The Best Supplements For Cyclists
Although some products on the market today are nothing more than gimmicks, designed to convince unwitting cyclists that spending a little money on a miracle drink will magically improve their performance on the track or road, there are some genuinely useful cycling supplements available that could make a real difference when used sensibly.
To make the task of sorting through the maze of products for sale easier and to help you find the ones that can speed your recovery after a hard training session or supply you with extra energy and hydrate your body during a race, I have compiled a short list of cycling supplements that I believe to be the most useful.
- Recovery drinks – These are usually a combination of carbohydrates and protein designed to help your body to replenish depleted energy stores after a demanding workout and rehydrate by replacing the fluids lost through sweating. For best results, they should be taken immediately after a strenuous training session or race.
- Sports drinks – Products that contain electrolytes are said to be effective in helping the body to rehydrate. Sodium and potassium, which can be found in the leading brands, are used by our bodies to regulate the amount of water that we retain and are therefore essential for any athletes that are in training.
- Whey protein– This is said to aid muscle repair. Whether your source is one of the recovery drinks mentioned earlier or a product that contains nothing else but pure whey protein, it makes sense to take it immediately after cycling.
- Caffeine – A stimulant that needs no introduction and can be found in a variety of drinks such as coffee and tea. Besides making one feel more awake, it can also minimize sensations of pain in your muscles according to some research. For this reason, caffeine should be used before or during a cycle race or training session, but always in moderation.
- Nitrates – These substances occur naturally in vegetables such as beetroot and are converted to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide reduces blood pressure and is a known vasodilator, meaning that it sends signals to the smooth muscle cells within blood vessel walls, thereby widening the vessels and increasing blood flow. The result of this action can be increased performance on the track so it is worth trying before a big race.
- Creatine – This substance increases the formation of Adenosine-5′-triphosphate, which transports chemical energy within cells for the purpose of metabolism. Put more simply, it is said to help provide your muscles with a ready source of energy during strenuous exercise. Therefore, many cyclists use it before racing or training in an effort to increase their endurance.
- Sodium bicarbonate – Research has found that good old baking powder can improve your performance during high intensity exercise. The main drawback of using it is that it is only effective for between one and ten minutes, making it useful to sprinters but not many other types of cyclists. Excessive consumption may also cause diarrhoea so it is advisable to experiment with small doses at first.
In addition to the above supplements, there are various others, such as fish oils, multivitamins and amino acids, that may have beneficial effects on your performance and general health. Whichever combination you try, it is important to remember that it is the effort you put into each training session and race that will have the biggest effect on your performance and not the supplements that you take.
About the Author: ProBikeKit is a leading British road cycling specialist, offering a broad online selection of bike clothing and components to clients nationwide.