To improve your ability to train at high intensities, increase your power and boost your sprinting and climbing, eating right is as important as riding right.
Even in ‘power’ cycling, your energy comes from a mix of aerobic and anaerobic activity, which means a huge range of nutrients in addition to protein, fats and carbs are needed. So here are some of the best foods and supplements to ﬁnd them in.
What it does: The building block and fuel of muscles. Branched-chain amino acids make up 70 percent of muscle proteins and are increasingly broken down during intense exercise.
Fuel up: At least 1.2g/kg protein body weight. That will mean around four servings daily – and consider using protein shakes after training.
Find it: Lean meat, ﬁsh, shellﬁsh, eggs, legumes, dairy foods, nuts/seeds and whey protein supplements.
What it does: An amino acid, L-glutamine aids muscle repair and is essential for immune, gut and detox support.
Fuel up: 1-4g a day as a supplement.
Find it: Available as supplement and in foods such as lean meat, poultry, ﬁsh, shellﬁsh, eggs, dairy and legumes.
What it does: Releases growth hormone and a precursor to creatine for energy and building up muscle mass.
Fuel up: Best taken as part of a protein supplement. Amount needed depends on body size, but roughly 500-2000mg.
Find it: Found in protein-rich foods – meat, dairy, ﬁsh, shellﬁsh, soy, protein powders and amino acid formulae.
What it does: Used in muscle cells to store energy for explosive exercise. Also increases insulin-like growth factor, building muscle power.
Fuel up: Creatine supplementation can increase sprint performance. There are different ways to take it; try a loading regime of 5g doses four times a day for a week, followed by a reduced dose of 2-5g per day. Or just take 5g daily.
Find it: Creatine supplements come as powders, capsules and are included in drinks. Evidence suggests taking glucose (100g) with creatine (5-7g) increases muscle uptake, so it’s worth taking it with some fruit juice.
L-arginine & L-ornithine
What it does: Amino acids are needed for the production of growth hormone and building up muscle (anabolic), as well as energy production.
Fuel up: Take it as part of a protein supplement. Around 500-3000mg depending on body size.
Find it: Protein-rich foods such as meat, dairy, ﬁsh, soy, nuts, protein powders and amino acid formulae.
What it does: Naturally produced in the body; needed for energy production and a powerful antioxidant.
Fuel up: Consider a supplement after the age of 40. Take 100-300mg daily. If you’re taking the blood-thinning drug Warfarin or heart medication, check with your GP ﬁrst.
Find it: Found in meat, ﬁsh, eggs, organ meats, spinach, broccoli and peanuts. Supplement also available.
What it does: Aids the burning of fats for energy – useful if combining aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
Fuel up: Take between 500-1000mg as a supplement.
Find it: Present in foods including lean meat, poultry, ﬁsh, avocado, whole milk and wholegrain bread.
What it does: Made from the amino acids L-glutamine, L-cysteine and glycine, it’s used for the production of energy (ATP) in the body. It can also help protect muscles from damage.
Fuel up: Whey protein is a useful supplement to boost glutathione levels. Also available as a speciﬁc supplement. Take 250-500mg daily.
Find it: Also found in garlic, onions, meats, spinach, broccoli and walnuts.
HMB (B-hydroxyl B-methylbutyrate monohydrate)
What it does: This naturally produced compound can protect muscle damage and may aid muscle repair.
Fuel up: Take around 3-5g a day. It can cause you to gain weight.
Find it: Available as supplements in capsule and liquid form. Found in a few foods, including alfalfa.
ATP (Adenosine 5’-triphosphate)
What it does: Directly boosts levels of ATP, the body’s base energy molecule, so enhancing delivery of oxygen and glucose to muscles.
Fuel up: Take 125-300mg per day.
Find it: Take as supplement.
What it does: A key component of ATP, it helps maintain an adequate energy pool, overcome soreness and fatigue.
Fuel up: Typical intake 3-5g daily.
Find it: Available as a supplement.
The following nutrients help the body manufacture the essential energy delivery molecule ATP, preventing fatigue and assisting performance. As well as a healthy diet, consider taking a regular multivitamin and mineral formula or a B-vitamin complex.
Good zinc sources: Lean red meat, ﬁsh, milk and dairy products, shellﬁsh, wholemeal cereals, pumpkin seeds, beans and pulses, tofu
Good magnesium sources: Leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, lentils, wholegrain cereals, tofu
Good vitamin B1 sources: Beans, eggs, ﬁsh, organ meats, peanuts, milk, wholegrains
Good vitamin B2 sources: Organ meats, lean meat, fortiﬁed cereals, leafy green vegetables, eggs, milk, cheese, yeast extract, nuts
Good vitamin B3 sources: Beans, ﬁsh, lentils, liver, nuts, poultry, wholegrains, lean meat, breakfast cereals, can also be made from tryptophan (an amino acid)
Good iron sources: Lean red meat, canned sardines, ﬁsh, shellﬁsh, wholegrain cereals, eggs, chicken, leafy green vegetables, fortiﬁed breakfast cereals, lentils
Good manganese sources: Avocado, kale, oranges, beans, pineapple, spinach, seaweed, tea, strawberries, wholegrains