Sports Nutrition is a complete minefield. No matter who you speak to there will always be varied opinions on the most effective and essential training supplements. It’s not just the sport of cycling that has this debate but it is across a number of sports throughout the world. But as one of the most physically and gruelling disciplines, nutrition plays a huge part in cycling success at all levels from fighting fatigue to supporting recovery. The physical demands from cycling require a nutritional plan that provides energy, power and stamina to succeed.
Vitamin supplements have had some bad press recently as studies have shown that large doses of these healthy chemicals may do more harm than good..? But other studies have shown that very active people need higher levels of key energy producing and muscle mending nutrients.The more you cycle the more you need to eat so naturally you should be getting more nutrients and vitamins than someone who eats less. We have however selected a few supplements and vitamins that are worth adding into your diet as a cyclist.
Creatine is one of the most widely used supplements in sport, but sometimes overlooked by cyclists. Creatine is great for power and developing lean muscle gains. It helps in reducing lactic acid creation and help create a pool of anaerobic / explosive energy which can be used for a sprint finish or a sharp hill climb. Creatine is a nitrogen-containing organic compound naturally produced in the human body, predominantly in the liver, but also in smaller amounts in the kidneys and pancreas. Creatine supplementation is basically effective at producing increases in high-intensity exercise performance, including interval training, sprints, and strength and power exercise.
Branch Chain Amino Acids are brilliant for improving recovery after intense exercise. If you are prone to aches and pains and muscle soreness then taking some BCAA’s along with proper nutrition can be a great way of reducing these symptoms. BCAA’s, along with reducing muscle fatigue and speeding up recovery, they also help with the absorbtion of protein which means it can be easier to build lean muscle when using which will in turn help with power output.
Vitamin D also know as the sunshine Vitamin. More and more people have less than adequate levels of Vitamin D especially those of us who have to live through the dull winter days in the U.K. It is virtually impossible to get enough Vitamin D through food as no food is richly dense in Vitamin D. Fatty fish like salmon and tuna are good sources but for most of us it doesn’t add up and a dose of Vitamin D can be an essential vitamin to take. Vitamin D is a key player in building bones, making and maintaining and reviving metabolism. Some research has shown that increasing Vitamin D levels in your blood from 75 to 100 nmol/L can boost your aerobic capacity, muscle growth, muscle force, power and even shorten your recovery time. We suggest taking one tablet a day of Vitamin D daily and you should be able to slowly feel the benefits.
This antioxidant vitamin protects your cells—especially those in your muscles and lungs, which take a beating during tough cycles and appears to improve lung health as well as breathing capacity at altitude. If you eat a low fat diet, you could be skimping on this essential nutrient, as it’s found mainly in oils like olive oil and nuts. If you try eating a handful or two of almonds every day, as just one ounce (about 25 nuts) can deliver more than a third of your daily requirement. So Eat some nuts and leafy greens like spinach, and fortified cereals to get the rest. Vitamin E is maybe not a supplement that you necessary need to go out and buy in a tablet form, but do try and get enough Vitamin E dense foods into your diet.
Iron is the mineral workhorse your body uses to build the red blood cells that carry fresh oxygen to your muscles via your bloodstream. Run low, and you risk developing iron-deficiency anemia, which can leave you chronically tired and hamper your riding. Women are usually more iron deficient than men because of menstruation. Very active people are, too, because they lose iron through sweat and red blood cell breakdown. Iron is easy to get through food, especially if you eat meat, poultry, or seafood, because they are all good sources of heme iron, but if you don’t eat meat you can get Iron from other sources such as leafy greens, beans and even dried fruit. To maximize the amount of iron your body absorbs, eat iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods, such as citrus, peppers, leafy greens, and tomatoes. Vitamin C helps increase the absorption of iron from plant foods—particularly important if you’re a vegan cyclist. You can definitely get too much iron, though, and that’s not good for your heart—so stick to natural food sources unless you suspect you’re low. Then get a quick check up by your doctor to test your levels.