Day in and day out, it is common to hear folks taking about diet/nutrition. More times than not, we are talking about the negative side of our daily diets. It is hard to be consistent and eat foods that are good for our body’s and life. It takes time, discipline, and the willingness to have willpower to not eat the wrong foods.
Fueling your body correctly for cycling is very important! We would like to share some tips for your pre-ride, during-ride, and post-ride nutrition needs. We will break this down into two different sections.
1.Eating right to ride longer and stronger.
2.Eating as you ride to sustain energy.
Eat Right To Ride Longer And Stronger
Exercise and heavy eating don’t mix, but you need calories to fuel your workouts because not eating can cause you to quickly deplete your energy reserves. Plus, some athletes get an upset stomach exercising on an empty tank. An energy drink specifically formulated for pre-workout can provide easily digested liquid calories designed to enhance endurance. Look for an all-purpose supplement that supplies healthy complex carbohydrates and protein with low sugar and fat. You may find that energy bars, fruit and cereal make good pre-workout meals, too.
Energy Replenishment During Workouts and Events
Your body can only store a one- to two-hour supply of glycogen (muscle fuel). Once this is depleted, if you keep riding, you risk bonking (also known as hitting the wall). So, it’s important to carry food or stop for snacks while riding.
What you eat and drink depends on what works for you. Energy drinks are easily consumed and provide fuel in the form of steady complex carbohydrates, as well as replenishing electrolytes and minerals lost through sweating. But, you’ll also want edibles. Energy bars require more effort to eat than drinks or gels and are best for long, low-intensity training rides. Energy gels (similar in form and taste to cake frosting) have become very popular the last few years. These are easy to eat and absorb and provide concentrated carbohydrates that deliver immediate energy during intense efforts. Some varieties include vitamins, amino acids, caffeine and electrolytes. Whatever you eat, be sure to drink plenty of water, which helps your body more quickly absorb the essential ingredients in energy foods.
Eating to Recover
There’s a one-hour window of opportunity immediately after workouts when the muscles absorb the most nutrients and when glycogen, an energy reserve in your muscles, is replaced most efficiently. You don’t have to eat a big meal, but you should eat something soon after training to recovery quickly and store energy for your next ride. Lots of people get good results with a small, high-protein-and-carbohydrate shake. But other carbo-rich foods work well, too, such as a vegetarian burrito. Experiment to see what works best for you.
Eat As You Ride To Sustain Energy
The heavier you are and the harder you exercise, the more calories you burn. The body can store roughly an hour-and-a-half to two-hours worth of glycogen (muscle fuel). That’s all. So, if you’re riding longer, you need to carry (or stop to purchase) food and consume enough calories to keep from developing a glycogen deficit.
Beat The Bonk
This glycogen deficit causes a miserable condition that’s known as the bonk or hitting the wall, which feels like you’ve run out of gas. Your legs feel incredibly weak and small hills become Mt. Everest. You may experience a pins-and-needles feeling in your arms and light-headedness, even nausea. If you stop for a while, you may get back on the bike and feel fine, only to have the bonk return in just a few minutes. You can even become disoriented and dizzy, which can lead to a crash.
Food To Go
Jersey pockets are designed to carry the energy bars, fig bars, fruit or energy gels you need to prevent the bonk. Stashed like this, the grub is easily reached while riding, too. Some people use electrical tape to stick packets of energy gel to their top tube or stem for even easier access (good for racing). For high-intensity events or rides, energy gels and drinks work better than energy bars. They can be swallowed in seconds (chewing an energy bar can interfere with breathing) and the ingredients enter your system almost as quickly.
Be sure to experiment in training or on rides that are not as important as your big event to ensure that your food and drink choices are right for you. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for others. And, twenty miles into a century is no time to find out that the energy drink your training partner recommended upsets your stomach.
All these tips will help enchance your cycling experience. Choose which items work best for you. Try different items untill you feel happy with the desired results. Happy New Year, be healthy, and go ride!