Nutrition Tips to Get the Most from Your Ride
Deep down we’re all competitive, whether it’s pushing ourselves for better times or battling our mates for that lamp post victory. You most likely invest considerable time and money ensuring your bike and gear offer the latest technological advantages, but what about the engine that fuels that machine - how much time do you spend making sure you’re properly fuelled and your body is matching the performance of the bike it’s on? An aero helmet is said to save anywhere from 30-60 secs over a 40 km distance, but did you know that new studies have shown the right nutrition can save 2.5 mins over the same distance? You might be surprised by the difference giving your body the right fuel can make. Here’s a few nutrition tips that may just earn you those KOM’s you’ve been chasing, and help speed up your post-ride recovery.
It sounds obvious, but staying hydrated is the foundation of better performance. A recent study of professional athletes found that up to 50% were dehydrated even before exercise! On average, you lose around a litre of fluid every hour of exercise and up to 2.4 L in extreme heat and humidity.6 Losing as much as 2-7% of body mass through sweat is quite common in longer events and consistently reduces performance across all areas of endurance.6 Keep the liquids up with at least a bidon per hour, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty.
Sweat isn’t just water, it’s a mix of critical minerals such as sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium and magnesium that are lost as they saturate the inside your helmet - so make sure you’re replacing these lost electrolytes with a scientifically formulated electrolyte formula.
The right electrolyte mix can make you faster!
A clinical trial of well-trained cyclists showed a rehydration formula containing sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium, along with fructose and maltodextrin saved 2.5 mins over a 40 km ride.1
Cyclists training regularly are often at risk of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium’s vital for proper muscle function, cellular energy production,1 helps prevent muscle cramps and improves endurance performance.1,2 A high-quality rehydration formula containing magnesium is invaluable on longer rides, or if you suffer from cramps. To avoid the risk of gastrointestinal side effects look for a high-absorption magnesium such as a magnesium diglycinate.
To keep your energy levels up for the whole ride, you should generally aim to refuel with approx. 60 g carbohydrates/hour, depending on the intensity. And whilst that sneaky donut may be delicious, it’s not going to get the best out of your body for the return leg home! Single sugars like glucose deliver a rapid blood sugar spike, while fructose has a slow-release effect. Look for a combination of the two to get the best of both worlds, rapid and sustained energy.
Optimise your carb absorption by up to 50%
Dual carb sources optimise carb absorption, improving absorption by up to 50%. They also extend energy release to avoid a spike/crash in energy levels.4
On 2-3 hour plus rides, your body increasingly breaks down muscle tissue in its search for energy, so adding protein becomes imperative to protect against muscle loss. A combination of protein and carbohydrates has been found to improve endurance performance.3 A nutrient-dense shake is going to be a great option while on the bike, as it’s rapidly absorbed to get to your muscles fast.
To continually improve your performance, the right recovery strategy is critical. Protein and carbohydrates will help replenish glycogen stores and accelerate muscle repair.3 A rapidly absorbed, nutrient-dense mix of high-quality protein and carbs within 20 mins of getting off the bike will kick-start recovery. If muscle aches are an issue for you, try a highly absorbablemagnesium supplement. And don’t underestimate the importance of sleep, which is when your body does most of its repair work. If you’re a serious cyclist, you have to make sure every performance avenue is covered, and nutrition is a critical element to get right if you want to tap into your potential. Enhance your performance by fuelling the most important component on your bike - YOU.
References available on request.