So you’ve got the brand new bike, you’re kitted out head-to-toe in the latest cycling clothing and you’re about to set off on your first long ride. Maybe your fitness isn’t too bad, you play a bit of football once a week and it hasn’t been that long since you last joined a gym, so you think your strength must be reasonably okay. You’re feeling pretty good about your New Year’s resolution; to get fit, to stay healthy, and to cycle. You do your pre-ride ritual of pretending to be Bradley Wiggins in the mirror, strap on your helmet and get out the door. But soon into your morning ride, you begin to feel sluggish after your big fry-up, then half way through you realise your energy has actually dropped off and you feel ravenous. This is harder than you thought.
At ProBikeKit , we’ve got a few tips to help you get on top of your nutrition in 2014, and to stay fresh on the bike for longer. Follow these tips, and you won’t just look like Bradley Wiggins; you feel like him!
Tip 1: Fuel
When you get on the bike, you need to be fuelled sufficiently or you won’t be able to perform; it’s as simple as that. We’ve already covered the basics of carb loading in an earlier post, and if you’ve read this, you’ll know that spending 2-3 days upping your carbohydrate intake before an endurance ride or race can be very beneficial. Double up on pasta, breads, potatoes and quality whole grains in the days before your ride in order to carb load properly, but be sure to still hit your other nutritional daily intakes; there’s no point binging on carbs while protein and healthy fats take a back seat. You’re carb loading to burn it off, no other reason. So be sure to give your body the nutrients it needs whilst loading up.
When you wake up on Saturday morning after a couple of days eating carbs, you will probably be a few pounds heavier and a little bit ‘puffed up’, but worry not; you’ll feel full of energy and ready to go!
Top Tip: on the morning of the ride eat a breakfast such as oats with milk and a banana, but keep the portion small, as you’ll have plenty of chance to re-fuel on the ride. Be sure to give it time to digest as well, there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re going to be sick whilst going 25 mph on a busy road!
Tip 2: Energy
On the bike, be sure to keep a steady supply of carbohydrate gels in your system. Endurance athletes recommend about 30-60 grams every hour, this has led to products such as SiS’s Isotonic Gel range to be developed, as they are designed for easy quick consumption on the bike. These gels contain carbohydrates, which you’ll need for energy, each gel will contain approximately 25-50 grams of carbohydrates, so downing 2-3 of these per hour should see you fully fuelled for your ride. Powerbar and High5 are also reputable brands with popular energy gel products available.
Imagine if you had to get 30-60 grams of carbs an hour from real food over a three hour ride, you’ve be bloated, tired and it’d be time consuming to actually eat it. Don’t bother packing the bacon sandwich, stick a few gels or energy bars in your jersey instead.
Tip 3: Hydration
Hydration is key for performance in any sport situation, without the right intake of water, we’re left faint, disorientated and our mental and physical efficiency suffers. Be sure to take two full water bottles with you on your ride, pack them into your cages, and you’ll be satisfied all the way through.
As with food fuelling though, preparation is crucial, being sure to drink plenty of water in the week before a ride, small and steady increments work best. Try drinking a small 300ml glass of water every hour, after 1 – 2 weeks of this you should see your mental and physical wellbeing increase, and you can probably drink this every 90 minutes from then on. This is a tip you can use in the long term and in your everyday life, the majority of us are guilty of not drinking enough water and we don’t realise the difference until we start taking in more!
At ProBikeKit, we have a wide range of electrolyte tablets, which are designed to deliver you the essential minerals: sodium, potassium and magnesium. These don’t just hydrate you when mixed with water, but they help determine how and where you store your water, helping you to efficiently retain the right amount for optimum performance. When we sweat or lose water, we also lose these electrolytes, which we need for a fully functioning and well hydrated body. With our range of hydration products, you should never be dangerously dehydrated; popular tablet brands include Nuun and High5.
Tip 4: Recovery
So you survived your ride, of course you did, you followed our tips! Now with you bike back at home, you’re probably flat out on your living room floor. Brilliant; that’s the sign of a good ride! Now it’s time to replace all the lost nutrients and start the recovery process for your next outing.
Up to now our nutrition has been focussed on fuelling with carbs for energy, but now we will need to focus on protein as well. Protein is going to help repair your damaged muscles, which enter a ‘catabolic’ state during exercise (they break down), what we want to do now is encourage an ‘anabolic’ state (build them backup).
If you followed these tips, and your ride was about 3 hours, then that means you last took in protein in the form of milk with your breakfast about three hours ago, which isn’t too bad, but by now your body could use a bit more. ‘4:1’ recovery drinks are named so because they are 4 parts carbs to 1 part protein, the perfect ratio for sports recovery.
These shakes will usually have around 15-20 grams of protein in, and come in at around 200-250 calories, this means that they serve as a ‘quick-fix’ for your body and will give you a full nutritional profile to tide you over until your next meal an hour later. Having a shake like this immediately after your ride, means that your body can be recovering while you get changed, washed and soak in the bath, rather than cooking a meal which takes time and therefore misses the ‘window’ for recovery. After your carb and protein heavy meal later, you should feel a little worn out, but your body will be recovering just fine, ready for next week!