Cycling supplements have been the subject of numerous tales, absurd claims, and unbelievable anecdotes. When you search online, you can find dozens of posts praising or criticizing these supplements.

However, understand that no single supplement can turn you into a professional cyclist like Tadel Pogacar or Jonas Vingergaard. While some supplements can potentially enhance your cycling performance, most supplements are a waste of money.

Nevertheless, you shouldn’t ignore supplements entirely. Instead, you should focus on the supplements that have been scientifically proven to work. Whether you’re a beginner, a weekend warrior, or a pro, a few basic supplements can help boost your cycling performance.

1. Electrolytes

Electrolytes are essential minerals that play a critical role in maintaining fluid balance and regulating the flow of water and nutrients in and out of cells. Among the various electrolytes, sodium is a vital mineral that helps keep fluid balance and blood pressure in check.

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Potassium, magnesium, and calcium are also essential, as are other electrolytes for producing energy. If the electrolyte levels in your body are low, it can lead to various symptoms, such as:

  • Muscle twitching
  • Cramping
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue, and even

Staying hydrated with electrolytes when sweating, exercising at high intensities, or being exposed to high temperatures is essential.

One way to replenish electrolytes is by taking electrolyte supplements. You can also add some Himaraya salt to your bidon if you don’t have electrolyte tablets.

Remember to sip water regularly, even if you don’t feel particularly thirsty.

2. Carbohydrates

When planning long rides or participating in cycling events, consuming carbohydrates is essential because they are your primary energy source. Carbs, once broken down into glucose, provide the necessary energy required to power your muscles as you pedal.

Running out of glucose can lead to unpleasant symptoms such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Queasiness, and
  • Cafe legs, all of which can ultimately hinder your cycling performance.

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To avoid this, you can consume gels or drinks as they can help prevent a shortage of glucose. I recommend setting a reminder that prompts you to eat every 30 minutes. By doing so, you can replenish your glucose levels and keep yourself energized throughout your ride.

3. Caffeine

caffeineResearch has shown that caffeine can improve various aspects of cycling performance, such as time trial performance, power output, and endurance.

If you don’t believe the science, just ask any cyclist. Is it any wonder why we spend half our ride at the cafe?

Here are some ways in which caffeine boosts cycling performance:

  • Increased alertness
  • Improved endurance
  • Enhanced power output and
  • Delaying fatigue

The timing of caffeine consumption is also a key factor. I recommend consuming caffeine about 30-60 minutes before the start of your ride to maximize its performance-enhancing effects. I like a triple espresso latte. How about you?

I also highly recommend experimenting with caffeine during training before incorporating it into a race or event. As with most things in life, it’s important to drink coffee in moderation, as too much caffeine can lead to side effects like jitteriness, insomnia, and increased heart rate.

4. Protein

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While carbohydrates are the primary energy source for cycling, protein is essential for various functions contributing to performance and recovery.

As a cyclist, you will find it beneficial to include protein in your diet to repair muscles, promote muscle synthesis, boost endurance, and manage weight.
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Consuming protein can also help fix the microscopic tears in leg muscles caused by cycling,

Here are some of the benefits.

  • Muscle repair and recovery
  • Muscle synthesis
  • Endurance and stamina
  • Immune function
  • Weight management

Just as with carbohydrates, the timing and amount of protein matters. Consuming protein both before and after a ride is recommended.

The American College of Sports Medicine advises that endurance athletes consume about 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, with higher amounts needed during intense training or recovery periods.

While protein is important, it should be part of a well-balanced diet with adequate carbohydrates and healthy fat intake.

5. Bicarbonate

Bicarbonate, or more specifically, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), acts as a buffer in the body, helping regulate pH levels.

During intense exercise, the muscles produce lactic acid, increasing acidity in the muscle tissue. This acidity can contribute to muscle fatigue. Bicarbonate is thought to buffer this acidity by neutralizing the lactic acid, which may delay the onset of fatigue and improve cycling performance.

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Several studies have investigated the effects of bicarbonate supplementation on performance, especially in activities like high-intensity interval training (HIIT). To be honest, though, the results are mixed, with some studies showing positive effects while others show little to no benefit.

It’s important to note that individual responses to bicarbonate supplementation can vary, and some cyclists may experience gut discomfort as a side effect. On a personal note, I’ve had excellent results supplementing with bicarbonate and have had no negative side effects like I’ve had with creatine.

Cycling man


In closing, I suggest approaching supplements with a critical mindset and not expecting them to work like magic. That said, electrolytes, carbohydrates, caffeine, protein, and bicarbonate are proven supplements that may boost cycling performance.

It’s important to incorporate them into a well-balanced diet and training regimen and always consult a sports nutritionist for personalized advice.

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