The right nutrition can make all the difference

Protein shakes are great just after a ride

Nutrition for cyclists is a pretty big topic. Firstly, there’s general nutrition that encompasses what you should eat and when in your daily life. Then there’s specific pre-event and post-event requirements and there’s even during the event. I wouldn’t even attempt to cover everything in one brief blog post.

I do find the topic pretty interesting and it’s something all cyclists who are serious about their pursuit should focus on more. When I attended the Camp de Femme in Bathurst a couple of weeks ago we were treated to an interesting presentation by one of our coaches Melanie Reiter.

Mel is not a nutritionist but has learnt a lot about how to eat correctly from her own research and trial and error as an athlete.

The key things I took from her presentation included:

Carbohydrates

  • These are important before, during and after exercise to delay fatigue and improve performance
  • After exercise carbohydrates replenish glycogen stores in preparation for your next workout
  • Simple carbohydrates will replace glycogen stores and will not be stored as fat.

Protein

  • After a ride you should aim to have protein within 15 minutes for muscle repair. This could be in the form of a protein drink, banana, nuts, eggs, peanut butter or chocolate milk
  • Protein is essential to build and maintain muscle mass
  • A lack of protein in the diet will cause muscle wasting, chronic fatigue and slow recovery
  • Protein assists in producing hormones which regulate metabolic rate.

Fats

  • Good fats help absorb essential anti-oxidants, vitamins (A, D, E & K) and beta carotene
  • Fats are important for producing hormones (estrogen & testosterone) and build nerve tissue
  • Cyclists are very efficient at using fat stores, so replenishing them is essential for performance and recovery.

Caffeine

  • Can benefit endurance athletes
  • Increases fatty acids in the blood which can be utilised to spare muscle glycogen
  • Stimulates the central nervous system, decreasing the perception of fatigue
  • May enhance muscle contractions.

Hydration

  • You should aim to drink 750 ml per hour during a ride
  • Have one bottle of water and one of electrolyte drink
  • Hydrate 3 or 4 days before a big event.

I’d love to hear from others about what they’ve learnt works for them for riding.

2 comments

  1. I’m dubious about the whole “you must drink 750 ml per hour during a ride”. If I drank that much, I’d be constantly stopping to pee which would be very distracting and totally interrupt my rides. Obviously when it’s hot I drink more but it’s when my body gives me the nudge to have a drink. Some days I drink loads, other days I drink a little.

    I also don’t take a bottle of electrolyte with me either because I hate the taste of it, especially when it warms up. I would rather slug down a full bottle when I get home that’s mixed with cold water from the fridge. Then it’s a big cup of milo for the protein and I’m sloshing about for the rest of the day.

    It’s really a case of establishing what works for you. I only use electrolyte drinks because if I don’t, I end up with a splitting headache that lasts days after a big ride. And I crave salt like a fiend – which suggests I’m losing a lot of sodium. One bottle of electrolyte and it’s all good.

  2. One word – Chocolate!
    ok – and maybe a bit of water. I reckon 750ml every 2 hours (maybe a little more on really hot days)

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