’d always recommend speaking to your GP before taking anything new if you have any medical concerns.