For cyclists who take tours and long trips, it is essential to pack snacks along for the road. Supplements are crucial to filling the gap amid your journey replenishing vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and other vital nutrients to keep you going. Lacking in any of these nutrients can be consequential and result in soreness, poor performance, illness, low blood pressure, etc.
Today we go over some of the best supplements for cycling to keep you refreshed and pushing hard for the next mile.
Commonly a mixture of simple sugars and whey protein, these are excellent for strength training and pro circuit training. In addition to the benefits of whey protein, the carbohydrate helps recover the energy burned throughout the exercise. Whey protein will help refill lost energy, and the liquid will aid re-hydration. Carbohydrate is the primary source to build up strength while you ride.
For the duration of your trip, muscle fibers break down, mainly if the journey is longer. You get sturdier as muscle fiber reconstructs, and ingesting protein facilitates ‘muscle protein syntheses, in other words, retrieval and adaptation of protein.
Caffeine offers both a mental and physical boost when consumed with your cycling diet. You will notice significant branded caffeine products advertise improved fat mobilization and fat burning, hence leading to better performance. When taken with a dose of sugar, caffeine gives your body a neurological lift.
International road cyclist, dietician, and sports lecturer Danielle Clay in an interview with TotalWomensCycling  explained the importance of caffeine as follows:
“Yes. Caffeine stimulates you mentally at first, and physically later.
“You may feel a little bit smarter and a little bit stronger. There is some evidence that caffeine improves muscle contraction,”
The human body retains carbs through the help of Glycogen (a storage molecule), which starts burning as soon as we start cycling. Caffeine provides what is known as the “glycogen sparing effect” which enhances your ability to burn fat instead of glycogen (hence carbs). The retention of glycogen allows your body to retain carbohydrates towards the end of your training, race, or tour.
Studies have concluded that a dosage of 3-6 mg/kg is necessary for performance enhancement. A 250 ml cup of brewed coffee will hold 115 mg of caffeine. For practice, short races, and daily rides take a dose of about 2mg/kg body weight 60 minutes before you start. For lengthier tours and races take approximately 50mg per hour of racing.
These supplements are essential building blocks for cyclists. You already get them from your daily cycling diet, but extracting ideal amounts from food be an actual challenge to do so. A decent multivitamin and mineral supplement will not harm and should be taken for recovery & to avoid injury.
Fish oils are also known for their anti-inflammatory, joint & bone strengthening, and immunity benefits. Even the WHO (World Health Organization) recommends consuming two portions of fish per weeks for better well being.Bicycling.com mentions four essential multi-vitamin supplements that cyclists should consume to avoid weakness, muscle soreness, and enhance muscle recovery:
Beta-Alanine is extensively researched to help with recurrent sprints and flows of power. The human body naturally produces the beta-alanine amino acid and is known to boost sports performance. Beta-alanine increases muscle levels of a natural substance called carnosine . Increasing the levels of carnosine triggers the body to reduce the buildup of fatiguing lactate during high-intensity sports.
Sprinters, road cyclists, MTB cyclists, and street cyclists prominently use beta-alanine to get some extra kick when pedaling fast. It can help with high-intensity sports activities like cycling, rock climbing, etc. but requires building up in the body for 3-5 weeks prior.
Beta-alanine supplementation raises muscle carnosine, which allows the body to retain amino acids within muscles more efficiently. The increase in carnosine has been shown to increase performance over smaller distances. For example, over a 4 KM pursuit, beta-alanine increases sprinting ability at the end of lengthier races. Preferably cyclists can take 2-4 grams every day, spread over two and four doses per day.
Regarded as one of the best and most popular supplements for cycling, ‘creatin’ or ‘creatine’ is available naturally in food. There are around 2 grams in a pound of red meat and 4.5 grams in a pound of salmon. Creatine increases levels of phosphocreatine in the body; an energy-rich compound prepared from creatine and phosphorus that fuels muscles during high-intensity workouts, quickly.
Creatine is one of the most popular performance boosters used by gym addicts and athletes alike. While extracting enough can be difficult, thousands of creatine supplements are now available in powder form. Generally, creatine increases creatine phosphate levels up by almost 20% giving athletes some 15 to 20 minutes of extra performance.
I will recommend consulting a physician for creatine intake. Before using creatine on a regular basis, you are required to go through a seven-day loading routine. During the first week, athletes usually consume between 16-20 grams per day broken into four servings. After a week reduce it down to 3-5 grams per day, since your muscle will then be able to retain the creatine for up to four weeks.
In his article, “Creatine for road cyclists” on Cycling Tips, Alan McCubbin discusses the research paper from the Australian Catholic University and Australian Institute of Sport. This academic research paper examines the effect of creatine on cycling performance , do have a read through this excellent piece.
Sports Nutrition is a world to be discovered, always remember that exercise is 40% effort and 60% diet. Replenishing your body with high energy nutrients during cycling is a must considering the toll your body takes during the activity. As one of the utmost physically and demanding disciplines, nutrition plays a huge part in cycling success at all levels from fighting exhaustion to support recovery.
Do remember that we are neither sports nutrition experts nor sell dietary supplements at the shop. Consider consulting a physician before you choose to take up one of the supplements mentioned in this article; you may not need them. Eat healthily and try to consume all necessary nutrients from natural sources first. Until next time, see you again soon.