Cycling Nutrition Guide
Proper everyday nutrition ensures you are fueled for training and recover sufficiently so you can get back out there again tomorrow. The sheer volume of training undertaken by committed cyclists calls for a high-energy diet. The diet should contain sufficient carbohydrates to fuel working muscles, protein to promote training adaptations, and high quality fats to provide the essential fatty acids necessary for overall health while maintaining adequate hydration.
A healthy daily diet ensures that you’re well fueled for both training and recovery.
BEFORE THE EVENT
Events are completed over various distances and while each have different nutritional requirements, the main principles remain the same.
No matter how long your race is, you should always eat high carbohydrate foods 2 to 4 hours before exercise to ensure optimal glycogen stores, which is the body’s primary energy source. These pre-race food choices should be low in protein, fiber, and fat to minimize the risk of gastro-intestinal discomfort.
There’s plenty of scientific research about what you should eat and drink on race-day. However, every athlete is different and what works for one may not work for another. Therefore, your race-day nutrition should be tailored to what works for you. Be sure to experiment with new products/regimens during training before attempting to implement any major changes to your nutrition routine during an important event.
The longer the event, the more crucial your race-day nutrition becomes. The energy you need to fuel your race comes predominately from the carbohydrates that you store and the carbohydrates that you take on board during exercise. Fatigue during prolonged exercise is often associated with the depletion of these stores.
The nutritional challenge after an event is to rehydrate and replenish carbohydrate stores and to rebuild and repair muscle tissue by consuming protein.
After exercise, you should drink 1.5 liters of fluid for each kg of body weight lost. So if you lose 2 kg of body weight, then you should drink 3 liters of fluid to ensure rehydration. Fluid should be consumed in small amounts for 2-3 hours until the figure is reached. Consuming foods and drinks containing sodium will help stimulate your thirst and promote fluid retention allowing for a speedier return to fluid balance.
Eating protein after exercise promotes training adaptations, so aim for 15-20g of a high quality protein.