The right combination of supplements can really enhance your CrossFit training.
However, knowing which supplements to take and which to ignore isn’t always easy. There’s a lot of hype and marketing in the supplements industry, and reading study after study about what works and what doesn’t isn’t possible for everyone.
That’s why we put together this essential CrossFit supplements guide. It’ll break down the basic things you should be taking to hit your CrossFit goals faster and boost recovery without breaking the bank.
*Be sure to speak to your physician before using supplements during training. The information in this article is not a substitute for medical advice.
Best Supplements for CrossFit
Here’s a list of some commonly used supplements in CrossFit:
- Whey protein. Used primarily to promote protein synthesis after tough workouts. Also used to increase overall protein intake throughout the day to promote muscle hypertrophy.
- Fish oil. Fish oil reduces inflammation, keeps the body’s omega 3 to omega 6 ratio in a healthy spot, and can even help with weight loss.
- Creatine monohydrate. Creatine has been shown to improve athletic performance in both endurance and strength training metrics. It’s a common supplement taken to increase overall gains from CrossFit.
- Pre-workout. A combination of caffeine, vitamins, creatine, and other supplements helps prepare your body and mind for exercise.
- Branch chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAAs provide leucine, isoleucine and valine (three essential amino acids) your body needs for recovery.
- Post-workout carb supplement. A fast-digesting carbohydrate has been shown to spark recovery after workouts.
Keep in mind, you can’t out-supplement a bad diet or inconsistent training schedule. It’s very important to note that no supplements mentioned on this list will help you achieve your CrossFit goals if you aren’t training hard and following a healthy diet.
Remember, supplements are meant to add to what you’re already doing.
Best Whey Protein CrossFit
Best Budget Whey Protein
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder, Mocha Cappuccino, 5 Pound (Packaging May...See latest price
One of the most accessible and recognizable whey protein brands on the market, ON whey powder checks off all the boxes for CrossFit athletes. It’s high in protein, low in carbs, and offers 5 grams of essential amino acids per scoop. It’s also priced reasonably (about $10/pound or less depending on time of year) and can be purchased online or in many different stores.
Best Whey Protein for Weight Loss
Ascent Native Fuel Whey Protein Powder - Chocolate Peanut Butter - 2 lbsSee latest price
Whey isolate is purer than regular whey protein. It undergoes a second step during processing which yields fewer calories, fat, and carbs per scoop and just as much protein in the final product. Ascent’s powder is still affordable and offers similar nutrition benefits to some whey isolate powders that cost twice as much. Save that money for other supplements or to invest in home gym equipment.
Best Health-Conscious Whey Protein
Raw Grass Fed Whey 5LB - Happy Healthy Cows, COLD PROCESSED Undenatured 100% Grass Fed Whey Protein...See latest price
Many whey protein products contain fillers, dyes, and other ingredients that water down the product. Some ingredients in cheaper powders are actually bad for you. But you don’t have to worry about that with this Raw Cold Pressed Whey. It’s made with only one ingredients, flavorless, and still priced reasonably low.
Best BCAA Supplement CrossFit
Best Budget BCAA Supplement
XTEND Sport BCAA Powder Blue Raspberry Ice - Electrolyte Powder for Recovery & Hydration with Amino...See latest price
A simple, affordable product that comes in a variety of flavors. XTEND’s BCAA capsules are perfect for CrossFit athletes because they’re loaded with natural electrolytes to help restore hydration after tough workouts.
Best BCAA Supplement for Weight Loss
Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy - Pre Workout with Green Tea, BCAA, Amino Acids, Keto Friendly, Green...See latest price
A deviation from ON’s normal BCAA product, their Essential Amino Energy capsules contain green tea. Green tea has been proven in scientific studies to aid in weight loss. Just be sure to monitor your intake with pre-workout, as taking multiple stimulants might be a little too much “juice” right before a workout.
Best Plant-Based BCAA Supplement for CrossFit
Truth Nutrition Vegan BCAA Powder- 2:1:1 Ratio All Natural Branched Chain Amino Acids for Energy,...See latest price
More and more vegans, vegetarians, and plant-based folks are trying CrossFit. Truth Nutrition makes vegan BCAA capsules that help restore muscle function and boost recovery after workouts. Even the ingredients they use to flavor their powders come from natural ingredients.
Best Creatine Supplements for CrossFit
Best Budget Creatine Monohydrate Supplement
Nutricost Creatine Monohydrate Micronized Powder (1 KG) - Pure Creatine MonohydrateSee latest price
Buying creatine can be confusing. Many pre and post-workout supplements contain it, but your best bet is a flavorless powder taken separately from other products. Nutricost offers a no-nonsense powder that mixes easily with water. Thousands of reviewers say it positively impacted performance.
Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Powder, Unflavored, Keto Friendly, 120 Servings...See latest price
Another no-frills creatine supplement that easily mixes with water. You might choose this one over Nutricost if you’re buying ON supplements in bulk and want to save money.
Best Carb Supplements
Best Budget Carb Supplement for CrossFit
NOW Sports Nutrition, Waxy Maize Powder, White, 5.5 lbSee latest price
Taking in carbs right after a tough workout helps boost recovery, especially if you’re doubling up workouts or training several days in a row. NOW’s Waxy Maize is a complex starch that’s absorbed slowly by the body to replace glucose in muscles. It mixes easily with water or when mixed together with water and whey protein.
Low-Cost Alternative Option
Amazon Brand - Happy Belly Quick Cook Oats, 18 OunceSee latest price
If you don’t mind chewing your shakes, try mixing half a cup of oats into your whey protein shaker instead. This is an easy way to give your body the fuel it needs without taking up more space on your supplement shelf.
Best CrossFit Pre WOD Supplement
Best Overall Pre WOD Supplement
Push Pre-Workout Powder (Fruit Punch) by SFH | BCAAs for Muscle Repair | Electrolytes | Non-Dairy,...See latest price
Preworkout can be expensive. Like whey protein, it’s also easy to buy something that sounds good but is actually just full of fillers and dyes. SFH Push contains the major ingredients you look for in a pre WOD supplement (caffeine, BCAAs, beta alanine, and electrolytes), tastes great, and enhances blood flow with the addition of citrulline.
Low Cost Pre WOD Supplement Alternative: Black Coffee or tea (any brand)
Many CrossFit athletes swear by a cup of coffee and a light meal (some fruit or other fast digesting carbs) 60 minutes before they workout. Coffee contains natural caffeine, after all. Just don’t overdo it, as too much caffeine may dehydrate you or give you jitters going into your workout.
Best CrossFit Post Workout Supplement
Best Overall Post Workout Supplement
Legion Recharge Post Workout Supplement - All Natural Muscle Builder & Recovery Drink with...See latest price
Legion’s blend of creatine, electrolytes, L carnitine and L tartrate (chemicals similar to amino acids) help get your body into recovery mode right after a tough WOD. The powder comes highly rated with thousands of reviews and is affordable. Make sure you eat a meal after you workout to boost gains, too.
Best BCAA Post Workout Supplement
Muscle Pharm Essentials BCAA Powder, Post-Workout Recovery Drink, Fruit Punch, 30 ServingsSee latest price
If you’re already taking creatine monohydrate and just looking for a boost of amino acids, MP’s Essentials brand fits the bill. Each scoop has 6 grams of BCAAs to help get your body back to its peak. The product also contains no sugar.
Best Recovery Supplements for CrossFit
Recovering from CrossFit workouts is just as important as any other aspect of the sport. The faster you recover, the more often you can train at a high-intensity.
Here are some supplements you should consider to yield the best recovery:
Nature’s Bounty Fish Oil, 1200mg, 360mcg of Omega-3, 200 Rapid Release SoftgelsSee latest price
Fish oil helps improve cardiovascular health and reduce inflammation in the body. It’s long been advocated for by health experts who understand CrossFit. Use an online calculator or speak to a health coach to see how much you should be taking each day for recovery. The needs of a CrossFitter are often higher than the average person.
#1- Amazon Elements Turmeric Complex, 316 mg Curcumin, 140 mg Ginger, 5 mg Black Pepper - Joint & Immune...See latest price
An ancient herb that’s been around for thousands of years, many athletes now use turmeric (or curcumin) to reduce inflammation as well. Turmeric contains powerful antioxidants that help improve health conditions and get your body right after a workout. Amazon’s brand is among the cheapest you’ll find online.
Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve Tablets, Helps You Fall Asleep Faster, Stay Asleep Longer, Easy to...See latest price
Melatonin is an important hormone that helps regulate the body’s sleep cycle. Some athletes use it to improve the amount of deep sleep they get and to fall asleep faster. Sleep plays a critical role in muscle recovery and overall health, so it’s definitely a supplement CrossFit athletes should consider.
#1- Nature Made Vitamin B12 1000 mcg Softgels, 90 Count for Metabolic HealthSee latest price
B vitamins are essential for overall health. They have a direct effect on brain function, energy, and your metabolism. Deficiencies in old age can actually lead to muscle frailty and weakness, which is why it’s a good idea to take if you’re training frequently.
Doctor's Best High Absorption Magnesium Glycinate Lysinate, 100% Chelated, Non-GMO, Vegan, Gluten &...See latest price
Magnesium is a crucial mineral your nervous system and muscles need to stay healthy. Recent studies have shown that high intensity workout performance may decline if you are deficient in magnesium. It also helps relax you, which could be good if you have trouble falling asleep at night.
Best CrossFit Supplements Brands
CrossFit works closely with a number of companies like Rogue and No Bull. Currently there is no official CrossFit supplement brand.
Your best bet when looking for CrossFit supplements is to do your research and pick supplements on a case-by-case basis. Always look at the price point, as you’ll often be able to find cheaper supplements containing the same ingredients.
Unfortunately, marketing is a huge component of the supplement injury, which can make it hard to know what to take.
CrossFit Supplements for Weight Loss
Taking weight loss supplements for CrossFit isn’t really necessary.
That said, there are a few things you might consider taking that has been shown to improve fat burning results:
- Caffeine. Caffeine has a natural thermogenic effect, meaning it burns more calories and boosts your metabolism. Don’t overdo it, though. One or two cups of coffee per day, for example, is enough to stimulate this benefit without the side-effects (jitters, anxiety, excessive sweating) that can come from drinking too much caffeine.
- Exogenous ketones. If you’re using a low-carb diet for weight loss, exogenous ketones could help expedite your weight loss. Studies show using exogenous ketones can help to improve blood ketone levels, which could help you reap the fat loss benefits of ketosis faster.
If you workout consistently, follow a healthy diet and learn to control your portions, weight loss will happen. Either of these supplements might speed that process up a bit.
Supplement CrossFit Strength Training
If your CrossFit training heavily skews towards weightlifting, you might have different supplementary needs.
Strength athletes should definitely be taking the essentials for muscle growth:
- Whey protein
- Creatine monohydrate
Other supplements like fish oil and melatonin could help with recovery. But if your goal is simply to add numbers to your lifts, you should really be focused more on diet than any specific number of supplements.
Eating right at—or slightly above—your caloric baseline for the day will help give your body the fuel it needs to recover and get stronger.