By Jill Lane, Pro-Athlete Health and Nutrition Expert www.JillLane.com
Athletic success (for any age, skill level or sport) takes a multi-disciplined approach. Proper sleep and recovery, specific exercise and sport training along with meal planning and timing are at the foundation of any well-developed plan (athlete or not).
Athletes, especially those who train at high intensity and/or high volume, can easily fall victim to what I call the “Hidden Hurdles to Peak Sports Performance” (watch for my blog on this topic coming this summer). These hurdles include digestive distress (including but not limited to food sensitivities), poor sleep habits, overtraining and chronic adrenal stress (from overtraining, under eating and poor sleep) and immune dysfunction (from all of the above). They all are connected and can cause the other if not proactively supported.
Because of these factors, I approach sports nutrition and supplements for athletes with a focus on building a foundation with adequate metabolic protection from the hidden hurdles FIRST.
With that, here are My Top 6 Supplements for Peak Athletic Performance:
1. Amino Complex
Branched chain (BCAA) and essential amino acids literally are the building blocks for lean muscle mass. They signal both protein synthesis (the BCAA l-leucine is most responsible for this), act as substrates for the Krebs cycle and induce mitochondrial biogenesis (more mitochondria means more ATP, which means more energy). Whether you want more energy, enhanced recovery, protection of loss of lean muscle and/or more strength and power out of the muscle you currently have, or you want to add more lean muscle mass, a BCAA and essential amino acid blend is for you.  They are not all created equal, so read labels carefully. Amino acids notoriously taste and smell bad so watch for artificial sweeteners, sugar and other fake food additives. I use Amino Complex (AKA DaxibeQOL), a scientifically validated source with over 25 years of clinical research to back its effect. Research shows taking BCAAs alone can reduce the levels of other essential amino acids in your body, so make sure to take a cleanly sourced blend like Amino Complex or DaxibeQOL.
2. Magnesium Citramate (or Albion Chelate)
Magnesium is easily one of the most overlooked, inexpensive sports performance aids available. An Alternative Medicine Review Monograph from 2002 states that “Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, including ATP synthesis, protein synthesis, glycogen breakdown, fatty acid oxidation, and maintenance of membrane stability of the cardiovascular, neuromuscular, neuroendocrine, and immune systems”…all of which is critical for an athlete! Magnesium has been shown to aid in recovery, performance, heart health and muscle fiber contractility. Research has demonstrated that athletes who take magnesium perform better. Overtraining can place undue stress on cardiac (heart) muscle. Magnesium has been shown to protect heart muscle function and overall heart health. Most athletes (and people) need way more then they would think to take. Dosed before bed, magnesium can help with sleep (another undervalued sports performance aid). 
3. Probiotic Complex
Over time I noticed a common thread in my high-mileage, high-intensity, multi-hour training athlete clients: digestive distress. A topic no athlete wants to discuss, although it can be devastating to performance. Distress can vary from gas, bloating and indigestion to diarrhea and other more serious inflammatory GI issues. Eating The Virgin Diet way for an athlete can help mitigate many of these symptoms. Additionally, most athletes will benefit from ongoing digestive support through a balanced, dairy-free, acid-resistant probiotic blend. A high percentage of our immune health resides in our digestive track; probiotics can boost gut-based immunity, which is not only great for performance, but overall health. Taken daily probiotics in athletes may also help reduce total body inflammation, not to mention if your digestive track is optimally functioning you digest and absorb all that healthy food you’re eating! 
4. Elevate Adrenal Tonic
Athletes are some of the most stressed out people I know. How could a multi-million dollar a year athlete playing the sport he/she loves be stressed, you might wonder? Exercise and sport specific training causes, by effect of normal physiology, an increase of adrenaline and cortisol. Endurance, high-intensity and multi-hour training bouts can increase the demand of these hormones even higher. Sustained stress/adrenal hormone production can be associated with reduced performance and overtraining like effects. Many athletes are experiencing the signs and symptoms of overtraining and adrenal burden (fatigue, drop in performance, headaches, reoccurring colds/flu, drop in appetite, moodiness, loss of interest in sport, muscle pain and soreness that does not go away, elevated resting heart rate and more). I love this definition of overtraining from about.com: “Overtraining syndrome frequently occurs in athletes who are training for competition or a specific event and train beyond the body’s ability to recover.” Athletes often exercise longer and harder so they can improve. Without adequate rest and recovery, these training regimens can backfire, and actually decrease performance. Oh and don’t forget that athletes are people too; others may just simply be ‘burned out’ from other responsibilities and demands in their life. When the adrenals glands are either over or under-producing stress hormones, performance and other hormone levels like testosterone and thyroid also suffer! 
5. A Multi Vitamin/Mineral/Fish Oil Combo, Specifically Thorne’s Daily Basics Packets
Athletes should always be taking a professional grade multi vitamin, mineral and antioxidant blend. The average person is rarely getting what he or she needs from their food supply due to lack of food variety and poor food quality all together. An athlete has higher needs for nutrients because he/she is pushing metabolic functions to their peak. The simple action of training and/or practicing for a sport causes free radical release, which can age us quicker, slow muscle repair and stall performance. Multi mineral blends should be free of unnecessary fillers that can impede nutrient absorption like magnesium or vegetable stearates, be free of synthetic vitamin E, have a nice dose of a variety of antioxidants and include a pure, highly concentrated omega 3 fatty acid blend.
6. Rebound Curcumin
Athletes are always recovering from inflammation, even if they are precise about days off and proper recovery. Curcumin (the extract from turmeric) has been show in numerous studies to help support healthy inflammation pathways. Because athletes are prone to ‘over-doing’ over the counter and prescription pain meds which can wreak havoc on either the digestive track or liver or both, having a safe solution that can be used chronically with no downside is worth it’s weight in gold. Not all curcumin is created equally, as you probably figured out already, I’m picky. Curcumin is hard to absorb, don’t be fooled with those that add pepper extract essentially causing leaky gut and allowing other ‘stuff’ to get it into your system (‘stuff’ like bugs and food that aren’t digested all the way yet). That’s why I use the product mentioned above, the phytosome technology has been proven to safely enhance absorption. Enough said. P.S. Don’t waste your money on turmeric (cook with it of course), but if you want the inflammation support use curcumin. Turmeric is only 5% curcumin at best.
Honorable Mention – Extra Fish Oil Liquid for higher dosing (if my list was a top 7 which I considered changing it to, this would be my #7 for sure), L-glutamine, D-ribose, CoQ10, something for the liver if the athlete regularly takes Tylenol based pain meds and L-Carnitine if the athlete needs to also trim body fat and/or manage lactic acid better.
Want to grab some of the products I’ve mentioned above for yourself or your student athlete? Go here www.JillLane.com/network
© 2014 Lane Consulting, www.JillLane.com
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Disclaimer: Jill Lane is a consultant for Thorne Research