Supplements and vitamins?

by allez neg   January 23, 2014  

I know there's no ethical quick fix to boost speed and/or endurance without putting the miles in, but have any of you had positive results from any of the multitude of supplements out there?

My diet is pretty good (maybe hitting the coffee a bit too much) but shift work and family stuff doesn't make for good regular miles, although I rarely get ill, and my weight is moving in the right direction (85kg, just about 6 ft tall, 39 yrs) so my general wellbeing seems ok.

I'm hoping to have the best year of riding and hammer a few of my riding buddies, most of whom are younger, get in more miles, or both.

I'd just like to feel a bit more energetic, and in particular it'd be great to have another gear on the hills - I can grind up 'em at a vaguely respectable pace but can never accelerate on them.

Also, anything that will alleviate the deadness in my legs after a ride and achey calves. I do try to stretch them out when I remember, and either wolf down a can of tuna or a protein bar post-ride.

I was looking at recovery shakes, iron supplements, stuff like that.

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if, like me, a coffee addict, then hold off on that for 36h and just before ride slam ~200mgs in..perhaps 1 large cup of strong with no milk. i bet youll fly. equally do the 1day carbo load in parallel...breakfast of porridge etc... stick to rice then for lunch and dinner (about 600g of it). you'll have found your extra gear i reckon.

beyond that you can try the old nitrates, creatine, blah blah...cant say that they'll make much difference though - however, no particular experience in that area.

alternatively lose a kg will gain you 10 watts up a more than 5% gradient

posted by sea_biscuit [20 posts]
23rd January 2014 - 21:29

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Deadness and aches are from lactic acid. Simply, you're riding too fast for your level of fitness. A heart rate monitor (or power meter if you're rich) will help you get the effort level correct. Heart rate zone 3 will see you produce lactic acid, so if you keep below that you'll have less aches. Ditto threshold power (I think - I don't do power) Rather than take supplements, just work on fitness so you can minimise lactic and maximise recovery ability. Long slow rides or intervals will see you make gains. Have a google for advice on programs and methods to maximise this for your time constraints and whatnot.

Personally, I used to take multi vitamins, fish oil, chocolate milk for recovery, creatine protein shakes etc etc. Never really made much improvement. Last summer I spent 6 weeks HR training and started getting PRs on all my Strava segments. My average training ride went from 40 miles to 80 miles as I was able to spread the effort sensibly.

Best of luck

posted by Le Grindeur [1 posts]
23rd January 2014 - 21:47

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try my protein . com lots of supplements at a good price

arch684

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posted by archie gordon [7 posts]
23rd January 2014 - 21:49

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archie gordon wrote:
try my protein . com lots of supplements at a good price

I read 'try my protein' and laughed until i read the rest of your sentence.

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posted by pants [71 posts]
24th January 2014 - 8:55

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I'm not a huge proponent of supplements to be honest, but you could try magnesium salts. Pour several handfuls of the salts in the bath after a hard ride, or you can buy magnesium oil in a spray (it's not cheap though). There is some scientific evidence of its (varying degrees of) efficacy out there.

One thing I know that works for me if I start feeling fatigue generally is Floradix (either tablets or the liquid - definitely an acquired taste). It's very easily digestible iron, as well as other nutrients and minerals, in an entirely 'natural' form. Iron tablets in themselves mess with people's stomachs and aren't digested well anyway. Might be worth giving it a shot and seeing if it has any effect. Even a small iron deficiency will affect your performance, recovery, and general feeling of fatigue.

@oddbydefault

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posted by oddbydefault [90 posts]
24th January 2014 - 10:31

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Get some beetroot in yer.

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

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posted by mooleur [531 posts]
24th January 2014 - 12:40

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Re. diet - it depends what you mean by "pretty good". Lots of people think they eat well but often in reality they don't.

IME the persistent dead legs feeling is often related to inadequate rest or poor sleep. Powders and vitamins won't fix that.

They won't give you an extra gear anywhere either. Being able to ride hard or accelerate on climbs requires a really good level of fitness. It's easy to underestimate how long that takes to develop.

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posted by Simon E [1882 posts]
24th January 2014 - 13:16

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Simon E wrote:
Re. diet - it depends what you mean by "pretty good". Lots of people think they eat well but often in reality they don't.

IME the persistent dead legs feeling is often related to inadequate rest or poor sleep. Powders and vitamins won't fix that.

They won't give you an extra gear anywhere either. Being able to ride hard or accelerate on climbs requires a really good level of fitness. It's easy to underestimate how long that takes to develop.

^^ best advice yet.

Can confirm rest is best - I spent my first year nailing the protein shakes & ruining my tummy and not really going too far - into the second year I quit the supplements and went for afternoon naps, NAPS are the way forward. And 8 hour a night sleeps.

And great food, balanced well. Myfitnesspal, while predominantly being a calorie tracker, can also help you graph your nutrient intake which is very handy for balance control.

Personally as soon as I quit supplements I began to improve. The only extras I take at the moment are vitamin C and beetroot juice before races.

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

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posted by mooleur [531 posts]
24th January 2014 - 13:32

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Protein supplements/bars/drinks - avoid, unless you're on a vegan diet and need to up your protein intake, or are doing some serious damage in the squat rack.

Balanced, nutritious diet, hydrate lots, rest lots and what Le Grindeur said about targeted, intelligent training.

posted by Argos74 [252 posts]
24th January 2014 - 20:19

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Some good advice, thanks all.

For now, I'll just focus on staying hydrated, which is something I forget to do on cold rides and carry on the weight loss and sensible nutrition.

As to Le Grindeur's comments about lactic acid, well, I'm falling into the same trap on bicycles that I did with my motorbike - time constraints mean short intense bursts trying to go fast as possible rather than relaxing and savouring the ride. That said, I think I've done more January miles this year than I have for absolutely yonks - I'm preaching to the converted here but buying a bike I'm not that bothered about keeping pristine was a bloody good idea.

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
24th January 2014 - 21:15

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Argos74 wrote:
Protein supplements/bars/drinks - avoid, unless you're on a vegan diet and need to up your protein intake, or are doing some serious damage in the squat rack.

Balanced, nutritious diet, hydrate lots, rest lots and what Le Grindeur said about targeted, intelligent training.

So do you not eat protein sources either, unless you're doing weights?

Thats all protein shakes are, no different to getting protein from meat etc.
Sometimes it's quicker, I use them as a meal replacement at times when I don't get chance to sit down and eat at work. They also make it easier and cheaper to get in the protein you need.

Decent diet is key though, the clue is in the name of 'supplements' but no harm in using them, they work for some and not others.

I use a multi-v, whey, casein, BCAA and creatine. Took a while to find my balance though.

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posted by glynr36 [231 posts]
24th January 2014 - 21:19

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Unless someone is genuinely deficient in essential vits and minerals then taking multivitamins is a scatter-gun solution looking for a problem. On top of that, they invariably use processed (and often synthetic) sources.

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/food-is-not-fuel

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posted by Simon E [1882 posts]
24th January 2014 - 23:01

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A page of sales guff isn't a peer reviewed paper.
That's no better or worse than someone linking a page from a multi v manufacturer on the benefits of multi v's.

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posted by glynr36 [231 posts]
25th January 2014 - 10:10

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glynr36 wrote:
A page of sales guff isn't a peer reviewed paper.
That's no better or worse than someone linking a page from a multi v manufacturer on the benefits of multi v's.

I understand your point but I disagree. What are they selling?

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posted by Simon E [1882 posts]
25th January 2014 - 19:43

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Simon E wrote:
glynr36 wrote:
A page of sales guff isn't a peer reviewed paper.
That's no better or worse than someone linking a page from a multi v manufacturer on the benefits of multi v's.

I understand your point but I disagree. What are they selling?

Nutrition plans.

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/coaching/lean-eating-for-men

$99 to sign up, and $99 a month, if you get on the presale, or $150 instead!

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posted by glynr36 [231 posts]
25th January 2014 - 19:51

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Personally I have felt the benefit of protein / carb drinks after every workout - but then I eat very little meat so that may be why. For me, it really is a direct relationship between aches / no aches.
I dont know about multivits, but its probably true that if you exercise a lot, you'll need more than if you are entirely sedentary. How much more? Do you already get enough in your diet anyway? Thats a good question.
What is 'a good diet'? That can be controversial too. If you listen to the Paeleo diet people, they wouldn't agree with the current perceived wisdom of what we should be eating.
Good stretching post workout also helps me.
I'd also echo the advice of 'get plenty of rest'. During the later stages of sleep is when you release HGH which repairs and builds muscle. Short nights of sleep don't allow you to do that.
If you want to be able to go 'another gear' I'd say there are two things you'll need - one, a good FTP level, and two, a well developed ability to spin the legs up to a high speed and develop a lot of power, whilst flushing out the lactic acid efficiently. So that would be lots of long, slowish aerobic training for one) and lots of intervals for two).
But, you probably knew that all anyway!
Good luck.

posted by edster99 [145 posts]
25th January 2014 - 20:19

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