Supplements, Science and Performance

Pro Coaches and Riders There is a lot we can learn from them
 I am friends with one of the top professional cycling coaches, let’s call him “Sam.”  When I talk about the what pros and “Sam” to my friends they believe it is all just doping.  Sam really has a health first philosophy.   I feel I know him well enough to trust him; he has never personally been involved with doping.  There are many “clean” coaches and clean riders performing at the top levels.  They just are just less likely to be winning.  It seems there may even be a trend back towards clean racing.

A Great Book by a pro-rider
The book called “Faster:…” written by a pro-cyclist, Michael Hutchinson on  Amazon.  If you read the book, you will probably believe Michael was a clean rider as well.  Michael goes into great detail about what the pros do both clean and not clean. Michael’s insights align very closely with Sam’s.
Many top coaches including Sam take a science-based approach to training and coaching.  If you read the magazines, there are new fad supplements all the time that will “work magic.” Most science-based coaches don’t waste their time with this noise.  They look at reputable scientific studies that produced measurable results. My coach friend frequently follows these studies by testing on himself, and if everything aligns, bring it to team members and lab verification when possible.

The Best “Tricks”
So what are the “pros clean tricks?” Most top coaches start with sleep, diet, and proper recovery from hard training.  If you are not getting those things right, then you are wasting your time trying to get incremental gains from the right pills, the perfect workouts and plan and/or some other magic formulas.  Unless you are unemployed and under 25, five hard workout days a week is too much for 99% of riders.  Not enough recovery to maximize your training.  Sure you might get fast but you won’t reach your maximum potential.  You can ride 5+ days a week, but only if you are great at executing recovery rides.
Team Sky
So what does Team Sky drink before training?  A big glass of fresh green vegetable juice.  Green veggie juice makes you healthier and importantly helps reduce the chances of unexpected days off.  Eating “perfect” is ideal, but just making sure you get lots of micro-nutrients from fresh, whole fruits and vegetables is a huge first step. Reducing the amount of processed food is another good step.  Minimize junk food.  
According to Michael Hutchinson, sleep might be even more important than diet.  Sleep is when recovery happens.  Do you want to get faster? Sleep more and better.
What Supplements?

Ok, enough about that, give me the pills to get faster.  🙂  Ok, how do we apply the science-based approach to supplements?  Many pros and experts rely on a great site called  These guys are different.  You can read about them.  They are 100% science-based and not funded by any external groups or advertisers.  Their revenue only comes from their subscribers.  When they recommend something such as Creatine, as a core training supplement it is because study after study all confirm the same thing.  It is low risk, and it produces visible, measurable results. Now I can say you still have to apply that to yourself and take it father.  Creatine has clear benefits in strength training which may fall into sprinting.  It’s less clear of the benefits for endurance cycling.  Again start with something known to produce results rather than just good marketing and make decisions for yourself.

Creatine for example?
Examine recommends creatine for fitness.  Why? Because study after study all confirm the same thing.  It is low risk, and it produces visible, measurable results.  Ok, great you need it right? Not so fast.  Creatine has clear benefits in strength training.  These benefits may aid anaerobic work such as sprinting but creatine has no proven record in helping purely aerobic activities. So the point is even when looking at Examine or any other source you should make sure it makes sense for your needs and goals. 

In general has excellent recommendations.  I have read many of their guides, and they also put sleep and diet far above supplementation.  The guides seem a little expensive for the amount of info but if you are one to spend money experimenting with supplements you should get a reasonable return on your money.  

Examine also has an excellent article called the – 4 science-based “superfoods” you should consider eating
I hope this helps, and best of luck with your sleep, diet, recovery.  Maybe some Magnesium or other supplements might help with sleep 🙂  As a disclaimer, I am not an expert, I just read a lot and know some real experts ~alex

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