At NUTRISHOP, much of our reputation for helping people achieve higher levels of fitness comes from our physique competitors — bodybuilders, bikini contestants and the like. It’s true that we do love helping these athletes hone their craft and shape their bodies. But we help with much more than simply how an athlete looks!

The body is all about movement and function — what can it do for us, and how can we help it perform better? Even those who don’t necessarily compete or exercise, who just want to feel better and be healthier in their day-to-day lives, make up a big part of our clientele.

To that end, we’ve come up with a list of the best products to use for athletes, specifically in endurance-dependent sports, those who might not be interested in getting on a stage to show off their muscular development but who would rather put their gains to functional use in competition, like races or athletics. We’ll be going through them with this running blog this week, two at a time.

The first two on our list are old standbys — frankly, they’d be great supplements for anybody.

1. PRO7EIN SYNTHESIS/FORZA PRO. Anyone who’s depending on muscle development and maintenance will find a need for protein in their diet; the problem is that it’s awfully tough to fill in with lean sources of protein throughout the day without loading up on calories. That’s where protein powders come in. PRO7 and FORZAPRO are some of the best-tasting, highest protein-to-calorie ratio supplements you can invest in.

How it helps the athlete: Aside from inherently adding more lean muscle mass, an increased protein intake has myriad benefits, including body fat loss. When you’re moving your body around in athletics, every pound has to pull its weight, especially if you’re competing in a weight class! Muscle recovery and optimization are key for any athlete.

2. BCAA SPORT. Further broken down, proteins, at their base level, are essentially made up of branched-chain amino acids. Your body can and will use these for energy, and finds them from food and even within the body — many distance runners, for example, appear to be very skinny and lean because while their metabolisms attack fat stores for energy, they also will turn to muscle and the amino acids in them for fuel. Supplementing with BCAAs provides a buffer of sorts, as well as helping maintain and even build the muscle in the body.

How it helps the athlete: On top of protecting the lean muscle mass the athlete has achieved or is working to improve upon, BCAA SPORT is unique in that it also includes an electrolyte blend that keeps cells hydrated, crucial for any endurance athlete. What makes it stand out from other supplements is that BCAAs are metabolized in the muscle, not the liver, for faster uptake — this makes it perfect before, during or after a grueling workout. Some studies have indicated that BCAAs help fight fatigue as well!

betabol3. BETABOL. Featuring HMB,  a naturally occurring compound produced when our bodies metabolize the amino acid leucine, BETABOL is an excellent choice for endurance athletes who need recovery. HMB’s main role has been found to be the repair, growth and preservation of muscle tissue, as well as the capacity to burn fat. The body spends precious resources with muscle repair — each rep you do results in microscopic muscle-fiber tears; the regrowth of these tears puts a huge energy strain on the body. Leucine is the only essential amino acid with the capacity to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, but it is essentially used primarily to repair muscle damage incurred while lifting. When it is metabolized, HMB is produced as a natural byproduct and aids in recovery.

How it helps the athlete: What if you could “free up” the leucine in your body to stimulate muscle protein synthesis to develop NEW muscle, instead of merely repairing the damaged tissue? That is precisely where an HMB supplement like BETABOL comes in. An increase in HMB is designed to allow essential leucine to build new muscle tissue, in turn burning more fat.

4. KARBOLYN.  A full dose of double patent-pending X-R3 Enhancement is designed to take your lean muscle gains to new heights by creating the proper anabolic environment for explosive power, strength, performance and muscle endurance as well as accelerating post-workout muscle recovery when used in conjunction with proper nutrition and a regular exercise program.

How it helps the athlete: The delivery of complex carbohydrates and Kre-Alkalyn (creatine) means more energy (via glucose and increased ATP), strength and power, on top of accelerated post-workout recovery. For someone needing sustained energy AND to promote muscle gain, like an endurance athlete, KARBOLYN is another solid choice.

5. GLUTAMINE. Glutamine’s properties as a recovery supplement help it target broken-down areas of muscle. This applies to weight lifters and athletes as a tool to reduce soreness by speeding up the process of muscle recovery. It is the presence of glutamine ITSELF in muscle tissue that is responsible for how sore you are after an intense workout. Even bed-ridden patients in hospitals are given excess glutamine to make sure their muscles don’t waste away while they’re off their feet. So, the more glutamine that’s available, theoretically, the less sore you will be.

How it helps the athlete: Any athlete who has been through the rigors of training and competition will tell you the value of feeling fresh and strong; it’s another thing entirely to have your immune system and muscles recovering at full optimization. Glutamine’s reparative properties make it a must-have for anyone who consistently exercises at demanding levels.

6. NATURE’S FUEL. On top of the main purpose of actually getting what you pay for, NATURE’S FUEL stands apart from knock-off or cheap versions of a daily multivitamin with other blends that make it a powerful addition to anybody’s supplementation schedule. For one, it contains amino acids — we know amino acids are building blocks of protein, and we know that you can rarely have too many of them. Their role in NATURE’S FUEL is to provide your body with a little extra recovery ability, joining forces with the many vitamins and minerals that aid in the same process.

How it helps the athlete: With an amino acid blend, greens blend and antioxidant blend, NATURE’S FUEL is a complete multivitamin designed to cater to the competitive athlete. Immune function, energy and digestion all are important facets of physical health.