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SUPPLEMENTS FOR CYCLISTS

Want to ride your bike faster and feel better in your day-to-day life?

There are a few key supplements that will keep you fit and strong on the bike, and put an extra spring in your step off the bike.

Check out our guide to the key supplements for cyclists!

However, please remember – supplements should be seen as additional to a balanced, healthy diet, rather than as a replacement for one.

OMEGA 3

Omega 3 is a fatty acid, and a nutrient that everyone needs, not just cyclists.

While it’s relatively easy to obtain similar fatty acids Omega 6 and 9 from the diet, we tend to be deficient in Omega 3. Omega 3 has a range of benefits, including maintaining brain and heart function, reducing blood pressure, improving joint health, and reducing inflammation.

Omega 3 is naturally present in fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel, however, even regularly consuming these has been proven to not provide as much Omega 3 as we ideally need.

Luckily, Omega 3 tablets are one of the most widely-available supplements out there, making it super-easy to boost your intake of this key nutrient.

VITAMIN D

Vitamin D’s most important function is aiding calcium and phosphate absorption. These nutrients are essential in maintaining bone health, with calcium in particular being key to building and strengthening bones.

Vitamin D is naturally found in the sun’s rays, and during summer, when we’re out clocking up the miles on the bike, we can obtain the majority of our Vitamin D requirement just by being outside. However, unless you’re out a lot in summer, you’re likely to need a top-up, and nearly everyone would benefit from supplementation in the winter when we’re stuck indoors.

It’s particularly important for cyclists that spend a lot of time riding to pay attention to their bone health. As cycling is non-weight-bearing, our bone density can decrease over years and years of riding as we spend less time walking and carrying out other weight-bearing activities such as running or strength training. The risk of low bone density becomes even higher if all that riding has reduced our body weight, which is a risk factor for osteoporosis and osteopenia.

iron

Iron is a mineral that plays a large part in the transport of oxygen to our muscles. Without sufficient iron, oxygen cannot efficiently exchange from the blood into our muscles, so massively impeding performance.

It can be common for cyclists to have low iron levels if we train particularly hard or frequently. This is due to the increased demand for blood to our muscles rather than the GI tract when we ride, which can inhibit our iron absorption. Additionally, our body may not have time to fully replace the iron that we burn through during hard riding if we train day-in-day-out.

Iron is naturally occurring in beans and deep green leafy veg. However, to obtain enough iron from the diet can require eating whole fields of spinach and so supplementation is advisable.

Caffeine

The best of the lot, and available in your daily coffee, tea, cola and even in chocolate!

Caffeine is a natural performance-booster that has been used through the ages. There are three key benefits of caffeine on performance:

  • Mental alertness and improved focus – essential for when we need to push ourselves in a race or event
  • Increased fat burning – which saves our carbohydrate stores for later in a ride
  • Improved blood flow and muscle contraction – giving us more power in the pedals.

Check out our blog to find out more about how caffeine works in our body, how much we need to optimise performance, and the necessity to be moderate with how much we take.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is a naturally occurring by-product of cheese production. It’s a fast-acting protein that is most commonly supplemented through specific powders that you mix with water, milk, or juice.

Protein is key for cyclists after tough rides as it re-builds the muscle tissues that have been torn and damaged during training.

Although rides are fuelled from carbohydrate, which is our most readily available source of energy, we recover with protein. Protein is the key nutrient needed for repairing and rebuilding our cells – which in turn makes us stronger and faster. Optimising recovery means that you’re able to ride again sooner and avoid the aches and pains of a tough ride.

Our body is most able to absorb nutrients within a 20 to 30-minute window after exercise, and so using whey protein in a shake after a ride is a convenient and rapid way to start your recovery without requiring access to a kitchen and a grill!

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