Nutrition is an essential part of success in any sport, and cycling is certainly no different. Here we will discuss the optimal strategies to get the most out of training and competing. Nutrition is always a tough one, but will change dramatically depending on your body size, goals and time of season. A high carbohydrate training diet is a must to maximize your glycogen stores, which is the biggest limited factor in endurance sport. There is also a slight increase in daily protein requirements with training. When training regularly, or riding multiday endurance events; Caloric expenditures need to be consciously replaced to counteract the appetite suppression that follows from long hours of training. Obviously diet will change dramatically depending on the type of training or competition such as a multi-day event.
Ultimately a 3-7 day, pre event, carbohydrate loading program will allow you to maximize muscle/liver glycogen storage and a 2-4 hour pre event meal should be utilized to top up glycogen stores however, some riders experience intestinal distress or symptoms of hypoglycemia if they eat in the 2 to 4 hours immediately before an event and therefore each diet should be adjusted to the individual. Again according to the training session, diet will change significantly.
Our bodies only have limited glycogen stores therefore calories must be taken in during exercise of greater than 2 hours in duration to avoid depleting these stores. Solid foods may offer some advantages in longer events, ridden at slower paces, but in high exertion liquid supplements minimize problems from delayed gastric emptying.
Over hydration can be an issue just as well as dehydration can be during long events. Therefore, you should understand how much water your body uses in different conditions and training sessions to ensure what is lost, is replaced. Salt replacement may also be necessary in the form of isotonic drinks on longer and more intense efforts on the bike. Having a plan that works and then sticking to that plan is the formula to ride at your best. Make sure you always keep on top of glycogen stores and hydration as it is difficult to refuel when these become depleted.
RECOMMENDED NUTRITION PLAN
So here are a few tips to get us started…
Practice eating while cycling
Don’t switch foods on ride day
Make it simple for your digestive system
Don’t fill up during the final run in to the finish
BASELINE TRAINING DIET
First determine your own individual daily Caloric need,This will have to be an individual judgement based on training amount and weight management in addition to your normal daily requirements.
Eat a baseline daily diet of:
Protein ~ 1.5 g x BW in kg (4Kcal from 1 gram of Protein)
Fat ~70 g fat (9 Kcal/g)
Carbhydrate ~ variable (4Kcal/g) rougly 60% of you’re diet
This will form the remains fo your diet. The form of carbodhyarte will be modified depending on-
- During the event
- Post event
Days prior to the event
~10g/kg Carbohydrate (CHO) per day
Carbohydrate loading and exercise Tapering
Mix of Simple and Complex Carbs
Remain hydrated at all times
Hours prior to the event
~300g complex CHO
Calorific dense glucose polymer fluid
Define your own limits- find out how much carbohydrate your body can take pre-event without a limitation to performance
A 50g ‘Boost’ of CHO (i.e. sports bar)
DURING THE EVENT
Regularly replace CHO throughout at ~60g of carbohydrate per hour, this can be met through Liquid & may be a more efficient option
~800 ml/hour but find out how your body works
Drink at regular intervals i.e. 15 min. intervals
Immediate ingestion of 3-6g CHO/ kg (within 2 hours post event optimal) – your metabolism will remain elevated for a long period of time depending on the type of event (i.e. intense training, race etc.)
High Caloric density glucose polymer fluid would be useful again
Protein expedite glycogen replacement and helps support increased protein synthesis
>600g carb/day for following 2 days to optimize repletion of muscle/liver glycogen.