8 Performance Enhancing Supplements, Foods & Nutrients For Cyclists


– Most nutritionists recommend a balanced diet for the general population, but intense exercise is likely to increase the demand for certain nutrients. Here, we explain some
of the best nutrients, and supplements, that you might wish to consider to help boost your performance. Totally legally, I would like to add. [Music Playing] – Number one has to be iron. Iron is one of the most important micronutrients for endurance cyclists. It’s a crucial part of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen around the body. Low iron levels are
detrimental to performance. Now, iron comes in two
forms, heme and non-heme. Now, heme iron comes from animal sources, whereas non-heme comes from plants. And it’s actually slightly
less well-absorbed. It’s important to be aware
of the use of the high-iron and the techniques to
help increase absorption. Because the iron story is not just about how much you consume, but
also how well you absorb it. For example, if you have
vitamin C with iron, that will help you to
increase your absorption, whereas, dietary fiber
and the tannins in tea and coffee inhibit iron absorption. Another piece of the
puzzle is that because hepcidin, which is released by the liver, to inhibit iron absorption,
is elevated after stress and exercise,
iron will not be absorbed very well after you’ve been training. Foods rich in iron include some red meats, like beef, ostrich, kangaroo, oysters, and chicken liver. For those who don’t eat
meat there’s also iron in legumes, like lentils,
soybeans, tofu, and grains, for example, brown rice,
and other things like dried apricots, black-strap molasses and some fortified breakfast cereals. And it may be worth
considering a supplement. I still take an iron
tablet every second day. And I know for a fact
that some sports doctors recommend that all racing cyclists, especially women, take an iron supplement because they found that it helps almost everyone to perform better. That could be because the
base levels for normal were set too low for
the average population. Or, it could be that greater availability of iron in the body helps performance. Either way, still take my iron supplement just so I can ride to
work a little bit faster. [Music Playing] – Vitamin B12 has many
functions in the body. But is predominantly
for the natural, normal functioning of the brain
and central nervous system. And, for making red blood cells. Therefore, as with iron, it is a pretty essential part of a cyclist’s diet. A lack of B12 in the
diet can cause anemia, although it’s not quite the same as the anemia caused by lack of iron. If you’re deficient in
B12, then that anemia causes the body to
produce abnormally large red blood cells, which lose their oxygen-carrying capacity. Not ideal. B12-rich foods include fish, meat, eggs, and dairy products, but there are no reliable sources of B12
in plant-based foods, except those that have been fortified, such as some plant milks
and breakfast cereals. So, if you follow a plant-based diet, you should consider taking a supplement, if you don’t have these
fortified alternatives. A simple blood test can be used to determine the folate deficiency. [Music Playing] Also known as the sunshine
vitamin, it is needed for the absorption of
calcium and therefore needed to maintain healthy bone mass. So if you have a
deficiency, that can cause brittle bones, which is something, that as a cyclist, if you don’t
do weight-bearing sport, you might be susceptible to anyway. It is also been shown to play a vital role in the immune system, as well as improving muscular strength, which
all sounds pretty good. Now the best source of vitamin D is making it in your own cells using sunlight and you also need to consume things like fish, eggs and fortified food. But even with a well-balanced diet, you probably won’t get enough vitamin D. Uh, if you live in a country that has long, dark winters, like the U.K., or you don’t get much sunshine, or in fact, if you live in
a very sunny country, but you wear super-high-factor sunscreen. And yes, vitamin D deficiency is a thing in Australia, too. And in that case, you might like to consider supplementing with vitamin D, up to 10 milligrams per day. Uh, I still do, every though I get plenty of sunshine riding my bike. [Music Playing] Omega-3 oils are a type of
essential poly-unsaturated fatty acid, which we must
obtain from the diet, and we cannot make in our own bodies. Now, Omega-3’s are made up from two constituent fatty acids. You’ve got DHA and EPA,
and please don’t ever ask me to pronounce those names in full. EPA, in particular, has been shown to dampen the inflammatory
response in your cells, unless it can help to
aid recover and immunity. Another interesting fact of Omega-3 oils is that they impact on
your red blood cells, making them slightly more pliable so they can pass through smaller capillaries. Now, if you choose to
supplement with Omega-3 oils, it is important to ensure that you get good-quality capsules,
and that you have the correct ratio of EPA to DHA. Or even choose a pure EPA supplement, if it’s inflammation
you’re trying to reduce. That’s what I take. Pure EPA. Once a day. [Music Playing] Creatine is a chemical
naturally found in the body. Which helps to release
energy in anaerobic efforts. Because of that, it’s really popular among sprint-based sports. But for certain endurance cyclists it can also be beneficial. Road events, of course,
include repeated sprints. Just when you’re attacking
or covering a tack. But the trade-off is that
it promotes a storage of water, and therefore you
might put on a kilo or two of weight in water, if you take creatine. However, taking creatine in the off-season whilst doing a strength-training program has been shown to increase muscle mass, making the training more effective. If you don’t mind having
extra muscle mass. And of course, it gives you plenty of time to covert that strength into cycling boon before the season starts. [Music Playing] Antioxidants are basically
substances that delay cell damage caused by free radicals. So when we exercise we
put stress on the body. This increases the
production of free radicals, such as radioactive oxygen species or ROX, which can cause harmful
effects within the body. Now we need a balance
between these free radicals and the antioxidants for
normal physiological function. And, in fact, you need
those free radicals, for the stress, to stimulate
a response to training. So you don’t want to dampen
the stress straight away. However, it is unarguable
that antioxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin A, play a role in supporting the immune system. Although we know this,
interestingly, studies looking at antioxidants in
isolation, tend not to have a positive effect at
reducing disease risk. However, we do know, that
consuming a diet rich in fruit and vegetables can
have a protective affect. Whether it’s down to
the antioxidant content, we can’t be sure. But either way, when you
put stress on your body through cycling, eating
more fruit, and especially vegetables, can only be beneficial. And one popular very
antioxidant supplement is maraschino cherry juice,
which is also delicious. [Music Playing] Beetroot juice has been noted to have a positive effect on exercise performance, and more specifically,
may benefit a cyclist by helping to boost aerobic capacity. Now, not only are
beetroots full of vitamins, minerals, and vital nutrients, but they are also packed with nitrates, which are naturally present in a
variety of vegetables, but particularly
concentrated in beet roots, which can then be pressed and concentrated into a juice. When we consume the
nitrate in juice, it gets gets converted in the
body into nitrate oxide. This nitrate oxide has been shown to lower blood pressure and because of this, it’s considered a potential
aid to improve performance. The main affect of
nitrate oxide is that it dilates our blood vessels, which means they increase in diameter. The wider the vessels,
the more oxygenated blood can flow to the muscles, which is needed during aerobic respiration. And the more oxygen you have
in your muscles, the more ATP, or energy, can be produced. Now beetroot juice also
has some affect at the molecular level, although
that gets a littLe too complicated for me. And beetroot juice
definitely has some very interesting affects on
the color of your feces and urine, making them quite reddish, and it’s a bit of a shock
the first time you try it. Ah, you’ll see what I mean, if you ever try beetroot juice. [Music Playing] Coffee is a staple in any cyclist’s diet, whether it’s cappuccino or
espresso or even a flat-white or a Piccolo, many of us rely on it before we head out on a ride. But, does it actually have any effect on our cycling performance? Well, yes actually, caffeine
has been shown to improve performance in almost
all types of exercise. From sprints to ultra-endurance events. We actually thought we
would put it to the test in our very own GCN experiment. For example, maybe to
attempt a five kilometer, all-out time trial. Test on different days. One with a measured amount of coffee. The difference being that one
would be caffeinated coffee and the other would be decaf coffee. Unfortunately, up to now,
we could not get a single GCN presenter to agree to ride
a bike after decaf coffee. So, we haven’t been able
to do this experiment, but we’re still working on
it, so watch this space. I’d like to repeat,
that the most important thing for staying healthy and strong on the bike is to eat a balanced diet, and you should try to get
your nutrients that way. Supplements should kind of
be seen as the last resort. Not the first thing you reach for. They are there to supplement your diet, after all, if you need it. With all of the nutrients we’ve mentioned, more is actually not better, in fact, too much can be really harmful, so if you’re getting what
you need from your diet, then you don’t need to spend
money on expensive pills. Another thing that’s
worth mentioning is that nutritional supplements are not regulated in the same way as medicines. There are good-quality supplements and and bad-quality supplements, and you can’t always trust the label. Neither to contain the
good stuff that you want, nor to not contain contaminants
that you don’t want. You might think that
supplemental contamination, and the risk of testing positive, is only a concern for pro-athletes. But actually, nobody wants to be putting unknown substances into their body. So, if you do buy
supplements, then get them from a reputable source,
and in fact, consider buying from a company that
is Informed Sport certified. I do hope this video
helps you to find that extra five percent or maybe one percent to reach your goals, If you have any more
questions about supplements, please leave them down in the comments. Don’t forget to give us a
thumbs-up, share this with your friends, and if you
want to see more about why it’s so important to
buy clean supplements, click down here for a video that Cy made with Informed Sport.