One of the questions I get over and over is about supplements and which one should I take? In this guide, I will clarify if you need to take supplements with the peloton, and if so, which ones are worth it?
Overall, you should take supplements for the peloton training because strenuous physical activity reduces micronutrient concentration. The best supplements to take are protein powder, omega 3 fatty acids, green powder, and multivitamins.
However, there is a lot of controversy and debate about the efficacy of some of those supplements. Keep reading to learn more about why do we need supplements and how does endurance and strength training affect your nutritional needs.
8 Best Peloton Supplements
In general, some supplements can improve athletic performance, increase metabolic capacity, delay fatigue, improve muscle hypertrophy and even shorten recovery periods. However, the majority of them aren’t that effective, yet heavily marketed, which can be controversial.
Who needs to take supplements? There are few groups of people who should take supplements more than others. This includes smokers, pregnant women, or people over the age of 50. Also, people with insufficient sun exposure, darker skin, or plant-based eaters.
This also includes physically active people.
In the perfect world, most people who train regularly, eat whole and minimally processed food and have the right work-life balance don’t need additional supplements.
Supplements should always take second place after high-quality nutrition. An extra hour of sleep, few more servings of veggies, or a 30-minute brisk walk done daily will likely have more benefits than all supplements combined.
However, our modern and fast-paced lifestyle doesn’t always match our goals, values, and priorities.
Here are the best supplements you should take with the peloton, based on current research.
#1 Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Strenuous peloton rides and long-endurance sessions lead to oxidative stress and increase the formation of free radicals while weakening the antioxidant defenses in the immune system. This increases fatigue, muscle soreness, and lower performance.
Why omega 3 are good for the peloton? As a whole, the omega 3 fatty acids are good for the peloton because they help to increase antioxidant activity and protect against free radical damage after strenuous exercise. This leads to faster recovery, lower fatigue, and better performance.
There are three omega 3 fatty acids:
- EPA eicosapentaenoic acid
- DHA docosahexaenoic acid
- ALA alpha‐linolenic acid
How much omega 3 per day? Overall, most of the omega 3 labels recommend a minimum of 250–500 mg combined EPA and DHA each day for healthy adults. However, research on omega 3 has shown that high-dose (above 1000mg/day) is more superior to low-dose.
NOTE: ALA fatty acids are plant-based oils and have a poor conversion to EPA and DHA.
Studies have shown that “eating more ALA (from walnuts or enriched margarine) probably makes little difference, and the evidence for its efficacy is very low quality” (Abdelhamid et al. 2018).
This means you need to pay attention to the labels and choose the omega 3 with a high amount of EPA and DHA as not all omega-3 products are created equal. You also shouldn’t rely on ALA from walnuts as your omega 3 source.
The effects of vitamin and mineral supplements remain controversial.
Some studies report that there is no evidence about their efficacy, while others state that multivitamins reduce inadequacies in micronutrient intake.
However, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey have shown that 45% of the U.S. population did not meet recommendations for micronutrients intake.
Mot current research has concluded that multivitamins can be used to correct micronutrient deficiency, however, they should not be used on daily basis (more on that later).
Why multivitamin is good for cyclists? As a whole, multivitamins are good for the peloton because they help to balance the loss of minerals and vitamins after strenuous cycling rides. Sweating and increased urinary losses increase the excretion of sodium, magnesium, iron, and potassium.
Using peloton daily increases physical activity, as well as puts heavier demands on physical and cognitive recovery.
In other words, people who train hard.
- need more calories
- need beter quality food
- need some supplements to make up for any gaps
Regular exercise causes the body to use more energy, as well as creates higher needs for some minerals, compared to sedentary people.
Not only that.
High psychological and physical stress, as well as a busy lifestyle, has a negative effect on micronutrient concentration and often leads to micronutrient depletion. Also, studies have shown that stress can prevent the body from absorbing essential nutrients.
Which nutrients are depleted by stress? Overall, chronic stress leads to increases in adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol levels. This can deplete the body of some of the vitamins like C, A, and E, as well as the minerals like magnesium, zinc, selenium, and calcium.
- Magnesium – Studies on healthy college students during the final term examination period have shown that elevated stress was correlated with lower magnesium concentration and chronic sleep deprivation (Takase et al. 2004).
- Zinc – A study done on the Navy SEAL trainees during 5 day “Hell Week” (the combination of physical and psychological stress) have shown decreased Zinc (33%), iron (44%), and selenium (12%) (Singh et al. 1991).
- Calcium – Korean national health and nutrition examination survey have demonstrated a significant correlation between decreased bone mineral density and psychological stress across over 16,000 adults (Hahn et al. 2017).
There is more!
Psychological stress over a long time impacts the gastrointestinal tract and nutrient absorption. It also negatively impacts emotions and can trigger unwanted food choices.
In other words, both psychological and physical stress (high training volume) not only can make you eat more, but also increase the desire to eat high-calorie dense (and low nutrient-dense) processed foods full of salt, sugar, and trans fat.
Pre-workouts are the second most popular supplements in the industry right after multivitamins. I like to take pre-workout before my peloton rides, especially if it’s early in the morning.
Not only it helps with better focus, but also I can do longer and more intense sessions.
Studies have shown that “pre-workout supplements lead to significant improvements in anaerobic peak and mean power values, comparing to the placebo” (Martinez et al. 2016).
Why pre-workout is good for the peloton? As a whole, the pre-workout supplements are good for peloton workouts because they can delay fatigue and enhance exercise performance. They also inhibit action at the adenosine receptors, which leads to decreased perception of pain and effort.
In other words, you can train slightly harder and longer, without running out of gas. Some studies also found that pre-workouts preserve muscle glycogen, which helps with endurance rides.
The herbs and amino acids blend in pre-workouts often work synergistically, which means some products will have different effects than others.
The key ingredients in pre-workout:
NOTE: Taking pre-workout after 4 pm can result in sleep disturbances (more on that later).
#4 Protein Powder
Protein powder can be used in many ways; from post-workout shakes, meal replacements to smoothies and even cooking and baking.
Some of the best animal-derived protein powders include:
- whey protein
- casein protein
- whey-casein mix
- egg white protein
Here are the plant-based protein powders:
- rice protein
- pea protein
- hemp protein
- pumpkin protein
Why protein powders are good? As a whole, the protein powders are good for peloton because they provide a high-quality protein source, without adding extra calories to the diet. This helps to maintain a calorie deficit, as well as build more muscle mass, especially for people who don’t get enough protein during the day.
Plus, it’s not a secret that endurance training significantly alters the concentration and metabolism of proteins.
Amino acids that are normally available for protein synthesis are now oxidized and used for energy. This suppresses muscle protein synthesis and increases muscle protein breakdown.
At the same time, strenuous exercise session triggers the skeletal muscle remodeling, which requires even more amino acids.
This means that daily intense exercise can lead to decreased muscle mass if you don’t alter the diet and add sufficient protein.
Here are the current recommendations for protein intake for endurance training.
Getting enough proteins not only helps you maintain muscle mass but also recover faster.
Here you can see how much protein you should consume for endurance, based on your body weight per day.
|Bodyweight||Grams of protein per day|
|130 lbs||70 – 80|
|150 lbs||80 – 95|
|170 lbs||90 – 100|
|190 lbs||100 – 120|
|210 lbs||110 – 130|
|230 lbs||125 – 145|
|250 lbs||130 – 160|
One more thing.
Keep in mind that those numbers almost double if you choose to add strength training, as well as a calorie deficit. A hypocaloric diet creates metabolic adaptations that also alter the way the body uses proteins.
Doing calorie deficit together with resistance training increases the protein needs to 1.8 to 2.0 grams per kg of body weight. That includes peloton classes like strength, HIIT cardio, or even Bootcamp.
People who focus only on strength training need even more than that.
Studies have shown that “Higher protein intakes (2.3 – 3.1 g per kg per day) may be needed to maximize the retention of lean body mass in resistance-trained subjects during hypocaloric periods (Jäger et al. 2017)”
Adding enough proteins while being in a calorie deficit helps with fat loss by maintaining lean muscle mass and increasing satiety.
Here you can see how much protein you should consume for strength while being in a calorie deficit.
|Bodyweight||Grams of protein per day|
|130 lbs||135 – 170|
|150 lbs||150 – 200|
|170 lbs||170 – 230|
|190 lbs||190 – 250|
|210 lbs||210 – 280|
|230 lbs||240 – 300|
|250 lbs||260 – 340|
As you can see, the number of proteins can quickly add up depending on the type of workouts you do. That’s why supplements can be:
- more convenient to make up for the rest.
- helps to keep the high protein intake, without eating too many solid foods.
- can be used together with other meals like cereals, yogurts, cakes, even coffee.
On the other hand, I don’t recommend drinking protein shakes exclusively as a food replacement.
Is it better to get protein from food or supplements? As a whole, it is much better to get proteins from food because foods source high in protein contain other essential nutrients. However, people who need more proteins per day can find taking a supplement more realistic.
What should I drink before peloton? Before the peloton ride, you should drink 200 to 300 ml (6 – 8oz) of water. For the longer rides and multiple classes, you can add some essential amino acids together with carbohydrates to help with energy and recovery.
Wanna learn more? Click here to read about the “peloton diet” and what should you eat to support your goals.
#5 Green Powder
Green powders contain veggie extracts, fruit extracts, and marine plant extracts that have been compacted and distilled into powder form. They also include some nutrient-rich foods like spirulina, barley grass, wheatgrass, chlorella, and other herbs.
Why green powder is good? As a whole, green powder supplements are good because they contain naturally occurring minerals and micronutrients. People who don’t have enough fruits and veggies in their diet may find green powder as a convenient substitute while working on creating a habit of eating more veggies.
Getting the right nutrition dialed in takes time. This means you can add more green powder now, and gradually reduce the use of it, while simultaneously adding more fresh fruits and veggies to the diet.
Another important factor why we should consider taking the green powder is the lack of nutrients and nutrient imbalance in the soil.
According to Dr. Christine Jones, an Australian soil ecologist, adding nitrogen to the soil has a negative effect on nutrient acquisition. Overall, nitrogen and phosphorus are critical in controlling plant growth.
However, too much nitrogen influences plant biodiversity and lead to nutrient imbalance (Lu et al. 2010).
As stated by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) nitrogen deposition has been increasing significantly in the past 100 years.
In the graph above you can see two different plants. On your right, the plant is much bigger and has richer color. However, it has fewer roots, compared to the plant on the left side.
According to Dr. Jones, adding fertilizers containing nitrogen helps to stimulate plants’ growth, but at the same time, it inhibits the nutrient density of the plant.
Plant access the minerals and nutrients from the soil by its roots. Adding too much nitrogen inhibits the absorption of those nutrients (source).
If you want to learn more about this process and the exact science behind nitrogen use, I recommend going down the rabbit hole of Dr. Jones’s work here.
Plus, it is also portable and easy to pack anywhere you go. It can also be added to the shakes and smoothies.
NOTE: Green powders should not be viewed as a substitute for fruits and vegetables. It should be viewed as a transition substance while you develop a foundation of getting more fresh fruits and veggies.
#6 Essential Amino Acids (EAA)
Essential amino acids are the molecules that create proteins. They cannot be manufactured in the body, which means you need to come from food.
Why amino acids are good? As a whole, amino acids are good for the peloton because they help to enhance exercise performance, improve muscle and immune recovery, as well as reduce body fat. EAA should be taken during your workout times, especially with the longer rides.
EAA is also important if you aim to train multiple times per day. They help to keep the amino acid pool high, which lowers the muscle protein breakdown.
Is BCAA Good for cyclists?
NOTE: Choose the EAA without added chemicals like artificial colors and strong sweeteners.
#7 Creatine Monohydrate
Creatine monohydrate is one of the most studied and proven supplements available for athletes. From over 500 studies, over 70% have shown a positive effect on performance. The daily recommended dose for creatine I around 3 to 5 grams per day.
Why creatine is good for cycling? Overall, creatine is good for the peloton, especially for short high-intensity interval training rides. It influences the ATP-CP system and increases skeletal muscle creatine levels, which means it can generate more energy for short-duration high-energy jobs.
Creatine supplements also increase the water absorption (retention) in the muscle cells, which can increase muscle protein synthesis and glycogen storage.
This may have a visual effect of muscles looking more “bulky”.
I can recommend creatine monohydrate if you’re looking to build muscle mass, prevent from losing muscle while being in a calorie deficit, and train for performance rides.
One problem with creatine monohydrate is the taste. You can learn more about “how to make creatine taste better” in my article here.
NOTE: Females who want fat loss may want to avoid creatine because of its water retention capacity.
#8 Supplements for Sleep
Getting enough sleep not only helps to recover better from hard endurance and power zone rides but also helps to manage the blood sugar better, lose fat and gain muscle more easily.
However, most people struggle to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Here are some factors that can contribute to poor quality of sleep:
- calorie deficit
- training times
- not eating enough carbs
- chronic stress
Can cycling keep you awake? As a whole, cycling on the peloton bike after hours can keep you awake, especially if you do high-intensity interval training rides. After exercise strenuous exercise the body temperature rises, as well as the sympathetic response, which can disturb sleep patterns.
Here are some of the supplements and strategies to help you get better sleep.
- Phosphatidylserine – This is a chemical (also called a phospholipid) responsible for many functions in the human body, especially in the brain. It stops the hyperactive production of cortisol in the body.
- Relora – Relora is a combination of Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense. This can help to relieve stress, kick start parasympathetic response, and reduce stress-related eating.
- 5-HTP – This is a dietary supplement that helps to raise serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin plays a role in the modulation of the sleep/wake cycle.
- Magnesium – Long-distance rides and sweating often deplete magnesium levels. Take 100–400 mg, 30–60 min before bed. You can also try magnesium-based Epsom salt baths before bed.
- Melatonin – This is a hormone that the brain produces in response to darkness. Take 3–5 mg, 30–60 min before bedtime.
- Reduce caffeine – Some people are sensitive to caffeine more than others. Try reducing caffeine and/or not consuming it after 4 pm. This includes caffeine sources like dark chocolate, cola, green tea, or other stimulants.
- Avoid low-carb diets – Low carbohydrates and calorie deficit often lead to high cortisol levels. Changes in cortisol rhythms lead to epinephrine release and sleep disturbance.
- Reduce alcohol – Alcoholic beverages before bedtime can disrupt sleep patterns and reduce REM sleep.
NOTE: I won’t be covering the effects of alcohol on your muscle gains. I’ve already covered that in my article “does alcohol kill gains“, which I recommend you read.
How Often Should You Take Supplements?
Now you understand which supplements are worth taking for the peloton training. Next, you can see the table of how often to take them.
|Supplement||When to take it?|
|Omega 3 Fatty Acids||Take 2-3 g of total omega-3-rich fish oil per day with meals.|
|Multivitamin||Take 1 serving twice per week with meals.|
|Pre-workout||Take 1 serving 30 minutes before training|
|Protein Powder||Take 1 serving after the workout and/or with other meals|
|Green Powder||Take 1-2 servings per day|
|Essential Amino Acids||Take 10 g during workouts|
|Creatine Monohydrate||Take 5000 mg on high-intensity and strength training days|
|Phosphatidylserine||Take 100 mg an hour before bed.|
|Relora||Take 1 serving three times per day|
|5-HTP||Take 250–300 mg, 30 minutes before a meal|
I bolded “with meals” on multivitamins and omega 3 fatty acids because any lipids and fat-soluble vitamins need to be present with food to be fully absorbed.
As a whole, most people don’t need supplements, as long as they follow a well-balanced nutrition plan and well-structured exercise program. Only a few people truly need, benefit from, or can remember to regularly use supplements.
In the perfect world, we can get the nutrients and everything we need from food. However, once you add physical activity, stress, and other environmental factors, I think most of us can benefit from dietary supplementation.