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MCT oil or Medium Chain Triglyceride Oil to give it its full name becoming more and more prevalent in endurance sports it is claimed that is can improve fat metabolism boost muscular endurance and even improve brain function. These are big claims from its manufacturers but my interest is in how it can be used to improve cycling performance.
Lets first look at what it is. MCT oil is in its basic sense a fat oil. It is an extract of coconut oil or palm oil which is readily usable as an energy source. To qualify as a medium chain triglyceride it should contain 8 or 10 carbon chain links this will enable it to be processed quickly and be used as a source of energy. A coconut oil despite being touted as a MCT oil actually is predominantly 12 chain links of carbon this means that upon digestion it passes directly into the lymphatic system where it can be converted into fat which slows down the absorption rate.
When taking a dose of MCT oil it passes directly into the liver where it helps to regularise blood sugar levels, increase metabolism (in particullar from fat). It is converted into ketones which are the brains preferred energy source and can rapidly be used to improve brain function. Whilst in the GI tract it does not require further breaking down like a long chain fat would enabling it to pass through and be processed quickly. This is the reason that MCT is given to patient in hospital to improve recovery rates by enabling the body to concentrate on healing itself. It is for this reason it could be used effectively in cycling. Rather than trying to process and break down more complicated sources of energy the body can be left to concentrate on its task.
Studies have shown that it also improves muscular endurance significantly by allowing fast energy replenishment. In a study using conditioned cyclists. The cyclists pedalled for three hours. During the last hour they were each given a beverage to drink. Those who received beverages containing MCT out performed the others. Because of studies like these many of the sports drinks and energy bars sold at health food stores contain MCT to provide a quick source of energy.
These reasons are why MCT oil is widely used in the professional cycling peloton and should be used by amateur cyclists who are looking to improve their performance and general health. This is a very basic overview of MCT oil get out there and try it!
What is Cold thermogenesis and how can it be used to improve your cycling?
The premise of cold thermogenesis is that brief and regular exposure to natural stresses such as Cold water can improve health and body function. There have been many claims as to its effectiveness which include a reduction in inflammation, pain and improved blood flow. This is why the icing of injuries is such an effective treatment protocol. It is also claimed that you can improve immune function.
The key to Success with cold thermometer’s is that the body is taxed regularly, one cold shower wont turn you into a strava world beater. Studies in Polar swimmers showed a significant increase in ability to regulate body temperatures which lead to an increase in metabolic rate and thus fat loss. This is where its use can truly benefit a cyclist. A reduction in fat will lead to an increase in power to weight ratio or watts per kilo.
There is no set protocol for cold thermogenesis but here are a few guidelines which will help you to get the most from CT:
To increase the activation of BAT certain foods can be used. These include dark chocolate, Turmeric, Green tea, hot peppers and Cinnamon.
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