I took the day off on Monday, so there is no ride data to report. The good news is that by the time this post becomes live, I will be out on the road trying to pedal my way into a podium finish at LOTOJA in five weeks. Well, perhaps not a podium finish, but at least a sub 11:00. That would be sweet…
Supplementation Can Help
Let’s face it guys, there is a ton of crap out there for sale that offers you a shortcut to improving your performance. If you are a runner, cyclist, or triathlete you know what I am talking about. I have been training with a purpose (not just jogging or pedaling around) for about 12 years now and I have seen a ton of products out there that claim to help you legally improve your performance. Outside of those on the WADA banned substances list, I am not sure there is a supplement that can really improve your performance that I have taken. There was one product that I tried that did seem to help me on a long, brutal ride, but I have only recently tracked down the person who makes the stuff to see if he is still manufacturing it. He has won LOTOJA a handful of times and did make the US Cycling Team at 19, so he does have a little bit of credibility. For this article, we are going to pass his product over until I can get my hands on it again to see if it was a fluke or if the stuff works.
So let’s talk about which supplements I take in real life. While these products seem to work well for me, I would recommend before you pop anything that you talk to your doctor about allergies and what your body can handle. While I like to think I am of a pretty impressive intellect, the truth is I am just a hack with a keyboard, bike, and running shoes. One good resource to consult would be the Little Red Book from Hammer Nutrition (click here to go to their site). I think it is a comprehensive guide to how to use their products wisely and effectively. Some of their products I use and some I don’t. Be smart and make your own decisions.
Let’s face it though — there is no magic bullet. There is no replacement for hard work and putting in the hours training and focusing on proper recovery and nutrition.
Carlson Norwegian Salmon Oil (2,000 mg daily) — Does fish oil really help you with endurance sports? I would argue that it does not improve your cardiovascular capacity (VO2 max) nor does it improve muscle strength. The reason I take it is to increase the Omega-3‘s in my diet. Studies have show that it helps with inflammation. I primarily take it to help with my cholesterol, which frankly is much higher than it should be.
Barlean’s Flax Oil (2,000 mg daily) — I love flax seed. I put a ton of it in my recovery shakes and love how it keeps those guts a flowin’. The oil has a ton of Omega-3’s, 6’s, and 9’s. It also helps with inflammation and I love that it has a ton of lignans in it, which are a natural antioxidant. Someone I trust told me to start taking it to help me with my high cholesterol as well as help keep the inflammation associated with our sports to a minimum.
Red Yeast Rice — This is supposedly a natural statin, which I need because of my cholesterol. My cholesterol test at the end of the summer will show if it is effective or not.
Solaray Ubiquinol CoQ-10 (100 mg daily) — CoQ-10 functions in every cell of the body in the production of energy. The average intake of this molecule in the developed world is 3-5 mg daily and you can see I am taking a bit more than that. This compound is a fantastic anti-oxidant and helps that fantastic cellular engine called mitochondria to function normally. I have only been taking this for a month, but what I have read, CoQ-10 does a great job fighting the free radicals that are produced in excess when we train as much as we do.
Hammer Nutrition Premium Insurance Caps — These are a multi vitamin that I have been taking for years. There may be a more economical similar one out on the market, but I really like the dosage of many of the vitamins and minerals that I need training so much that are provided in this product. That and Hammer Nutrition may have one of the highest levels of customer service in the triathlon community. Outside of Emilio DeSoto at DeSoto Sports of course. Dude is a rock star in my book.
Hammer Nutrition Tissue Rejuvenator — There are a ton of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate products on the market, but I go with Hammer Nutrition because of their service levels. The research I have read is really iffy on the effectiveness of glucosamine and chondroitin at rebuilding connective tissue. What I have read says make sure you take it in the sulfate form as it is more easily absorbed by the body.
There are plenty of products out there that just flat out don’t work. I think there are a couple of Hammer Nutrition products that I would avoid, but that is a post for another day. In my opinion, as long as you are meeting the needs of your body, it would be much more economical to go out and train instead of spending an arm and a leg on supplementing your diet. Eat as much food in its raw form that you can. We have a garden where we raise a ton of veggies and we actually juice from raw fruits and veggies about once a week. Be warned: I have also been known to enjoy a Coke from time to time, so my diet is not as clean as it could be.
I hope this has been helpful — if you have specific questions about the products and substances I have listed, please comment and I will answer them the best I can. Now let’s get out there and workout!