Supplements: Science or Snake Oil? Part II

Back on the 14th of April, I posted that I was going to start using nutritional and performance supplements as a part of my work out and cycling regiment. As it turned out I began with a program on the 14th, as my order from amazon had happened to arrive that day.

After fair amount of prior research on performance/test results and side effects of the various supplements I wanted to try, I finally decided on the performance supplement, Arginine/Citrulline powder from Midwest Nutrition. I also purchased More Creatine monohydrate from Vitamin Shoppe, this is a concentrated, unflavored powder. (On sale for $15 bucks)

Two Words

Nitrate Supplements. No, I’m not talking Beet juice and the like, I’m referring to lab made supplements. Which, by the way have proven in several studies to show a boost in performance and muscle endurance. I will point readers to a couple of just many articles on PubMed. You can also read many internet articles on the subject and the results of Arginine, Citrulline and Creatine. The Effects of Supplemental Citrulline-Malate Ingestion… and Citrulline-Arginine malate enhances athletic anaerobic performance.

Side effects are very minimal to almost none, dependent on the individual. The worst side effects I had experienced were an upset stomach for about 2 days and some mild diarrhea for a day, until my digestive tract got used to the Arginine-Citrulline. Six weeks later, I can now say that the 2-3 days of inconvenience was well worth the benefits in my opinion.

So, after beginning to take the Arginine/Citrulline supplement (at 3-5 grams per day for a week) then just 3-5 grams right before riding thereafter, I noticed that after about 2 days my average ride speeds had started to increase. Funny thing is though, my ‘perceived’ effort seemed to be the same as in previous years. Which was a bit surprising to me.

In comparison, most of my average ride speed from the last 2 years have hovered in the high 14 to mid/high 15 mph range. Now to be fair, I never had done any type of ‘training’, I just rode my bike and was not very consistent about riding through the winter back in 2013 and 2014.

But this past winter (Jan-Mar) I made a commitment to try and ride twice a week during the 12 weeks of the Winter season. And so I did manage to average 1.83 rides in those 12 weeks, which is hardly any type of committed riding and certainly didn’t really help to build any type of base. But instead kept me from losing all of my fitness from the last quarter of 2014- as I had done in the prior years. I also vowed to ride with faster groups of people, which I have done a few times so far in 2015.

To date, I have seen about about a 1.25 +/- mph on average increase in my overall ride speeds, dependent upon the terrain (Which is really power output)- so okay not such a significant increase/improvement, but this is without any type of HIIT or pyramid or any training program whatsoever. Since April, I am consistently in the 16 mph range on solo rides, and basically I have been riding very similar types of routes from last year. So, how much of my improvement is down to riding ‘up’ a group in pace, riding a bit through the winter and the addition of the supplements?

It is hard to pin down exactly, though I do believe that the Nitrate supplements have helped slightly, by increasing blood flow, delaying the fatigue that I had been hounded by and also by assisting in repairing muscle tissue during recovery. I also believe that two different supplements I am taking have helped with that overall recovery process as well, including consistently implementing post ride self-massages and better choices of post-ride meals.

Okay, so you may be saying, well it sounds all well and good, but is it really the supplements or is it something else? Is it a bit of a ‘placebo’ effect perhaps? I asked myself that very same question, because I am skeptical about everything. Everything. Though after reading the research abstracts and other various websites with positive testimonies, I was thinking, yeah this is probably the real deal. But, I still wanted more proof to be sure. Well that ‘proof’ arrived in a way that I was really not expecting.

The ‘Proof” is in my pants

“Knock-Knock. Who’s there?”
“Wood. Wood who?”
“Wood you put that thing away before somebody get’s their eye poked out!”

😀 😛

So I am guessing that most men my age and older have or are experiencing the same issues when it comes to erections. Simply put…once in to your mid-late 40’s early 50’s, the frequency and duration of erections in most men falls off. I have for the last few years noticed that my morning ‘wood’ was not so prevalent as it used to be. But low and behold…after 2 weeks of taking the nitrate supplements, I was waking up with more frequent erections. I also noted that the duration was longer as well.

Coincidence? I think not my broom-stick brethren…turns out, that Arginine/Citrulline is often prescribed for mild ED in men. Bingo! Well there you have it. Proof-Positive of an increase in my blood flow, which has equated to an increase in my power output on the bike and as an added bonus, me todger is quite happy these days! 😀

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24898570
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21195829

So far so good with my supplement regiment and now I plan to add aspirin (81mg) and a caffeine (200mg) stack either before or during rides, depending on distance and terrain. I am looking for more endurance with the stack, which on paper should be advantageous. Typically caffeine allows longer efforts at the same or near same intensity levels. I was going to add ephedrine in the stack but for now, I will just use the aspirin/caffeine and note my progress.

(Note: all costs for the supplements were paid by me, this is an unpaid, self analysis and study)

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