Is supplementation important for endurance sports performance? It is interesting to compare science-based recommendations with the supplement habits of endurance athletes. Fedhealth Dream Chasers dietician Andrea du Plessis tells us which supplements are necessary and which are optional.


For some athletes, supplementation is a necessity during every endurance race. Others only consider it when the “wheels come off”, such as when they “hit the wall”, get debilitating muscle cramps or end up with a drip in the medical tent due to dehydration.


Fuel, water and electrolytes are vital to support the body during endurance sports. One can load the body before training with adequate amounts of these dietary elements for endurance events under 60 to 90 minutes.


For sports events longer than 90 minutes, it’s important to refuel and rehydrate during the event. Nutritional science shows us that for certain need states, supplements can be beneficial for endurance events lasting longer than two hours.




  1. For hydration

Fluid: 250 – 500ml per hour after the first hour

  • Fluid in the form of water, sports drinks or rehydration drinks can be taken during an endurance event.
  • One shouldn’t need more than 500ml of fluid per hour, depending on body size and actual fluid requirements.
  • On warmer days, or for athletes who perspire a lot, additional fluid replacement is required.



  • The electrolytes sodium and potassium should also be replenished during endurance events, as they are critical to energy metabolism and muscle contraction. Sports drinks or rehydration formulas are enriched with electrolytes.


  1. For energy

If you did not fuel up before a race with a high-energy breakfast or a substantial meal the night before, it is important to eat during an endurance event.



  • For an energy boost after the first 60-90 minutes, 1-2 energy gels, or 1 energy bar can supply 20-40g carbohydrates
  • Carbohydrates are the most effective in replenishing fuel during endurance training. Protein and fats play a supportive role and can also be incorporated.
  • Snacks offered on the route at races include boiled salted potatoes, chips, jelly sweets and fruit.


  • Vitamins and minerals: 1 multivitamin/ vitamin B Complex before an endurance event
  • B-vitamins: conversion of energy from the foods you’ve eaten into muscle power requires B-vitamins. Multivitamins or vitamin B Complex supplements will provide adequate amounts, required for energy metabolism in your muscles.
  • Magnesium: take a supplement of 100-150mg magnesium before or during an endurance event. Your muscles require sufficient levels of this mineral for the increased energy turnover and muscle contraction.
  • Arnica: homeopathic tablets that contain arnica (Traumeel from Heel) area ideal to take before, during and after an endurance event to reduce muscle soreness.


  • Muscle pain and cramps: 150mg magnesium before or during an endurance event.

For more information, visit or for any nutrition related questions, contact Andrea du Plessis on 084 403 6018, email or go to