5 Supplements Shown to Improve Your Fitness

Every top 5 list for supplements will vary due to marketing, opinions, fads and hottest trends. This is a money-making industry and hands are out and ready to take your cash. Honestly, we don't require supplements to cut fat, build muscle, and enhance performance.

In fact, we can obtain most of our essential nutrients from healthy food intake to create the body we desire. Before you stop reading, a few supplements have shown promise with enhancing our fitness. Studies for more conclusive information are always ongoing.

Supplements remain unregulated and as a consumer should be approached with buyer-beware. Before handing over hard-earned cash for supplements, it's recommended to research the products, talk to your doctor and track your own progress.

Make an informed decision before purchasing a bunch of supplements thought to produce a fitness miracle. Now that you are reading with an open mind, the following supplements are backed by scientific evidence and often asked about for improving fitness.

Fish Oil

woman holding fish oil supplement and water

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Fatty fish contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which are both types of omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega 3 fats have already been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease and now studies similar to The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition are seeing neuromuscular improvement for endurance athletes with fish oil supplementation. 

Another study conducted on female elite soccer players and reported by The Journal of Sports Science and Medicine revealed, “the study suggests that supplementation with DHA produced perceptual-motor benefits in female elite athletes and that DHA could be a beneficial supplement in sports where decision making and reaction time efficiency are of importance.” 

BCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids)

young woman drinking BCAAs from shaker bottle in gym
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Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) contain leucine, isoleucine, and valine which have an important role in protein synthesis and glucose uptake into our cells. These amino acids have important functions post-exercise and for overall muscle building and recovery. 

BCAAs can be obtained by eating lean protein and is encouraged. An abstract published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness states “this observation suggests that BCAA supplementation may reduce the muscle damage associated with endurance exercise.”

Further research also indicated similar findings with the addition of “BCAA as a useful supplement for muscle recovery and immune regulation for sports events.” 

Vitamin D

Fish oil capsules with omega 3 and vitamin D in a glass bottle on wooden texture, healthy diet concept, close up shot.
batuhan toker / Getty Images

Vitamin D deficiency has become a problem worldwide and is now negatively affecting people over a wide age spectrum and including athletes. Dairy products contain vitamin D and it is also absorbed through natural sunlight. It's essential to include a source of vitamin D daily to maintain optimal health and fitness. 

 An abstract published by Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise states “vitamin D may improve athletic performance in vitamin D-deficient athletes” and “may also protect the athlete from several acute and chronic medical conditions.” 

According to an article published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports “despite the limited evidence available at the time, athletes and trainers in the early 20th century believed that UVB radiation was beneficial to athletic performance."

"Accumulating evidence supports the existence of a functional role for vitamin D in skeletal muscle with potentially significant impacts on both the performance and injury profiles of young, otherwise healthy athletes.”


Black Coffee With Napkin

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Caffeine is typically one of the top ingredients for fat burning supplements, weight loss products, and performance enhancers. A great cup of black coffee can deliver the metabolism boost plus provide bonus antioxidants. More is not better however when it comes to caffeine and proceed with caution before using this product.

In an International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance “It is evident that caffeine is indeed ergogenic to sport performance but is specific to the condition of the athlete as well as intensity, duration, and mode of exercise.”

Also indicated in a 2014 Harvard Health Publication, “not only is caffeine a brain stimulant … but it also blocks receptors giving you a surge of energy and potentially improving mental performance and slowing age-related mental decline.”


Man putting creatine powder into shaker cup at the gym
ChesiireCat / Getty Images

Creatine is one of the most researched and widely used supplements to enhance muscle building and strength. It is responsible for supplying energy to cells within the body and keeping our cellular functions in balance.

Creatine is naturally occurring in the body but also found in foods like meat, dairy and eggs. The International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism reported creatine “greater for changes in lean body mass following short-term creatine supplementation” and also creatine “does not appear to be effective in improving running and swimming performance.” 

An abstract published in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry stated, “although not all studies report significant results, the preponderance of scientific evidence indicates that creatine supplementation appears to be a generally effective nutritional ergogenic aid for a variety of exercise tasks in a number of athletic and clinical populations.” 

The takeaway: do your research on this one!

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10 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Guzmán JF, Esteve H, Pablos C, Pablos A, Blasco C, Villegas JA. DHA- Rich Fish Oil Improves Complex Reaction Time in Female Elite Soccer Players. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. 2011;10(2):301-5.

  3. Coombes JS, McNaughton LR. Effects of branched-chain amino acid supplementation on serum creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase after prolonged exercise. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 2000;40(3):240-6.

  4. Negro M, Giardina S, Marzani B, Marzatico F. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation does not enhance athletic performance but affects muscle recovery and the immune system. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 2008;48(3):347-51.

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  6. Hamilton B. Vitamin D and Human Skeletal Muscle. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. 2010;20(2):182-90. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.01016.x

  7. Goldstein ER, Ziegenfuss T, Kalman D, et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2010;7(1):5. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-7-5

  8. Watson, S. Caffeine and a healthy diet may boost memory, thinking skills; alcohol’s effect uncertain. Harvard Health Publishing. Published June 18, 2014.

  9. Branch JD. Effect of Creatine Supplementation on Body Composition and Performance: A Meta-analysis. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2003;13(2):198-226. doi:10.1123/ijsnem.13.2.198

  10. Kreider RB. Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. 2003;244(1-2):89-94.