Following a proper diet is essential when it comes to perform in any sport. In spite of being one of the hardest and most demanding disciplines, cycling also follows this basic rule.
Sport supplements for Cyclists
Even though we all know that a proper diet is a fundamental element to obtain all the nutrients that we need, sometimes it is not that simple, specially if we talk about the life of any athlete, and more specifically of any cyclist.
Being disciplined will be the first step to achieve all our high performance sport objectives
Supplements will contribute to the recovery and performance, both in intense workouts as well as in competitions
A good sport supplementation will help us to meet the nutritional deficiencies of any cyclist, by taking them in the daily diet, during the workout, or when performing a sport test.
Needs of a Cyclist
Everyone is different, which means that the nutritional needs of each cyclist will be different and will depend on different factors, without forgetting that these needs will also be affected by external factors like the intensity, distance, speed, or even environmental factors.
In general, the nutritional needs of a cyclist during an intensity workout or discipline test can require around 400-800kcal per hour for a person that weights 70kg approximately.
As you can see, our body must be ready to respond to the effort due to the level of physical wear
Supplements for cyclists
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in our muscles and it is responsible for protecting the immune system, which is why it is regarded as an essential element for the post-workout recovery or post competition of any cyclist.
Glutamine avoids muscle breakdown during high intensity exercises by neutralizing the effect of cortisol, and it is also in charge of helping to eliminate the ammonia waste, which are residual substances that damage the muscle cells.
Therefore, when it comes to supplementation, we can say that L-Glutamine is going to be one of the key products when it comes to muscle recovery
In general, the recommended dose tends to move between 40-100mg/kg of body weight, and it is advisable to take it after a couple hours of intense exercise.
BCAA’s (Branched chain amino acids)
Apart from being essential amino acids (the body cannot synthesize them on its own), the branched chain amino acids are formed by a trio: leucine, isoleucine and valine, which are the fundamental amino acids when it comes to regenerating the muscle microfibers that are damaged during the workout.
Moreover, taking branched amino acids will help us to combat the soreness that tends to occur after an intense workout, which notably decreases the pain and which will be helpful for upcoming workouts.
Let’s not forget that our muscles are rebuilt from the amino acids that are obtained from proteins, which means that we should consume a lot of proteins if we want to encourage a correct and fast recovery.
This is where the BCAA’s come into play, since they facilitate and shorten this process, which would much more complex and slow otherwise
Sometimes, this supplementation is enriched with vitamin B6, since it helps both with the absorption and to protect our tissues from concussions, or with creatine in order to enhance its repairing factor
Regarding the dose, it is advisable to take 1g per 10kg of body weight.
The two previous supplements are focused on the recovery, but in the case of citrulline we are dealing with an ergogenic support that enhances the athletic performance.
This is due to the fact that citrulline malate is a precursor form of Nitric Oxide, which works as a modulator that enhances the blood flow, the muscle energy metabolism, and the mitochondrial breathing during the workout.
At the same time, taking citrulline increases the endogenous levels of arginine
It can also accelerate muscle recovery
Another important point of citrulline malate supplementation is the rate at which the waste metabolites from an intense physical activity are excreted. This is directly related to fatigue, so that it will help us to maintain the intensity during a longer period of time.
Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in many physiological functions inside our organism, and its deficit tends to be quite common among performance athletes, which is worsened due to an unbalanced diet.
One of the main tasks of magnesium is the production of enzymes. These substances work as catalysts in reactions to obtain energy. This is why, a deficit of magnesium can be related to fatigue during physical activity. Moreover, providing correct levels of magnesium will help to reduce the pain.
Another remarkable point is that magnesium is related to the transmission of nerve impulses in the muscles, a proper contraction and relaxation of the muscle, as well as supporting cardiovascular health
Keeping high levels of magnesium will help us avoid muscle cramps and stiffness.
Our muscles get less oxygen during a high intensity workout, which is quite frequent in the world of cycling. This alters the chemical reactions that are not completed.
Our body answers to this alteration with an oxidation that is higher than usual, which produces the onset of the harmful free radicals for our cells.
The way to fight against these elements is through multivitamin complex, which are a preventive measure against these electrons which cause cell aging and even irreparable damage.
This is why it is important to consume vitamins and minerals, specially A, C, and E, Zinc and Selenium which are involve in muscle repair, both naturally through fruits and vegetables or through the help of an antioxidant complex, specially during periods of high volumes of workout.
Is Creatine advisable for Cyclists?
It is one of the most used supplements in the world of cycling, but the truth is that sometimes it is not used properly, which is why I thought it would be interesting to include it in this entry about cycling supplementation.
Creatine is an element that is synthesized in the liver, pancreas, and kidneys. It comes from animal products and most of it is concentrated in the muscles, more than a 90%. Its use is advised for explosive and short exercises, so if you perform anaerobic or endurance activities, contrary to popular belief, creatine is not for you.
It will only be useful for alactic anaerobic resistance workouts or specific tests, races with sudden bursts or jumps when you will be able to increase your creatine phosphate deposits, which will contribute to a better performance and it will also increase the threshold for intense efforts.
Normally, the use of creatine in the world of cycling for these specific training will require a 5-6 days of loading with 20g distributed in several servings throughout the day
As you can see, creatine supplementation is much more specific than the rest of supplementation that we have mentioned and it also requires previous and clear knowledge for a proper administration