Over the years, I’ve taken a lot of supplements.
Take creatine, for instance. I did. And it was one of the few that actually seemed to work.
Creatine, which is also created naturally in the body, helps build muscle by giving your muscles a little extra boost. For instance, if you can usually lift 100 pounds, you might be able to do 110 or 115, or maybe do a few more reps.
Translated to bicycling, it won’t help you go faster or farther, but it may give you a little help sprinting or getting up that hill, which could help build up your muscles so you can go faster or farther later.
The only downside I noticed was that it made me a little thirstier. In fact, I may try it again this winter to build my strength back up to where it was before the infamous beachfront bee encounter.
On the other hand, HMB and Pyruvate, which were supposed to help build lean muscle, didn’t seem to do anything at all. Neither did CLA, which was supposed to help burn body fat and convert it to energy. In fact, I lost more weight after I quit taking it — perhaps the 12-tablet daily dosage added an the extra 120 calories to my diet.
L-Glutamine was supposed to help my muscles recover from a hard ride, reducing aching and cramps, and helping them bounce back so I could ride just as hard the next day.
But it did was make me constipated.
And I used to take garlic tablets, for its reputed benefits in managing cholesterol and preventing illness — as well as its legendary anti-vampire properties — but quit following my accident, since garlic is a blood thinner, and may have contributed to me nearly bleeding out following my accident. That’s also why I stopped taking aspirin before a ride.
These days, I tend to take a more natural approach to nutrition.
Now before I ride or go to the gym, I’ll make a smoothie with low-fat yogurt, berries, pineapple, banana, spinach, carrots and broccoli, as well as milk and orange-tangerine juice. It tastes better than it sounds, and gives me a meal high in antioxidants, fiber and natural fruit sugars, for a long-lasting energy boost without the crash that comes from processed sugar. The banana also gives me a shot of potassium to avoid cramping on long rides. And the fact that I get an entire day’s worth of fruits and vegetables in a single serving doesn’t hurt, either.
After my ride, I’ll have a whey shake with added amino acids. The whey protein feeds my muscles, while the aminos help prevent those miserable leg cramps and muscle pains that used to take me hours to recover from. Now just have a quick drink, take a shower and I’m good to go.
No aches. No pains. No cramps.
I also carry a Kashi granola bar and a box of raisins with me when I ride. If I get hungry, the granola bar will keep me going for another hour or two, with no processed sugar and just 120 calories. And I started packing the raisins after reading in Men’s Health that they were just as effective as commercial gels and bars in raising energy levels, with half the calories — and a fraction of the cost.
Of course, I still take a few supplements, but more for general health these days.
For instance, I’ve taken glucosamine and chondroitin for my arthritic right knee for nearly a decade. I stopped taking them for several months recently after questioning whether they were doing any good; however, an increase in knee pain convinced me otherwise.
I started taking Quercetin after reading the results of two studies; one showing that athletes who took 1000 mg daily had a significantly reduced rate of respiratory infections, while the other showed that cyclists who took a similar amount increased endurance by 5% — which may not sound like much, but an extra 5% can make a huge difference at the end of a long ride.
Then there are things like Cinnamon, which has been shown to lower trigylceride levels; Cayenne, which helps lower cholesterol and improve circulation; Green Tea, which improves the ratio of LDL (bad cholesterol) to HDL (good cholesterol); and Turmeric, which has shown promise as everything from an anti-inflammatory to an anti-carcinogen.
Which just goes to show that the right foods really could save your life.
Damien at Streetsblog reports the good doctor’s case is proceeding through the legal system, while SoapBox LA gives a detailed rundown of the hearing; not to be too cynical, but I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t plead out for probation. Evidently, Ballona Creek isn’t the area’s only deadly bike path. Thanks to Los Angeles Rides for providing links to the links for this weekend’s Toy Ride and Holiday Beer Ride. Will witnesses the intersection of hipster biker and bus. Guess which one lost? And Illuminate LA provides another perspective on the bike licensing issue.