Part 4 of 4: Supplementing for cycling performance?

In Part 3 of Supplementing for cycling performance I wrote about why a cyclist would want to supplement and who should supplement. I will cover in this post the questions How are supplements viewed by the drug agencies and What supplements to take.

How are supplements viewed by the drug agencies?

If you are an amateur racer in the USA you are more than likely racing with a USA Cycling, Domestic Member License. This means that you should be up to date on the latest rules of supplementation if you plan to supplement. If you have not done so yet you should read the USAC Rule Book!!! In the Appendix under “Section 2. Prohibited Substances, Boosting, and Penalties” you will find the following statement: “228  Part 1. Use of prohibited substances or procedures that is detected by USADA using their test procedures or by the UCI using their testing procedures and WADA approved laboratories shall result in the same penalties.”


Sorry to say but the USADA site is a horrible place to find a list of banned substances. Instead they have a search engine where you can look to see if a supplement you are interested in is banned. Instead I rely on the WADA list when I see some new supplement on the shelf I am not familiar with. In either case I think this comment from USADA sums it up nicely”

“The commonly held belief that the government approves all vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids and other dietary supplements, which are sold over-the-counter or through the Internet, is not correct. Some of these products contain prohibited substances. Athletes who take these do so at their own risk

While it is highly unlikely that Category 5-3 racers are going to be tested for a banned substance or practice such as blood doping, you must understand that a supplement you may want to take could be banned or could contain banned substances. Do not think for a second that your beginner status is an excuse to experiment! Beginning Juniors, Men and Women racers can and have been tested per USA Cycling Doping Controls at races. Remember Dopers SUCK!

What supplements to take?

I cannot and will not tell you the anonymous athlete who has found this article on my web site what to take as a supplement. I can however share with you what I know has worked for me. But remember what works for one person could make you sick or diminish your performance. Below you will find a list of supplements that I have used with success in my training along with a description of the supplement.

Food: Once you start thinking of food as fuel your training program will take on whole new light. While you can find a myriad of books and claims about this food source or diet plan or another I highly recommend seeking out the support of a registered sports nutritionist.

BCAA – From WikipediaThe phrase branched-chain amino acids or BCAA is sometimes used to refer to the amino acids having aliphatic side-chains that are non-linear. These are leucine, isoleucine and valine. The combination of these three essential amino acids makes up approximately 1/3 of skeletal muscle in the human body, and plays an important role in protein synthesis.

I have the best luck with BCAA in my recovery and the prevention of soreness. I usually take a recommended dosage before and after key workouts. Many Whey Protein Supplements will also contain some BCAA. While the percentage of BCAA in Whey Protein Supplements maybe enough for your body weight most are not.

Caffeine – From WikipediaCaffeine is a bitter, white crystalline xanthine alkaloid that is a psychoactive stimulant drug.In humans, caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, having the effect of temporarily warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness. Caffeine has diuretic properties, at least when administered in sufficient doses to subjects who do not have a tolerance for it.[7] Regular users, however, develop a strong tolerance to this effect,[7] and studies have generally failed to support the common notion that ordinary consumption of caffeinated beverages contributes significantly to dehydration.[8][9][10]

Caffeine is something I consume with my coffee everyday and have been told the more of a regular drinker of coffee you are the least likely you are to see an ergogenic effect in your cycling performance. I have had my best luck with caffiene by drinking a coke or an espresso just before an ealry spring criterium. Early season crits are are cold and its hard to get muscles twitching with out some extra caffeine. Caffeine taken in large doses is banned by some drug agencies.

Co-Q10 – From Coenzyme Q-10 helps the body convert food into energy in the form of ATP. Nearly every cell in the body contains at least some Coenzyme Q-10, with mitochondria, the energy powerhouses of cells, containing the most. The heart and liver, due to their high content of mitochondria, contain the most Coenzyme Q-10 out of any organs in the body.

I started taking CoQ10 this year after reading several studies of athletes having success with developing sustained energy. The older I get and the more responsibilities I have the fewer matches I have to burn. Coq10 has improved my energy reserves and not in a mad rush like an energy drink. There have also been some studies that indicate it may help with the burning of fat as a fuel in aerobic activities.

Creatine Micronized –From Our bodies naturally make the compound, which is used to supply energy to our muscles. It is produced in the liver, pancreas, and kidneys, and is transported to the body’s muscles through the bloodstream. Once it reaches the muscles, it is converted into phosphocreatine (creatine phosphate). This high-powered metabolite is used to regenerate the muscles’ ultimate energy source, ATP (adenosine triphosphate).

I supplement with Creatine only durring my build phases of training. I will notice a great deal more strength and can complete more reps before failure in the gym. I also notice that I am able to maintain longer work periods when training in my Anerobic training zone. I only take Micronized Creatine as Creatine Monohydrate had a tendency to upset my stomach.

D-Ribose – From Ribose, a unique, 5-carbon sugar that occurs naturally in all living cells forms the carbohydrate portion of DNA and RNA, the building blocks of life. Ribose is also the sugar that begins the metabolic process for production of adenosine triphosphate (or ATP). ATP is the major source of energy used by cells including muscle tissue for normal function.

I started adding D-Ribose along with Creatine in my sports drink durring the build phase of last seasons training. While most information on Ribose points to its recovery bennefits, my strength coach also stated he believed that it would provide a longer insulin response in effect giving Creatine more time to do its job. While I can not say for sure that this works I can say that when I have used it in my sports bottles in conjunction with other supplements listed here I have been able to work harder and recover faster.

Flax Seed Oil – From Wikipedia.comIt contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, especially alpha-linolenic acid, which may be beneficial for reducing inflammation leading to atherosclerosis,[3] preventing heart disease and arrhythmia,[4]

I started taking Flax Seed oil separately and sometimes in combination with Fish and Borrage oils in an effort to help decrease inflammation from a back injury that I have since mostly recovered from. I found that in most cases this did much better to ease joint pain and stiffness over Glucosamine supplements. I have also found that Flax Seed Oil and Fish Oils will help curb my appetite.

L-Glutamine – From L-Glutamine is an amino acid, just like protein. It is the most abundant free amino acid in muscle tissue, and it plays a principal role in protein metabolism, cell volumizing, and anti-catabolism.

It was highly suggested to me to add Glutamine to my whey protein and consume it after hard work outs by my strength coach. Since then I have started adding it to my my sports drink when training and racing for more than an hour as it may spare lean muscle to an extent. I do notice less soreness later in the day when I am regularly consuming Glutamine.

L-Carnatine – From L-carnitine is very similar to the nonessential amino acid carnitine. It performs some of the same functions, such as helping metabolize food into energy. L-carnitine transfers long-chain fatty acids, such as triglycerides into mitochondria (a cell’s energy powerhouse), where they may be oxidized to produce energy.

When I told my my strength coach last season that I wanted to drop 10 lbs before the spring he said sure. I then explained to him that I have a hard time loosing weight and he suggested that I take L-Carnatine as it will use body fat as an energy source. I was shocked how much easier it was to loose the weight. I ended up having to stop taking it because I was afraid to loose to much to fast. Just taking this supplement with out putting in the work will do nothing for you as far as loosing weight is concerned.

Whey Protein –From Whey protein is one of 2 types of protein that comes from milk (the other being casein protein). It’s made during the process of cow’s milk being turned into cheese. When the milk is being turned into cheese, the whey protein is a by-product . Whey protein is far superior to all other forms of protein. It provides the body with the perfect amino acid profile for muscle building, strength and recovery. Whey is also fast ingesting, meaning it gets to where it’s needed – fast! Whey protein supplements play a huge roll in post-workout nutrition, when your body is in a catabolic state and needs a fast injection of protein.

I am huge consumer of protein I am a carnivore when it comes to my diet. However there are far to many fats involved in the things I like to eat so most of the protein I consume is in the form of weigh protein or protein bars. Its fast to make and easy to consume and when you mix the right amounts based on your body weight you will find that you are not so hungry afterward.

Vitamin C – From There are numerous benefits that can be attributed to Vitamin C, including strengthening of bones and connective tissue, aiding in the healing of wounds, and increasing the performance of the immune system. Perhaps one of Vitamin C’s best attributes is its amazing anti-oxidant ability. It protects the fluids of the body such as blood from damage by free radicals. By strengthening arterial walls, it also plays an important role in maintaining a healthy blood pressure, as well as reducing tissue damage.

As a kid I had what seemed like the never ending bouts of strep, colds and flu. As I got older this only slightly improved. I met a member of my extended family who owned a health food store and began to share with me the almost magical properties that Vitamin C has in strengthening the immune system. I have been a regular consumer of Vitamin C for better than 10 years and taking it along with a healthy habit of washing my hands several times a day I have manged to miss out on several colds and flu bouts.

Vitamin E – From Vitamin E scavenges the body for harmful free radicals and annihilates them. By destroying cellular membranes, free radicals are responsible for a variety of health problems including Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin E defends all cell membranes in the body from oxidative stress, promoting better health and immunity from illness, while increasing virility.

I am actually reconsidering Vitamin E in my supplement stacks. I am considering an Anti Oxidant supplement that covers several vitamins and sources of Anti Oxidants in an effort to gain a broader spectrum of protection and reduce my over all spending.


Here are links to all of the articles in this series:  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Have a great week!

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