As athletes, we all want to get fitter, leaner, stronger, and faster! Regardless of age or athletic ability, inherent in every cyclist wish list is a secret weapon to get faster without expending more effort. As such, many turn to nutritional supplements. And, there’s good reason to do so too! As it turns out, many products, including beet and cherry juice, are proving to aid in recovery and providing performance-enhancing benefits for endurance athletes. Here’s an overview of what you need to know.
The benefits of tart cherry juice for endurance athletes includes better sleep, ability to fight inflammation, reduced muscle pain, and immunity boosting. Sounds great, right! And drinking tart cherry juice tastes great and is a nice bedtime snack. To maximize its effects, Coach Lynda Wallenfels suggest mixing in 20g of the slow digesting protein casein to boost protein synthesis while you sleep. Also, consider taking another dose of tart cherry juice the following morning to maximize the performance-enhancing benefits it has to offer.
Another natural food worth investigating is beet juice. A study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism suggests adding some nitrate-rich beetroot juice to our workout plan can enhance our stamina, strength, and endurance. How does it work? According to the post, Using Beet Juice to Improve Performance, “Beets contain a large amount of inorganic nitrates. These compounds are the precursor to a very important signalling molecule that our body needs to function- Nitric Oxide2. NO is made naturally within our bodies but we can dramatically increase its availability by eating nitrate rich food. Among other roles, NO acts as a vasodilator in functioning skeletal muscle, increasing the size of blood vessels to allow more oxygen flow. “ Granted, beets are not going to make you fast on their own, but for the athlete that cares about marginal gains, they could provide the race winning boost.
In addition to food based nutrition for enhanced performance, there are cycling specific supplements too. At Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, a favorite nutritional product available post ride is PhysioPhyx. Here’s what we like about this product. PhysioPhyx LPR takes recovery nutrition to a new level of support and performance by delivering a powerful, evidence-based blend of Carbohydrates + Protein + Leucine. This potent combination of nutrients has been precisely formulated to help ensure you rapidly and effectively restore muscle energy (glycogen), minimize muscle soreness, stimulate muscle repair and speed training adaptations after moderate, intense and exhaustive exercise or competition. In fact, recent studies have shown the nutrient trio of Carbs + Protein + Leucine taken after exercise creates an absolute ideal environment for your body to quickly go into recovery overdrive. Who doesn’t like “overdrive”?!
Overall, a solid training program combined with a healthy lifestyle provide the greatest platform for sustained and improved performance. Adding supporting elements like these mentioned can help. While you are at it, you can make improvements to your bike too! Improve bike performance with lighter bike parts. Minimize mechanicals by replacing old drivetrain parts with new ones. Support your body with a bike fit or cycling apparel like compression gear for recovery. Again, there may not be a single best option for fitness gains but every little bit helps!