In part three of this series we are going to look at how you can add supplements to your zone 2 training to help you get the most out of it.
Even if you are doing everything you can to improve your health and lose fat efficiently you might still be feeling that there is something beneficial that could speed up your process. This is the point at which supplementation might help. Although do remember that supplements will not do the work for you, they are just here to help with what you are already doing.
There are several supplements that can potentially enhance endurance performance, fat oxidation (burn), or energy levels during zone 2 training. Here are some supplements to consider.
Caffeine is a popular pre-workout supplement that can help improve alertness, focus, and perceived exertion during exercise. It can also contribute to appetite suppression and the thermogenesis effect. Caffeine can increase the body’s production of heat which results in higher caloric expenditure and can potentially promote fat loss. Via lipolysis, caffeine can enhance the mobilization of free fatty acids and thus promote fat oxidation and utilization as an energy source. Studies have shown that caffeine can also increase fat oxidation, particularly when consumed before exercising in a fasted state.
L-Carnitine is an amino acid that plays a crucial role in transporting long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria (the body’s powerhouse) where they can be oxidized and converted into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The mechanism by which L-Carnitine aids fat oxidation involves binding to fatty acids and forming a compound called acylcarnitine which can then be transported across the inner mitochondrial membrane, where it is converted back into L-Carnitine and a free fatty acid. The fatty acid is then oxidized in the mitochondria to produce ATP while the L-Carnitine molecule is free to transport another fatty acid. Supplementing with L-Carnitine may help improve fat oxidation during endurance exercise, although research results have been mixed. L-Carnitine does has several different types though, each of which offers slightly different properties. L-Carnitine L-Tartrate (LCLT) is the most common form that is found in supplements. It has high bioavailability and is often used for improving exercise performance and recovery.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) comprising of leucine, isoleucine, and valine, may help delay muscle fatigue and promote muscle recovery during prolonged exercise. While BCAAs are not directly involved in fat oxidation they can still help support endurance performance during zone 2 training.
Beta-Alanine is a non-essential amino acid that helps increase muscle carnosine levels, buffering hydrogen ions, and delaying muscle fatigue during high-intensity exercise. Although its primary benefits are geared towards high-intensity workouts it may also provide some benefits during longer, low-intensity endurance sessions.
Electrolytes play an important role in maintaining proper hydration, and electrolyte balance is crucial for optimal endurance performance. Consuming an electrolyte supplement during prolonged zone 2 training sessions can help replace lost sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, ensuring proper muscle function and preventing cramping. You do not only sweat out water, for example when you sweat you are also losing minerals. So if you do not replenish the loss of minerals it could lead to quicker fatigue, cramps, and even injuries.
Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) are a type of fat that can be rapidly absorbed and converted into energy. Some studies have shown that MCT supplementation can increase fat oxidation during endurance exercise. The most abundant MCT oil sources are in coconut oil, or you can buy MCT oil itself too.
One things that I did not mention here is actually one of my favorite supplements for muscle gain, fat loss, and brain function — creatine. It will take a whole article to look at all of the benefits of creatine. I will be writing that very soon!
Again, remember that supplements should not replace a balance diet with a well rounded exercise and nutrition plan. Supplements should only complement that.
“The effects of caffeine intake on weight loss: a systematic review and dos-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials”; PubMed; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30335479/
“Coffee, diabetes, and weight control”; The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/84/4/682/4633022