The world of dietary supplements and vitamins can be a scary and confusing place! When I first started including supplements and vitamins in my daily routine, I had NO idea what I was doing. How much creatine should I take? How much protein should I be eating? What in the world is beta-alanine and why does it make my face so itchy? These are all questions that I was too embarrassed to ask. But guess what? It’s OKAY not to know! That’s why I’m here to help.
After going through the program with Erica, I can tell you that I am 10 times more knowledgeable about what supplements and vitamins I need for MY body to perform at its peak. While being a Division 1 athlete, especially a swimmer, sometimes food and hydration are simply not enough. We are burning thousands upon thousands of calories each day, and sometimes we need a little help in the form of supplementation.
My favorite supplement that I currently take is Beta-Alanine. Who here takes pre-workout? Everyone always talks about the “tingles” in your face that start after you drink your pre-workout. That is what Beta-Alanine feels like! Beta-Alanine’s benefits don’t end at giving you the tingles. Increased strength, physical performance, and aerobic exercise capacity are all other ways Beta-Alanine can help you in your swimming career!
I love caffeine… may be a borderline addiction. Pre-workout is another supplement that I HAVE to have to be able to keep up with training and racing during the season. One thing I have struggled with was being able to fall asleep after a finals session at a swim meet after taking pre-workout. I don’t know if any of you have tried drinking 200 mg of caffeine, then try and sleep 4 hours later but let me tell you, it’s HARD. After meeting with Erica, we found a solution to that issue! Klean Athlete is a brand that Erica works very closely with, and they directly target athletes with their supplements. They have created a pre-workout that doesn’t include any caffeine. Instead, they Include BCAAs and ATP.
Branch Chain Amino Acids help keep your muscles hydrated during a workout, and help repair them once you have finished. You probably remember hearing the name “ATP” at some point in your high school science classes. ATP is the main source of energy for cellular function. Using ATP rather than caffeine makes it much easier for me to be able to fall asleep and recover after a race-pace set or a finals session at a swim meet. Using a product that has combined BCAAs and ATP energy has become a staple in my training.
The last staple I’ve added to my daily routine since meeting with Erica is protein powder! As I said before, I had no idea how much protein I should eat in a day. Come to find out, eating a gram per body weight should be the MINIMUM for my body. I quickly realized that I needed some help. I like to use two different protein powders. During the day, I love using Klean Athletes Vanilla Whey Isolate because it is a super simple protein source that is easily digestible so it doesn’t leave you feeling super full. Protein shakes can be boring at times, so here are some fun ways to include the protein during your day: Add it into your morning coffee, smoothies, acai bowls, and overnight oats/oatmeal! The second protein powder I like to use is Vega Sports Nighttime Protein Powder. If you’re like me, and you just have to have something sweet before you go to bed, the Caramel and Vanilla flavor is perfect. There is one special thing about this powder, it has melatonin included in the ingredients! Having one of these shakes, then hitting the sheets is my favorite way to recover and prepare for another day of training!
Like I said before, it is perfect to ask questions and learn more about supplements! Don’t be scared to ask. It’s super important to remember one thing though, just taking supplements isn’t a magic pill to make you faster. You still have to put in the work! They are there for a helping hand when you need it.
Mason Wilby is a decorated D1 athlete from the University of Kentucky. He is an international swimmer and has represented England at the Commonwealth Games and British Swimming Championships. Mason has made tremendous progress in his swimming career and has valuable knowledge to share with his experiences in and out of the water.