Dietary supplements are an integral part of a cyclist's diet. In fact, we believe it's almost impossible to fulfill the nutritional needs of a cyclist without supplements, especially when we are talking about a high-intensity performance.
All these supplements, and many more, are almost indispensable for a dedicated cyclist, but not all supplements are created equal.
In this blog, we give you the best dietary supplements for cycling in 2024.
Sports nutrition for cycling
Before we delve into specific dietary supplements, let us explain some important aspects of sports nutrition for cycling.
Carbohydrates, the main source of energy
For a cyclist, the most important nutrient are carbohydrates, which have many positive effects.
- Main source of energy
- Body functions support
- Stress reduction
- Increased well-being
- Correct organ function
- Boost metabolism
In fact, the carbohydrate intake begins before exercise when it's time to fill your glycogen stores (carbloading), continues during exercise to slow down glycogen consumption (fueling), and ends after exercise when it's time for recovery, which also represents the filling of glycogen stores for your next exercise.
Fueling: carbohydrate intake during exercise
One of the most important aspects of nutrition for cyclists is fueling, that is carbohydrate intake during exercise.
During high-intensity exercise you need to intake 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour, in extreme cases even more.
Such a high carbohydrate intake can obviously be problematic in terms of absorption and digestive issues, experienced by many cyclists.
For this reason, you need to choose efficient dietary supplements and progressively prepare your digestive tract for such high intakes, i.e. gut training.
Hydration: electrolyte intake during exercise
Hydration during exercise is crucial for a cyclist. This includes a sufficient intake of fluid and the correct concentration of minerals aka electrolytes, primarily salt.
But you must be careful. Minerals may also cause digestive issues, especially if you consume high amounts of magnesium.
There is this persistent myth that magnesium prevents muscle cramps, which is why this mineral, otherwise an extremely important one, is present in excessive amounts in many supplements.
During exercise you must consume up to 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour and replenish the electrolytes you lose with sweat.
Protein, the food of muscles
Protein is an essential element of your muscles, which makes them indispensable for recovery and muscle growth.
Protein is so important that many athletes forget the importance of carbohydrates. We see it the other way around. Carbohydrates first, protein later, but this doesn't mean that proteins aren't super important.
It seems obvious that a weightlifter needs to consume a lot of protein, but it's a little less intuitive that a cyclist needs to consume the same amount of protein if not more.
For this reason, your sports nutrition must respect a sufficient intake of protein.
Protein is even more important for cyclists than weightlifters. In addition to a balanced diet, protein may be supplied with dietary supplements.
The best dietary supplements for cycling
Now let's look at the essential dietary supplements for cycling and the specific products we recommend for the 2024 cycling season.
The isotonic drink is the most common dietary supplement in cycling.
The main reason is that it contains both carbohydrates and minerals in combination with water, and you can easily carry it in your sports bottle.
But prudence is required. Many isotonic drinks are low quality and will not fulfill your needs. Even worse, they may contain harmful ingredients and cause digestive issues.
The most important aspects you should observe:
- carbohydrate ratio,
- electrolyte ratio,
- ingredient quality.
If you aim to absorb 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour, you must consume a combination of glucose and fructose. This allows you to use both carbohydrate transporters in your body. Unfortunately, only glucose has a maximum absorption rate of 60 grams per hour.
The best isotonic drink for such high absorption is Nrgy Unit Drink by Nduranz, which contains a combination of glucose and fructose in the ideal ratio of 1:0.8 and an advanced electrolyte mix.
An isotonic drink contains energy in the form of carbohydrates and minerals the replenish the electrolytes you lose in your sweat.
The sports isotonic drink and energy gel go hand in hand. A bottle or two on the bike, and the pockets full of energy gels; the typical image of a cyclist who wishes to optimize his or her nutrition during exercise.
There is a small problem with the energy gel, though. Most energy gels contain a relatively low amount of carbohydrates, that is 20 grams per gel. If you want to consume 90 grams of carbohydrates per hour, you should consume 4 to 5 energy gel. Quite a hassle, both for your pockets and your stomach.
Nduranz has developed an energy gel that contains 45 grams of carbohydrates per gel. This considerably reduces the amount of energy gels you must consume per hour. It's an important development in the world of sports nutrition that greatly facilitates fueling for endurance athletes.
The energy gel is a very popular dietary supplement among cyclists.
Most cyclists know they must intake carbohydrates as a source of energy during exercise, but way too many underestimate the importance of recovery.
That's a shame, as recovery is one of the most important aspects of sports nutrition, which allows you to:
- refill your glycogen stores,
- enable body functions,
- support your immune system,
- refill your energy levels,
- prepare for next exercise.
To recover, your body needs carbohydrates, protein, and electrolytes within 30 minutes after exercise.
The recovery drink Regen by Nduranz contains all that you need for optimal recovery:
- combination of glucose and fructose for fast absorption,
- purest source of whey isolate protein WPI90,
- advanced electrolyte mix for efficient rehydration.
The protein drink is a very useful dietary supplement that you can easily include in your daily diet as part of breakfast or drink after exercise.
But when recovery is at stake, it's always better to drink a recovery drink, which in addition to protein contains carbohydrates and minerals.
Since protein supplements are so widespread in the world of sports nutrition, it would be difficult to imagine the market wasn't filled with protein drinks. Unfortunately, way too often they are of low quality.
- Weak amino acid profile
- Artificial ingredients
- Too much fat
- Bad taste
If you want the best for your muscles, you must choose a good protein drink. These are the protein drinks we recommend to our athletes.
Vitamins and minerals
Vitamins and minerals are considered micronutrients. This refers to the amount you need and not to their importance. Vitamins and minerals, in fact, are essential to boost your immune system, which protects your body from illness and infections.
Since it's difficult to consume sufficient quantities of vitamins and minerals only through food, most cyclists use dietary supplements.
Immuno 4Endurance Pro contains a carefully-crafted combination of vitamins and minerals required by endurance athletes to sufficiently boost their immune system. Learn more about the vital importance of a strong immune system!
While vitamins and minerals are often considered together, it is interesting to note that during exercise you don't need to supplement vitamins, but you absolutely must supplement the minerals you lose with sweat, especially salt.
Adaptogens are relatively new in the world of dietary supplements for cycling, but they provide two very significant benefits.
- Reduce stress
- Boost oxygen flow
The main benefit of adaptogens is their ability to reduce stress in your body by regulating the level of cortisol released during stressful situations, which includes endurance exercise.
While small doses of stress may be useful, long-term stress becomes harmful, which is why endurance athletes need to learn how to manage it. Among other things, you may use the advice of a sports psychologist!
To make the best use of adaptogens to increase VO2 max, we created Absolute 4Endurance Pro, a potent 100% natural VO2 max booster.
Endurance athletes use pre-workout supplements to increase the sensation of strength and energy.
There are in fact several benefits for using pre-workout supplements:
- increased time to exhaustion,
- better concentration,
- improved metabolism,
- reduced mental fatigue,
- more power and endurance.
If you are looking for another way to improve your performance, Pre-workout Booster 4Energy is a pre-workout supplement created specifically for endurance athletes.
Dietary supplements are an essential part of an efficient sports diet for cyclists, which in combination with regular food provide the cyclist with all the nutrients he or she needs.
Their main purpose is to provide energy (carbohydrates) and hydration (electrolytes) during exercise, boost recovery after exercise (carbohydrates, protein, electrolytes), and fill glycogen stores before exercise (carbohydrates).
Dietary supplements are also the most efficient way to sustain an adequate vitamin and mineral intake, which is difficult to do with regular food only.
Finally, adaptogens are increasingly popular among athletes due to their ability to reduce stress and increase oxygen flow, which allows you to increase your VO2 max.