It’s no big secret that nutrition plays a massive part in training and recovery. Exercise at any level can be rendered useless without a good nutrition plan. Whether you ride to lose weight, get fitter or just to enjoy yourself, nutrition will play a large part. With winter being the most important part of the season for most people, maximizing fitness to get the best possible results the following year. It can make the difference between winning & losing a race, or just not making it to the next level.
When we talk about a good nutrition programme, we might not mean avoiding cake or coffee at the cafe, but making sure you’re giving yourself the right nutrients through the day. Timings also play a big part in this procedure.
Before your session:
In any sport, setting yourself up to train is very important. In endurance sports we need to make sure that we’ve got enough nutrition in at the start of the session so that our body doesn’t fall short of energy. Starting with a good carbohydrate-based meal for breakfast will set you up nicely. The recommended time to stop eating is 2 hours before a big session or race to allow the food to settle. If you have to be up early, a big feed the night before and a light breakfast should do the trick. But fasting isn’t good for anybody.
When you fast your body goes into starvation mode and begins to store food as fat. A fasted ride twice a week, of up to 45 minutes can be a fantastic way to help maintain weight. But much more will begin to have a detrimental effect on your body. You don’t want to start breaking down the muscles you’re trying to build.
Fuel on the Go:
People often spend hours planning their routes, gear choices & intensity levels. But can easily overlook nutrition. Nutrition should be carefully planned like everything else in the ride. Plan what you’re going to take with you, when you’re going to take it and make sure you have a little extra just in case. Nutrition includes everything you’re going to consume on the ride, including hydration! Running out of energy, or bonking, miles from the end, in a cold, damp state can be very dangerous.
Simulating race nutrition at this stage of the year makes it second nature when the season comes around, which can really help. Teaching your body to digest & burn the right amount of carbs hourly can make a massive difference next year.
There are an endless list of foods you can use on the go. From bananas, gels & flapjacks to pork pies & peanut butter sandwiches.
If the majority of your training is based indoors, you might not need to consume as much energy. This is majorly because sessions indoors tend to be shorter, unless you’re Lionel Sanders. So anything under 90 minutes (which will be the majority of indoor sessions), won’t need to be accompanied by food. But recovery is just as important after the session, as is hydration.
When we train indoors it’s usually a much warmer environment so hydration becomes key. This is similar to racing in warm conditions, the body will sweat more to cool itself, so liquids & electrolytes will need to be replaced. This will help you avoid cramping in a long race, many people struggle to consume the right amount of fluids.]
It is suggested that you have a 20 minute anabolic window in which to get your recovery in. This starts from the moment you finish the race and may be in the form of a supplement. Protein shakes/bars are great in this situation to get you through to your next meal.
Often a 2:1 Carbs:Protein ratio is viewed as the most efficient recovery between sessions. Your body will struggle to process any more than 30g of protein in an hour. As well as bars or shakes, eggs on toast, chicken/tuna or milk can also be used in this window. There are arguments against using cheese as your main source of protein as it’s harder for the body to digest, but it’s certainly better than nothing.
Learning to get a good protein snack in as soon as possible after the session will make a big difference to your bodies recovery and therefore performance.