What supplements does everyone use when deep into their training program? Collogen protein over whey? beta alanine / beetroot juice etc.
I personally keep supplements to a minimum, what has been working good for me is a recovery shake, after a workout, and only if it was intense and >45min. I use ScienceInSport Rego rapid recovery range (strawberry or banana flavour). And before going to sleep a Magnesium Citrate drink.
Also i’d recommend you to read the eating to suffer guide.
When considering protein you need to know what purpose you’re taking for, and let the amino acid profile for a protein supplement, along with its rate of absorption, decide which one to take. Collagen and whey have very different profiles and uses, and one would never pick collagen OR whey.
Whey are far superior for recovery so is good for after exercise, it is rapidly absorbed (especially if it’s hydrolysed) and has a better amino acid profile for muscle repair. Collagen is better for connective tissue repair, such as tendons, skin, nails and cartilage. For during exercise you should have some protein intake on exercise of 2+ hours. Here, soy is best because it still has a good amino acid profile and is absorbed quickly (although not as good as whey) but it doesn’t produce as many nitrates which can lead to a feeling of fatigue, so whey is not best for before or during exercise.
I think if I were to say the best supplements for cycling I would say hydrolysed whey mixed with either maltodextrin or cluster dextrin for recovery and cluster dextrin as an energy drink during exercise.
For general life… Many are deficient in vitamin D, collagen and high quality omega 3… Look for 1g of EPA and DHA per day.
Ross that is fantastic information and what i was after , thank-you for your time and knowledge
Not a problem. Nutrition is very much an interest for me. I studied it loosely as part of my degree but sports nutrition is something I’ve delved into quite a bit myself.
Hi Ross - I’d never heard of cluster dextrin before. I used to take a mix of maltodextrin with fructose. How is cluster dextrin different/better?
On the supplement side I take creatine and beta alanine which are notably beneficial for me over short efforts (a few seconds to a minute or so). I also take vitamin D and iron tablets. My last blood test showed I had low copper so I started eating a handful of cashews everyday. I have no idea if copper has any impact on fitness but they are delicious.
In the past I have taken baking soda when I used to race the 800m (running). It was really effective but the most horrible feeling. Everyone thought I was taking it as part of some elaborate prank. I didn’t find it made any difference for the 400m or 1500m so I don’t think I’ll bother taking it for cycling.
I’d be interested in trying beetroot juice in the future.
Cluster dextrin has a faster gastric emptying time. This means the risk of gastric upsets are significantly lower with cluster dextrin. Despite the fact that it appears that the rate of blood sugar level increase is similar for both cluster dextrin and maltodextrin, blind studies have shown that perceived exertion is consistently lower with cluster dextrin than with maltodextrin. The other benefit of cluster dextrin is that it can also be had in much higher concentrations before it becomes hypertonic due to its make structure. This further helps reduce the risk of gastric upsets.
Taking cluster dextrin with fructose would be absolutely fine, and increases the amount of carbs you can absorb per hour. If I’m doing longer rides (eg 3+ hours) I will mix some cluster dextrin with some fructose (you can still use the 2:1 formula) along with a little soy protein as well. The added soy helps prevent muscle catabolism/breakdown on longer efforts.
Hope that helps
I am no expert but nutrition became a big interest of mine in the last year.
As for the best supplement, I would say: caffeine
This powerhouse of a sup does not need an introduction and almost everybody has used it in one form or the other.
It’s what keeps me going after a hard day and enables me to put in the work during my training.
Many people probably don’t consider caffeine a supplement, but to me it absolutely is.
I take it either in form of a powergel squeezy or as an electrolyte tab in my drink, if I am doing endurance workouts. Or as a straight pre-workout booster, if strength training is on my schedule.
With all other supplements I try to keep it to a minimum, just as @JC2020 said.
A healthy diet and responsible choices already give me most of the carbs, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals my body needs.
One area I don’t always succeed “all natural” is my protein intake. Here I supplement either with whey or casein. Ross already gave a pretty good explanation of the different uses. While I don’t use collagen (it’s a rather “young” supplement"), for my needs, casein has a similar use case.
I try to aim to get 1,5-2g of Protein per kg bodyweight per day. Maximum 30g per sitting. Spread out over 4 meals.
Something I don’t consider a supplement - I know, I am playing fast and loose with my own definition: Electrolytes, Maltodextrin and Fructose. These three are essential to go through longer trainings and will be taken in all kind of variations. Real food prefered, squeezys, drinks… you name it.
At the end of the day, I figured out what really helps my body to perform at it’s best. All this stuff, I take. Careful trial and error. I don’t believe in promises of magic-pills. I do believe, however, in science.
A supplement needs to be time tested before I even read up on it.
Hey Ross do you any recommendations for hydro protein and DHA / EPA ?
Ive been using true protein Post workout blend and have just noticed they stock cluster dextrin.
If you’re in the UK this is a good source
Some omega 3 capsules or cod liver oil capsules don’t actually have that much EPA and DHA in, which are the important bits.
I agree about being time tested, but there are numerous blind-studies out there for collagen which have shown that those who suffered joint pain saw a significant reduction in joint pain following collagen supplementation compared to those who didn’t after, I think, a 70-ish day period. I can’t remember the sample size though, it wasn’t thousands but it was in the hundreds. It would have been better as a double-blind study but they had a control group and single-blind so it wasn’t bad. I can’t remember the exclusion criteria but I have read a few studies. As you say it’s pretty new but there is half decent evidence out there.
I use Nuzest protein (vegan) for recovery shakes, take daily magnesium, B12 a few times a week. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables.
When I was racing (crits and 80-110km road races cat2/3), I leaned on beta-alanine and beetroot juice pretty hard, especially during phases of increased training intensity and volume. I found beta-alanine to be very effective for repeated, eye-bleedingly hard efforts 3-8minutes long (with accelerations mixed in to boot).
This was very helpful for crits and short steep hills typical to the race profiles and suitable to my puncheur physiology.
Beetroot became an expensive habit and can turn your stool and urine interesting shades of red. You also need to be mindful of finding a source with the desired nitrate concentrations. Beta-alanine… well, even thinking about taking that gives me an uncomfortable skin crawling sensation. Damn effective but you may find it unpleasant.
I was introduced to maltodextrin by Alan McCubbin, the author of Eating to Suffer, when I was preparing to race the 2015 Melbourne to Warrnambool (second oldest road race behind La Doyenne… anyhoo, I digress). I did a bunch of motorpacing sessions, rolling turns across 160km stretches of road with 3-4 other riders. I made sure to trial my nutrition strategy during these tough motorpace sessions, to help avoid any surprises come race day. To make a short story long, mixing maltodextrin into drinks was the only feasible way to slam enough calories through my system in order to survive the 262km race. If Ross is saying cluster dextrin is even better than that, then I bet it’s worth trying for big days out on the bike.
Great insight and info Jared
Im finding good results with beta alanine and will
Give the cluster dextrin a go .
For endurance rides just about the best drink you can get would be something like (assuming 750ml bottle) something like 65g cluster dextrin, 30g fructose, 6g soy protein isolate and some electrolytes.
I makey energy drinks in big batches and store in large 5L containers… Saves making up that concoction every time! I must admit though I actually just have a mix of the above but no fructose, I add fructose to my drinks only if I’m doing much over 3+ hours.
@Ross, you really know your stuff. Thank you for the great info.
Your big batches of energy drink sound very similar to what I’m trying to do on most big rides. Although I have to admit, many times I am just too lazy to mix it myself and use a pre-packaged drink from one of the big sports companies.
I’m interested to know: What is your opinion on biological value when it comes to differentiating between protein options? I mean, soy protein has a bit lower value as protein from beef/egg/milk. Does that make a difference? And the combination with, i.e. potatoes, boosts the BV again.
And how does a good amino acid profile look like? Is it more than just Leucin: Isoleucin: Valin (2:1:1)?
Is all of this maybe already bean counting?
I think you may be getting a little confused with both amino acid profile and biological value, because they are inextricably linked. The amino acid profile will have a direct impact on the biological value. The biological value being lower in soy also doesn’t necessarily mean that it is bad for muscle repair either (or that milk/eggs etc is better). Whilst soy has a lower BV that milk protein, for example, it is more rapidly absorbed. When we finish exercise it has shown that getting the nutrition in ASAP is very important. Casein protein is slowly absorbed, so whilst it may have a higher BV, it doesn’t make it a “better” protein to supplement immediately after exercise.
RE BCAA ratio. Whilst if you look specifically as muscles alone it would be easy to think a higher ratio of leucine is better (ie 4:1:1 is better than 2:1:1) but in reality in terms of performance this isn’t the case. It begins to get quite complex but basically one thing that happens during exercise is the brain uptakes tryptophan (another amino acid) and converts it to serotonin, more serotonin increases the feeling of fatigue. But Valine is also taken up by the brain in a “competition” with tryptophan, if more valine is taken up, less tryptophan is, which means less serotonin and less feeling of fatigue. This is obviously going into quite a lot of detail, but for that reason in reality a 2:1:1 ratio is probably adequate.
Having said all of that, taking 4:1:1 is still better than nothing
Hi Ross … would you mind sharing where you get the raw materials from?
I’m all for doing research … but sometimes there’s no need when someone else who knows more than I ever will … has already done it
I did a quick look for cluster type material and wasn’t obvious from people like SIS etc which I thought was odd. Is this a relatively new thing?
Yes, cluster dextrin is relatively new (within the last few years). If you are UK based then either myprotein.com or bulkpowders.com sell it. Soy protein isolate…can get that from loads of places, same with fructose and electrolytes. Cluster dextrin is quite expensive compared to maltodextrin though! It still works out fairly similar to branded maltodextrin drinks. In terms of absorption rate (ie bloodstream sugar rate increase) it’s not that much better than maltodextrin, but less risk of stomach upset and does appear to be a little better for perceived exertion reduction. The fact it can be made in higher concentrations is a bonus for longer colder rides where you might not be drinking so much.