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Should I as a cyclist take nutritional supplements?

No. Prioritize a well-balanced diet rich in nutrients as the primary strategy for maintaining good health. Only consider taking nutritional supplements when facing, or being at higher risk of, a nutrient deficiency after consultation with a sports dietitian or health practitioner.

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Written by: The Athlete’s FoodCoach, on 09-10-2023
Orange half filled with supplement pills

Why should I not take nutritional supplements?

  1. Replacement of daily nutrition is impossible: The use of nutritional supplements might lead to the neglect of proper basic nutrition. Whole foods provide a wide range of essential nutrients; avoid replacing them with supplements.
  2. No direct effect on performance: Vitamins and minerals supplements usually don't boost athletic performance for those with balanced diets. Many ”performance-enhancing” supplements lack robust scientific evidence to support their claims.
  3. Risk of over consumption: Overusing certain nutritional supplements, such as high-dose vitamins or minerals, can have adverse health effects. It's possible to exceed safe levels of intake and experience toxicities.
  4. Risk of contaminants, mislabeling, and banned substances: The supplement industry lacks tight regulation compared to pharmaceuticals, leading to variable quality and safety. Certain supplements may contain contaminants, mislabeled ingredients or substances prohibited by anti-doping agencies.
  5. There is a budget-alternative: A well-balanced diet is cheaper and in most cases adequate for meeting nutrient needs. Don't waste money on supplements that claim to boost immunity or performance but do not have strong scientific evidence.

How do I get my nutritional supplements on point?

With the FoodCoach app you create a varied daily nutrition plan tailored to your individual needs and demanding training schedule. Remember the real difference in performance is made with your daily nutrition. Consider nutritional supplements for:

  1. Correcting nutrient deficiencies: If you have documented deficiencies in specific vitamins or minerals that can't be resolved through diet alone, supplements may be necessary. Correcting nutrient deficiencies might lead to improved overall health and as a result potentially better performance.
  2. High-risk regions: In areas with limited sunlight, like Northern Europe during winter, Vitamin D deficiency is very common. A Vitamin D3 supplement may help to decrease the risk, but be cautious of high doses since this may be toxic.The recommended supplement dosage of Vitamin D3 is 25-100 µg per day.
  3. Unbalanced food intake periods: During travel, limited food supply, or times of restricted energy intake, nutritional supplements can temporarily support your needs.
  4. High-level competition periods: Studies have shown that high-intensity endurance exercise can temporarily depress some aspects of immune function. While a well-balanced diet is usually enough, in some specific cases of intense endurance training supplements may help reduce the risk of immune issues. There is some evidence Zinc lozenges (>75mg/day) can reduce the number of days with illness symptoms.

Always consult a sports dietitian or health professional for personalized guidance on supplement selection based on your individual requirements and performance goals. As a professional athlete always check if the supplement is tested for quality and purity (anti-doping).

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