Cycling is an increasingly popular sport. As more and more people turn to this sport as a means of staying healthy and fit, increased attention has been given to improving performance and energy during a cycling workout. If you are among the millions of people looking for ways to improve your cycling, then the following guide is for you. Below we review effective supplements for cyclists, considering proven and potential supplements that help increase your body’s fitness, muscles, and energy through things like increased amino acids and protein.
Supplements That Can Help
1. Protein & Carbohydrates
The most common supplements for cyclists are carbohydrate and protein. These supplements are used to replenish energy reserves and repair / develop muscle. While you can consume these nutrients in your diet, by participating in a high energy sport such as cycling, your body requires more nutrients then the usual coach potato. Taking these supplements can ensure a more leveled amount of nutrients enters your body at the perfect time to be effective. In short, supplements give you more control over when and how much protein and carbohydrates you consume.
Protein supplements such as whey protein are quite popular because they are quickly absorbed by the body. Whey protein will help speed up your recovery period, leaving you stronger and more capable of getting back to cycling. Another reason for their popularity is that whey protein can be both effective and inexpensive, with whey protein isolate (WPI) being very affordable. It can be added to your own DIY supplement regime or be found in common enough supplements for an affordable cost, when compared to the cost of protein from tuna or meat. It is easy to consume and found everywhere, whey protein should be used by cyclists looking to improve recovery, performance and development of muscle.
If you are not interested in taking a pill or powder, then you can always consume protein and carbs through your diet. For protein, focus on 20-30 grams in your diet for post workout consumption, such foods can be tuna, beans, chicken or steak. For carbohydrates, know that high glycemic carbs are best, to be consumed right before a run and low glycemic carbs are great for all other times. The amount of carbs you consume from things like oatmeal, pasta, sports drinks, rice, potatoes, and bread will depend on your workout routine, your future goals, and your current weight.
2. Amino Acids
Amino acids play an important role in improving energy levels and energy production. They are among the most commonly recommended supplements for first time cyclists and they have a track record for providing fantastic results. If you are interested in amino acids, then there are many sub types that you should consider. These will find their ways into different products, and understanding what they do individually will help you choose the right products to suit your fitness goals. Generally speaking an all-round blend of amino acids designed for recovery, endurance and performance is a good choice. However many cyclist like to supplement certain types more than others, among these, one of the most popular amino acid group is Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA). BCAA’s contain the three essential amino acids of valine, isoleucine, and leucine. They have been shown to play a big role in improving performance and are usually one of the key ingredients to an amino acid blend. If you do choose to mix and match your own amino acids, we highly recommend reading up on the types of amino acids and their benefits.
Cycling supplements with fish oil in them are great for you. Recommended by cyclists, the fish oil in many leading supplements contain amino acids and provide a wide range of benefits. Along with enhancing the composition of your body, it helps to improve your cholesterol levels as well. In addition, the amino acids will leave you feeling more energized. Those wanting supplements with fish oil in them should consider around 6 grams of it a day when training. Again, trial and error may help you find what is right for your body and fitness level.
3. Multivitamins And Minerals
Multivitamins include a wide range of vitamins and minerals. They help to keep the body healthy and working correctly. As your training intensity increasing, so does your body’s consumption of vitamins and minerals. Maintaining proper nutrition can be incredibly challenging when engaging in an aerobic activity as continuous and straining as cycling. To keep your body healthy and energy levels high, you will need to ensure that you are getting enough vitamins and minerals. Many of these will be depleted quickly thanks to muscle function and sweating. Those cyclists who do not take a multivitamin risk not meeting their vitamin requirements and becoming more prone to sickness or less energy in the future. You can also choose to individually supplement different types of vitamins to suit your own cycling needs and requirements.
Supplements With Potential Benefits
You will find creatine in a range of supplements and products marketed towards fitness and exercise. In fact, over the past 15 years, its use has skyrocketed, making it one of the most popular supplements out there. The reason why we consider creatine a potential benefit for cyclists is because not all effects of the supplement are beneficial to those looking to improve their performance. What do we mean? Let’s review this further.
Creatine is popular because it helps to build muscle mass quicker. People tend to bulk up, reporting greater power. Fantastic, right? The downside is weight gain. For many cyclists, the power to weight ratio is critical. Creatine has the potential to add some weight. Because it helps the body hold water, it can lead to bloating and increase the weight of cyclists. As a result, many cyclists decide to steer clear from using any products with creatine in them. It is estimated that when taken in the correct dosage, you will gain around 3% of additional weight. While creatine does not have the same level of benefit as say protein or amino acids, I think it is still worth noting it here.
Some people swear by it. Other people say that it provides no tangible benefit. Research that has been published tends to contradict itself regarding the usefulness and effectiveness of caffeine in providing energy for the body. One reason for so much uncertainty is that the dosages for caffeine are highly variable. This could be based on an individuals tolerance to caffeine suggesting that the amount consumed by an individual may not benefit another, as much. Again, trial and error may help you find what is right for your body and fitness level.
Research that suggests that caffeine can have a beneficial effect on fitness seen it as an aerobic performance boost. When in the system, it is reported to improve time before exhaustion, increasing the duration of energy before your body gives out. Ultimately, if you are going to try caffeine, then you have a lot of options. You can drink coffee, take caffeine pills, and more.
Putting It All Together
As we have reviewed above, effective supplements for cyclists can be broad and wide. The reason for so much of a selection is because cycling is among the best, most intensive aerobic exercises that a person can engage in. Requiring a great deal of fuel, those looking to use it as an exercise or even to compete will benefit from consuming supplements, ensuring that their body is capable of lasting and pushing itself as far as it can go.
Protein powder and carbohydrates are fantastic for speeding up recovery time, developing leg muscles and improving energy over the course of the exercise. Amino acids like fish oil or different kinds of blends / BCAA’s can help to improve energy production, resulting in notable improvements. Finally, countless other less frequently used supplements will provide noted benefits depending on what you are looking for.
In the end, the supplements you use to improve your body energy and fitness levels, will depend entirely on your needs. As we covered before, be aware of what your goals are when exercising, what nutrition needs you may have, and whether or not supplements to improve cycling are necessary. Be aware that finding the right supplements for cycling can include a trial and error period, where you read your body and muscles to gauge energy levels and overall fitness. In the meantime, best of luck as you continue researching what supplements you should use as you work to improve your cycling experience.