Have you ever wondered how professional athletes consistently perform so high?
How do Olympians keep setting the bar higher as they break record after record?
Obviously, these superhuman feats require tremendous work and dedication.
What you might not know, however, is that they have an entire arsenal of molecular assistance at their disposal. Some are safe, others more experimental.
In this post, I am going to break down the top ergogenic, performance-enhancing foods, supplements, and drugs clandestinely fueling athletes of all skill levels.
What Are Ergogenic Aids?
Ergogenic aids are performance enhancers that give you an advantage while competing or exercising. Usually, these are techniques or supplements, foods, stimulants, and other substances that boost physical and/or mental performance.
They range from ubiquitous techniques like carb loading and Neuro Coffee consumption to the risky use of research chemicals and modifying the human genome with experimental technologies.
Some of the main categories of ergogenic aids include:
Remember that each intervention has a different risk-to-benefit ratio.
Just because it’s safe, that doesn’t mean it’s legal. And vice-versa.
Certain governing agencies ban commercially available over-the-counter supplements, and even prescribed medications.
Illegal & banned performance-enhancing ergogenic aids
Governing agencies are constantly tacking on new items and categories onto their banned substances list.
Check these pages for the latest:
Yes, even high-dose caffeine is banned for use in competitive sports.
Then there are the items that are in the grey area,
“Colostrum is not specifically prohibited, however it contains certain quantities of IGF-1 and other growth factors which are prohibited and may influence the outcome of anti-doping tests. Therefore, WADA does not recommend the ingestion of this product.”
Some aids are risky, and some are fine. Some are even healthy (peptides and growth hormone secretagogues, for example) when used appropriately.
Many of the foundational performance enhancers are foods and safe supplements.
Foundational Beginner-Friendly Performance Enhancing Supplements
Boosting your performance can be simple, powerful, and incredibly low-risk.
That’s why we are beginning with the fundamental (legal and over-the-counter) substances that can not just level up your athletic output, but improve your quality of life too.
Perhaps the most popular and useful sports performance aid is hydration.
Serious athletes make sure to consume plenty of water. But hydration is about more than water. Although 99 out of 100 molecules in the body are water, you can’t hydrate optimally with water alone. You need minerals and nutrients to conduct key electrical impulses through the body.
That includes muscle contraction (movement), smart decision-making, and endurance. On the flip side, symptoms of inadequate electrolytes include low energy, headaches, agitation, mood issues, brain fog, headaches, weakness, and muscle cramps.
We often don’t get enough electrolytes from our diet due to modern living. Improper water consumption, following diets, consuming caffeine, experiencing stress, intense exercise, sauna use/sweating, drinking alcohol, etc. Each of these depletes our electrolyte levels. So we turn to special electrolyte formulas.
Common sports drinks are basically sodium mixed with refined sugar, water, and flavoring. These synthetic formulas give you a slight quick boost that lasts minutes. Then your performance dips below the baseline as you “crash”. All at the expense of your long-term health and performance.
That’s why there’s been a huge influx of clean electrolyte products. You’ll want to find something that sources a blend of whole food-based electrolytes, minerals, and trace minerals. Don’t be fooled by the dosages listed on some product labels. Your body doesn’t actually absorb and assimilate synthetic nutrients very well.
Coconut water is a big step up as it’s rich in potassium. But it’s also very high in sugar and has laxative effects in large doses. And it’s missing many nutrients. Despite that, I used coconut water for decades. Then I found a better alternative.
I’ve tested a bunch and Paleovalley makes the best, highest-quality electrolyte product. It contains a full spectrum of hydrating ingredients. Unprocessed ancient sea salt, organic coconut water, seaweed extract, seawater, and 60+ trace minerals.
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Collagen & Functional Mushrooms
One of the first places athletes should start is with traditional ergogenic aids. The safe and effective supplements used for thousands of years.
High on that list is a functional mushroom called cordyceps. Cordyceps consumed via capsule or powder produce immediate and noticeable energy. A clean and smooth, non-depleting stimulation. This is a legal ingredient that some Olympic gold medalists claimed as their competitive edge. It improves endurance, cellular energy generation (ATP), makes exercise feel easier, and improves other parameters of sports performance. It’s a key ingredient in my homemade pre-workout drink recipe.
Yet at the same time, a good portion of exercise is not physical but rather cognitive. Another adaptogenic mushroom called Lion’s Mane helps the brain create new neurons and wire them faster. Speeding up skill development and mastery. It also helps the nervous system rapidly recover from intense exercise.
Then, you have collagen which is the most abundant protein throughout the body. Collagen’s the primary component of connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, skin, and muscles). It keeps bones strong, reduces pain, and helps build more muscle & strength. Collagen is also a foundational longevity supplement.
You can either find high-quality sources for each of these ingredients individually, or get all together (and other beneficial functional ingredients I didn’t even mention) in a product called CollaGenius. Click the button below to check it out.
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If there’s just one dirt-cheap ingredient you can use, make it salt. Salt is not the public health villain it’s portrayed as. This mineral has a sad, misunderstood history. As thoroughly documented in Dr. James DiNicolantonio’s book The Salt Fix, low salt (more than sodium) intake is more harmful than high consumption.
For everyone but those genetically sensitive to salt.
Salt is the ultimate ergogenic for optimal exercise performance. It’s also electrolyte-sparing. When we don’t consume enough salt we develop an imbalance. The body will pull sodium, magnesium, and calcium from bone to compensate. You don’t want that.
According to his analysis of all existing research, those exercising one hour per day should aim to consume about 5,000mg of salt. Far exceeding the RDA.
Dr. James recommends this drink pre-sport in his other book Win:
- 2 teaspoons of salt (2,300mg sodium per teaspoon)
- ~1 L of fluid
- 1.5-3g of glycine for every 1000mg of sodium to reduce G.I. distress
Start consuming 105 minutes before the performance. Divide the drink into six different intervals. Slowly, evenly, and steadily consume it over time.
Even if you don’t make the drink, occasionally putting a pinch of high-quality sea salt under your tongue can rapidly and profoundly improve your output (and reduce cramping).
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Creatine could be the most studied sports supplement of all time.
It’s most useful for short, anaerobic bursts, strength, power, and max efforts. Creatine also doubles as a beginner’s brain-enhancing nootropic ingredient. It’s not, however, very effective for endurance sports.
Creatine accelerates recovery and improves performance by increasing the amount of water and nutrient exchange in muscle tissue. The most common form, creatine monohydrate, can cause temporary weight gain due to that water retention. Your weight returns to normal after cycling off creatine. Contrary to some of the claims, creatine has no negative impact on the kidneys in users without prior conditions and when used at normal doses.
Before the recent supply chain issues, a serving of creatine cost pennies. It’s now a tad more expensive but still quite cheap when purchased in bulk. Typical dosage recommendations are 2-5g per day, depending on the amount of meat consumed. Those that eat a lot of meat can dose on the lower end, while vegetarians and vegans often report feeling amazing at 5 grams daily.
There’s a cutting-edge form of creatine that’s poised to dethrone monohydrate. It’s a proprietary blend that contains the precursor guanidinoacetic acid (GAA). Hence the name, CreGAAtine. This form is over 8X better absorbed, has stronger cognitive/nootropic effects, and causes less water retention. Most people are fine with monohydrate, but elite athletes will probably prefer CreGAAtine.
Medium Chain Triglycerides (C8 MCTs)
Medium Chain Triglycerides are a special kind of “super fat” that bypasses normal metabolism and quickly provides the brain and body with a clean-burning fuel source. It’s a powerful alternative to glucose that supports long-lasting energy, and mental sharpness while training.
MCT usually comes in oil. Although it contains calories, it increases the thermic effect of food and promotes body fat loss. It also strengthens the gut, which is vital because intense exercise can cause GI distress.
Most importantly, MCT enhances endurance activity performance, improves exercise duration, and reduces levels of fatigue-inducing lactate. It’s not all equal though.
You’ll want the highest purity MCT oil for the best effects and least side effects. Look for 100% C8 MCT (pure caprylic acid).
Start slowly with just 1/4 tsp to minimize gastric discomfort.
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Essential Amino Acids
Amino acids are the raw materials of life. Depending on your reference, there are 20-23 amino acids. The three most famous are called the branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) and they are included in most workout supplements.
Your mitochondria metabolize BCCAs which results in increased energy and better athletic performance. But here’s the thing many sports scientists and supplement formulators don’t know… the BCAAs are not enough.
Research suggests they have some major detrimental effects on performance. What you need instead, are nine of all the amino acids. These nine are called essential amino acids because they’re the only nine the body cannot produce on its own.
EAAs prevent muscle breakdown, reduce “bonking”/“hitting the wall”, accelerate recovery, reduce injury risk, increase lean mass and muscle strength, and improve most measures of athleticism.
They’re so important that I wrote the ultimate guide to essential amino acids for health and performance. 5-15g peri-workout (pre-workout, intra-workout, and/or post-workout) makes a huge difference.
KetoneAid is well-known for selling products preferred by Olympians and professional athletes. Specifically, their exogenous ketone supplements. They also make one of the cleanest and most effective pre-workout products on the market.
It’s called SnakeWater, and it’s a fusion of ketone esters, ketone salts, electrolytes, and the best energy-boosting nootropics. Great for both endurance and anaerobic power events alike.
SnakeWater ingredients include:
- BioBHB Ketones (3000mg)
- Ketone Ester (60%)
- Ketone Salt/Free Acid (40%)
- Vitamins, minerals, electrolytes
- Sodium (99mg)
- Potassium (70mg)
- B12 (12.5mcg)
- Niacin (5mg)
- BCAA 2:1:1 (375mg)
- Isomaltulose (3000mg)
- Energy complex
- Dynamine (65mg)
- Teacrine (25mg)
- L-Taurine (100mg)
- L-Theanine (20mg)
- Mind-body complex
- N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine (NALT) (300mg)
- Beta Alanine (250mg)
- Huperzine A (25mcg)
SnakeWater is one of the ultimate caffeine-free energy drinks. The vitamins, minerals, aminos, electrolytes, and slow-release, low-glycemic carbs provide the body with the necessary raw materials. Then the energy complex sustainably improves both short and long-term performance.
It improves the functionality of both the brain and the body. They are making it a solid choice for serious athletes and students alike. Plus, folks report benefits from consuming just 1/4 of a bottle.
Combined with some quality protein and creatine post-workout, you have an amazing high-performance stack. It’s not cheap but compares favorably to a cup of coffee at a boutique shop.
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Virtually every pre-workout and intra-workout product contain stimulants like caffeine. Caffeine is well-studied to promote greater performance by reducing perceived exertion, increasing wakefulness, and reducing pain. But caffeine has all kinds of side effects. And it’s terrible for certain people who have genetic sensitivities to caffeine.
Even fast caffeine metabolizers develop habituation, tolerance, and lower baseline performance when not on caffeine. Meaning that they live below normal, only to rise back up to baseline for several hours during the peak of caffeine’s effects. Then there are the issues of dehydration, GI upset, nutrient malabsorption, anxiousness, and impaired sleep.
When you consume coffee, about 80 percent of it converts into a related molecule called paraxanthine. Paraxanthine is responsible for virtually all of caffeine’s benefits, and none of the drawbacks. It also feels much cleaner. Paraxanthine’s simply a better, more effective, safer caffeine alternative. Each all of caffeine’s beneficial effects on performance, paraxanthine does better. Which is why I wrote the ultimate guide to performance-enhancing paraxanthine.
Only four products contain paraxanthine currently. I expect this to start appearing in virtually all pre-workouts and energy-boosting nootropics over the next few years.
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Like a pure essential amino acids supplement, protein provides the amino needed to build and repair muscle. As well as supporting all other tissues throughout the body. Overwhelming data places protein as one of the most effective interventions to improve muscle and build strength. Protein also accelerates workout recovery and can improve hormone levels.
This is a staple supplement of virtually every elite athlete. Whey protein, in particular, is special. Whey is considered a complete protein meaning that it contains all essential amino acids. And, it has the perfect ratios of each to support exercise performance and rebuilding tissues. As explained in my review of high-quality, grass-fed whey, this protein also features a diverse array of vitamins, minerals, growth factors, peptides, and other safe anabolic agents. These are naturally present and at levels legal for sports. Yet they make a profound difference.
I particularly like one grass-fed whey protein that’s delicious and fortified with extra bovine colostrum. Colostrum is a natural ingredient often called “nature’s growth elixir”. Making it a powerful substance to improve athleticism. Colostrum’s so effective that, although it’s incredibly safe, some sporting bodies have banned it to “keep the playing field even”.
Regardless of which product you choose, research suggests that athletes should aim to consume 0.9-1.2g of protein per pound of ideal body weight.
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Salt isn’t the only unknown performance enhancer in your pantry. Another ubiquitous ingredient called sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), helps reduce fatigue and extend performance. This is a popular one with competitive athletes on a budget.
Baking soda isn’t often considered a supplement, but it has full-body health benefits. It helps offset the high-acid environment of heavy protein consumption, and most importantly, it buffers the hydrogen ions responsible for exercise-induced fatigue. Sodium bicarb also helps with electrolyte balance, it alleviates aches and pains, and supports the immune system.
A new 2023 study showed baking soda improves “muscular endurance, power, and velocity”. I suspect the effects would have been even greater, but the researchers made the mistake of using sodium as the placebo. Sodium also has ergogenic benefits.
For best effects, they used 0.3g baking soda per kg of body weight, and consumed 180-60 minutes before exercise. Start low and gradually increase the dose to avoid potential side effects of stomach discomfort and diarrhea.
Adaptogens are a special class of botanicals that must fulfill strict body-rebalancing criteria. These are some of the oldest known supplements, revered for their notable effects and outstanding safety profiles.
Every single culture worldwide had its favorite adaptogens. Some improve performance by building stress resilience, some increase endurance, some increase power, some sharpen the mind, and more.
Adaptogens experienced a resurgence when Russian military personnel begin using them to great success. Scientists documented their effects and they spread to the general public. Then elite athletes began using them as staples in their regiments.
Adaptogens great for enhancing physical performance include:
- Ginseng (Panax and Siberian)
Dosage, uses, benefits, and information varies between substances. Most, however, work by protecting the body against the damage caused by heavy training routines.
There are tons of great sources, just make sure that the manufacturer uses the highest quality raw materials and doesn’t take shortcuts.
If you’ve ever used a pre-workout supplement, you’ve probably consumed (and felt) beta-alanine. This is another staple sports performance ingredient and it’s now becoming popular in the longevity/anti-aging field. Beta-alanine reduces muscular fatigue and stabilizes force production.
The longer and more intense the exercise, the greater loss of force output and athletic performance. Beta-alanine reduces this by, again, buffering muscle pH. It does so by increasing the synthesis of a dipeptide called carnosine. I notice that it’s especially effective in longer-duration sports and activities.
It also stacks nicely with other compounds on this list.
Beta-alanine is a nitric oxide inducer, which increases the transport of oxygen and nutrients throughout the bloodstream.
With a normal dose of 2-4g, you may feel some tingling in the face, neck, hands, and torso. It subsides after a few uses. Beta-alanine works great for some people and is cheap, so it’s worth testing.
Betaine, also known as trimethylglycine (TMG), is another ingredient that’s gained popularity due to the longevity sector. Its athletic performance benefits aren’t as well known, but the research is mounting.
https://outliyr.com/betaine-tmg-amzThis is a potent cardioprotective methyl donor that supports whole-body methylation, and increased levels of protective S-Adenosyl Methionine (SAMe). Betaine improves body recomposition as well as performance. Researchers believe that it improves endogenous creatine production & bioavailability, cellular hydration, and nitric acid in the blood.
Some studies show modest strength and power-based performance benefits. Two show “increases of up to 24.61% on strength and power as a result of [betaine] supplementation”.
Betaine appears to be another supplement that helps muscular endurance and high-repetition exercise. It also encourages the use of fat for fuel (lipolysis). TMG may even accelerate muscle building and recovery via increased muscle protein synthesis.
There’s no definitive dosage for betaine. However, 2-3g per day (divided into 1-2 doses) appears to be the closest to the general recommendation.
Yet another amino acid on this list, glutamine is regarded as the amino of repair and regeneration. It’s great for gut health, and vital for optimal energy production and overall metabolic function. Glutamine has a few other cool tricks up its sleeve.
The body can convert glutamine into glucose but without the disruption and consequences of consuming sugar.
Two of the three energy pathways in the body require glucose. Making this an interesting performance enhancer.
Other research suggests that glutamine aids recovery and muscle growth. Especially after tough exercise. It also transiently increases levels of growth hormone.
This wouldn’t be one of the first things I use, but it can play a useful role in the supplement stack for a fully optimized athlete.
Beets & Watermelon
Finally, we have two ergogenic foods. Both beets and watermelon are nitric oxide precursors. They naturally dilate blood vessels and improve your efficiency of oxygen utilization.
Actual data on these (and their supplement forms) isn’t the strongest. But the limited research suggests it’s most useful for endurance athletes. Ironically, yielding the most effective results in less trained individuals.
Basically, beets and watermelons extend performance and improve event completion time.
I stopped taking beetroot extract powder because I didn’t feel it was worth the cost and had hesitations about using nitric oxide precursors due to their effect on cellular energy generation (inhibition of cytochrome c oxidase).
Nonetheless, these would make a decent pre-exercise snack.
Intermediate Ergogenic Aids
The performance-enhancing nutrients, supplements, and drugs listed in this section are for the more experienced.
Mainly either due to price or a narrower therapeutic window.
Nonetheless, these are effective tools for athletes competing at the upper echelons.
Ketone esters are a secret weapon of many of the world’s greatest athletes. Especially endurance athletes. Many years ago when production was incredibly difficult, Tour de France cyclists paid nearly $1,000 per serving. Dave Asprey is rumored to have paid $25,000 for a single serving.
Luckily today you can get similar effects for just a couple of dollars per serving. Yes, over 5,000X cheaper.
This molecule is a super fuel for the body and acts like a “light switch” for the brain. Normally, your liver naturally produces therapeutic quantities of it after several days of fasting. Ketone esters increase levels of D-BHB which has a cascade of health and performance benefits.
Ketone esters do everything C8 MCT oil does, but better. And these exogenous ketone supplements have their own additional benefits too.
They reduce the accelerated aging damage caused by heavy training volume. They increase energy levels. They improve mood. They promote better, more restorative sleep. And most importantly, they enhance athletic performance.
Note that this is very different than the ketogenic ethanol-free alcohol, R1,3 butanediol.
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5 Amino 1MQ
5-Amino 1MQ is an effective ergogenic small molecule that often flies under the radar. Scientists designed it while searching for analogs of methylquinolinium to inhibit an enzyme called NNMT.
As it turns out, inhibiting NNMT has some miraculous performance benefits.
First, it improves fat burning. 5-Amino 1MQ also enhances neuromuscular control. By boosting the mind-body-muscle connection, athletes can contract muscle more powerfully while using this substance. Resulting in higher performance and faster results from training. It also reduces some of the oxidative stress damage caused by huge training loads.
5-Amino 1MQ is the perfect body recomposition-enhancing agent. Facilitating fat loss while also helping preserve muscle and potentially even build new muscle.
Excitingly, this is also one of the powerful ergogenics that is orally bioavailable. No injections or other crazy routes of administration.
It’s fairly difficult to find online, and expensive, so I’d only recommend it to advanced athletes. So far, I haven’t seen any indication that it’s banned by sporting regulators. Although that could certainly change.
The generally recommended dose is 50-150mg with food in the mornings, for up to 30 days.
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Surprised to see iron in the intermediate section? Iron is a double-edged mineral.
At optimal levels, it improves the ability of hemoglobin to carry oxygen. In anemic folks, getting enough can have game-changing effects. On the other end of the spectrum, however, too much iron “rusts your organs”.
So you should only experiment with this one under the close supervision of a health professional. Even then, they should first decode your genetics and monitor your blood biomarkers.
What makes iron especially confusing is its intricate relationship with other minerals like copper as well as the storage form called ferritin. While anemia is virtually always associated with iron deficiency, inadequate copper can also cause it.
Rather than questionable iron supplements, most people can do well getting a little extra from bioavailable food (meat) and other safer sources.
Advanced & Experimental Performance Enhancers
These substances deserve respect.
They’re either less researched, even more expensive, or outright banned for use in sports.
That said, some are also incredibly efficacious and healthy (like peptides).
Do your legal and medical diligence before using these ergogens. Always consult your medical professional and/or coach.
Proteins are long strings of amino acids. They largely govern the functions and processes of the body and mind. Peptides, on the other hand, are short sequences of amino acids. This is an entire class of compounds, often naturally produced within the body.
Over the last decade, doctors have increasingly relied on peptides as miracle therapeutics. When conventional options fail, peptides often succeed. Certain peptides and their fragments target different body parts and systems.
Peptides uniquely benefit both the injured and sick and also the fully optimized alike. So, an ill patient may use a peptide stack to bring their immune system back online, a biohacker will use them to improve sleep quality or longevity, and athletes use them for all kinds of things.
To bulletproof their gut, to recover faster from workouts, to regenerate brain function faster post-TBI, to accelerate the healing of serious injuries, to rapidly build muscle, etc.
Some peptides even optimize levels of the hormonal “fountain of you” — human growth hormone. Growth hormone alone helps shed body fat, put on muscle, sleep deeper, slow biological aging, and much more.
This class of ergogenics is incredibly safe and effective, so naturally, major sporting bodies like WADA are banning peptides.
Nevertheless, if you’re competing in a sport that allows them, peptides give you a massive advantage.
Unfortunately, most peptides on the market are unregulated junk. You’re equally likely to have harmful side effects as you are to benefit. I recommend one source that I’ve personally vetted and know does things right. If you’re new to this, I also suggest you pick up my free guide to help you avoid the most common peptide mistakes.
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Tesofensine is another small molecule that’s becoming quite popular among elite athletes needing to quickly transform their bodies. It’s a noradrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine (triple monoamine) reuptake inhibitor, originally studied to combat Alzheimer’s and then later depression. Before it was abandoned for those purposes, clinicians noted one consistent side effect during trials: significant weight loss. Without any other lifestyle changes.
Each of the primary mechanisms lends itself to athletic advantage:
- Dopamine reuptake inhibition increases drive and motivation and the ability to withstand exertion
- Serotonin reuptake inhibition reduces appetite and improves mood
- Noradrenaline reuptake inhibition increases calorie burn at rest (basal metabolic rate)
While it has a potent fat-loss-boosting effect, it also improves cognition. Tesofensine massively boosts the production of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), the protein dubbed “Miracle-Gro” for the brain. Improving skill development and ability to tap into and sustain the flow state. The elusive state of seemingly effortless peak performance.
Plus, it has favorable effects on health biomarkers like cholesterol.
Again, this is another powerful fat-burning agent that comes in capsule form. No injections are required. It’s that, a nootropic, and so much more. The recommended dose is 0.5mg immediately in the morning on an empty stomach. I would take a day or two off every week, and use it for no longer than 4 months straight.
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Bromantane (Ladasten) is a drug that was one of my favorite discoveries of ~2021. It’s a gentle yet long-acting synthetic adaptogen (a supplement category called actoprotectants) developed by the Russians to help their military and cosmonauts build resilience against extremely inhospitable conditions.
Bromantane lifts focus, mood, motor coordination, and movement performance, while simultaneously increasing wakefulness and productivity and protecting the immune system.
What’s especially interesting about this compound is its non-addictive, non-depleting, non-habit forming, and long-lasting effects. The beneficial neurochemical changes persist months after stopping usage.
Bromantane works differently than most stimulants. It increases dopamine by improving the bottleneck conversion of tyrosine into L-dopa (by increasing the activity of the enzyme Tyrosine Hydroxylase). It’s one of the few stimulants that don’t worsen conditions related to worry and nervousness.
This one is so strong that it was specifically banned by WADA for its performance-enhancing benefits. I use it occasionally and find that tiny doses (10-30mg) are plenty. Do note that the effects start kicking in after 1.5-2.5 hours after ingestion.
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GW-501516 (also called Endurobol and Cardarine) was an anti-cancer therapeutic developed in the 1990s but later repurposed as scientists uncovered its power to improve metabolic conditions. Then athletes discovered its profound ability to increase exercise endurance, and it quickly caught on from there.
Research has shown that Cardarine has all kinds of benefits relevant to athletes. From improving lipid biomarkers (cholesterol, VLDL, HDL, Triglycerides), to protecting metabolic health, decreasing body fat, activating the PPAR gene associated with enhancing endurance, and faster workout recovery.
GW-501516 is a strong activator of AMPK. Helping muscles better utilize glucose and increasing their ability to burn fat. It also helps nourish the body’s cells by promoting better vascular blood supply through a process called angiogenesis.
Although an early trial showed megadoses may increase the growth of certain cancers, follow-up studies didn’t find that. In fact, they showed it can be protective. Later research showed Cardarine has no serious side effects in both healthy users and also tobacco users, alcohol drinkers, and recreational drug users.
Cardarine has a 16-24 hour half-life, so experts recommend using 10mg daily for up to eight weeks. Since it improves fat burning, it pairs nicely with a low-carb diet.
I personally used this one for a few cycles while under a massive training load, and it literally doubled my endurance capacity and time to exhaustion. It was my secret weapon. That said, however, it’s also banned by the regulatory sports committees, so avoid this one for high-level competitive sports.
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Myo-Inositol Trispyrophosphate (ITPP)
Myo-Inositol Trispyrophosphate is a synthetic drug that helps red blood cells (hemoglobin) work better. Myo-inositol is an amino acid and neurotransmitter mimetic. It became popular as an ergogen in humans and also in horse races. The idea is that increased oxygen delivery to muscles improves their function and output capacity.
This one was originally investigated to aid those recovering from myocardial issues.
One mouse study found that it can improve endurance exercise capacity by up to 57%. It also seems to offset some of the detrimental effects of exercising in a low-oxygen environment (hypoxia). ITPP also improves insulin sensitivity.
This article compares it to the other famous blood booster, EPO.
This is another compound that is bioavailable when taken orally via capsules. For obvious performance-enhancing reasons, it’s also banned by WADA. Some folks swear by 100mg per day, 4 days on 4 days off.
There’s very little human data available, so proceed with caution.
I personally haven’t used it and would be very careful with ITPP.
Athletic Performance Enhancers Warranting Further Research
There are lots of other powerful ways to improve athletic performance.
The subject could easily fill entire books. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll mention some more here to guide your research.
A few other popular ergogenic substances include:
- Phenylpiracetam (fonturacetam hydrazide)
- ARA 290
- Bemethyl (aka Bimitil)
- Ibutamoren (MK-677)
- Ant extract
While some of these substances are great and powerful, athletes can improve performance without ingesting anything.
Performance-enhancing therapies and habits include:
- Brown’s Gas (upgraded molecular hydrogen)
- KAATSU protocols
- Red light therapy
- Infrared sauna
- Ice bathing
- Pre-cooling the palms, ears, forehead, cheeks, and bottoms of feet in water 59+ degrees
Using Ergogenic Aids to Consistently Maximize Your Athletic Performance
Virtually everyone at elite levels uses little-known tactics to ensure their optimal performance and recover like a superhuman.
Each has a different therapeutic risk versus reward window.
But here’s the thing…
Despite what you may see on TV, performance enhancement doesn’t necessarily harm your health, well-being, or longevity.
On the contrary.
The right ergogenics actually improve your baseline performance.
And they’re easily, legally, and affordably accessible to the general public.
Elite athletes use these compounds and therapies decades before the general public. Leading to the truism…Bodybuilders and elite athletes are the original biohackers Click To Tweet
Of course, if you’re competing, you’ll want to make sure everything you use is 100% legal for your activity.
For the rest of us, however, these athletic performance enhancers give us a greater Return on Investment (time and energy R.O.I) on our workouts. Sometimes also making them more enjoyable.
What about you?
Do you use any drug, supplement, nutrition, or other therapeutic ergogenic aids? Drop a comment below and let’s make this a conversation.