Supplements for Cyclists05 February, 2014 0 comments
SUPPLEMENTS FOR CYCLISTS
There is always a big argument whether a person should take supplements or not. It really depends how you are using them, you should not really be using them as an alternative to eating a healthy diet, but as something that is going to enhance your sporting performance, provide you with essential nutrients and aid your recovery. Cycling is a high endurance sport that requires a big intake of calories, carbohydrates and healthy fats. It is a good idea to get a really nutritious diet sorted before you start to think too seriously about what sports supplements you should take. Sports Dietician Alan McCubbin said “One of the first things I am often asked as a sports dietician is What supplements should I take?, without even considering what they are eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Fruit and yoghurt isn't a sexy recovery snack compared to ionised whey protein and a power bar”. But when you do start to incorporate supplements into your nutrition routine, what type of supplements should you be looking to take.
One supplement that everyone can benefit from tacking is a quality multivitamin. They will provide a solid base that will ensure that any other supplements you take will work to their full potential. Your body uses vitamins and minerals for just about every basic function, like digesting your food and supplying energy to your muscles. So if your body is deficient in these nutrients, it is going to affect your overall health and your performance will suffer. Cycling is a very physical activity and adequate recovery is essential as your body can be put under a lot of stress. But taking a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement will help your body recover faster. There is an argument that if you are eating a healthy balanced diet, you should not need to take a multivitamin, but the truth is our food now is not as nutritious as it once was, so it helps to take a quality multivitamin.
A person who exercises regularly is going to need a higher amount of protein in their diet than someone who is less active. So if you are cycling intensely you will be using and breaking down the muscles of the legs, namely the quads, hamstrings and calves. You will need sufficient amounts of protein to help the muscles recover and grow stronger. Your diet should be the primary source of protein with plenty of lean meat, chicken and fish. But a good quality whey protein after your training will be a good aid to your recovery. Whey protein is one of the highest quality proteins you can get and is easily absorbed in to the body.
A report by Michael Saunders of the American College of Sports Medicine, found that “A protein and carbohydrate combination shortened recovery time allowing the cyclist to work harder during their next workout”.
Creatine is a supplement that is normally associated with strength training and bodybuilding, but it is in fact a supplement that is used for endurance that will allow an athlete to train for longer. Creatine now is one of the most tested supplements ever and is now widely used by athletes from many sports. Creatine is found naturally is foods like meat and fish and is produced in the human body in small quantities in the liver. Creatine is stored in the muscles where it creates the organic compound ATP which fuels the muscles contraction. Bodybuilders use creatine to be able to get that last extra rep out in the gym, so this can mean an increase in muscle mass. For cyclists it means an increase of power and endurance.
Caffeine is probably one of the most underrated supplements an athlete can take, whether in the form of coffee or as a sports supplement. Everyone knows how caffeine can can increase mental alertness and focus, but it can also play a part in increasing your endurance. It does this by inducing your muscles into using your fat stores as fuel for your body so saving glycogen. The glycogen saved is then used later in your training so that your endurance is prolonged and the onset on fatigue will be delayed. Research has found that caffeine can also stop muscle soreness after exercise. But caffeine is a stimulant and should not be taken in too larger quantities as it can have adverse side effects if overused.
Carbohydrate supplements are not so common as other supplements available as good sources of carbohydrates are readily available in the foods we eat. But there are times when an intake of carbohydrates will be beneficial to your fitness regime. Eating a good complex carbohydrate an hour before your ride will start to fuel your body for your training. But a simple carbohydrate taken just before, during and after your training will keep your energy levels high and help rebuild glycogen stores in the liver so are essential to your recovery. Good types of a simple carbohydrate supplements are dextrose, maltodextrin and waxy maize.