For both types of riders, road cycling can be a punishing sport that will drain you of fuel and fluids. If you enter a ride or race inadequately hydrated and fueled, or if you don't keep up with your fluid and fuel needs while on the bike, dehydration takes over, your quads feel dead, and its all you can do to hang on until the finish.
But if you've got a solid hydration and fueling strategy that you've practiced during training and implemented before and during this ride, you can perform on that century ride. And if you're a pro, you will push the peloton's pace,
The bottom line is that when attention to nutrition and hydration is an integral component of your training and racing or riding strategy, you give yourself the chances to be your very best on the bike no matter what the day has in store for you.
The Physical Challenge
As a road cyclists, at a minimum you need strength and endurance to finish strong on long rides. If you ride among the elite, you also need anaerobic capacity for breakaways, steep mountain grades and all out sprinting to the finish. You may be involved in team and individual event stage races on a single day or over several days. Time trials and criteriums are probably also a part of your repertoire. Race distances acan be from a few short miles to stages covering 150 miles or more. Elite cyclists may train once or more daily and rack up to 2-500 miles a week. Serious recreational riders commonly log 180 miles in a week. Weight training may also be a regular part of the workout mix as well for both pros and recreational riders. With these types of physical demands, sweat losses can be enormous and muscle fuel stares can be seriously depleted on a daily basis. Recovery between workouts, training rides, and races is crucial, and re-hydrating and refueling during long hours on the bike is essential to delaying fatigue and extending endurance.
The fact is that cycling long distances at a strenuous pace puts a huge strain on your body. Your leg muscles rapidly burn through fuel stores while generating loads of internal body heat. Add heat or humidity to the mix, and the physical and metabolic toll rises even higher. To achieve your best on the bike under these challenging circumstances, you have to stay hydrated and fueled for as long as you can. Inadequate attention to either of those factors will undermine your performance. Fortunately, you can extend your endurance and keep fatigue at bay by having a well-conceived and practiced performance sports nutrition plan.
Key Principles of Sports Nutrition
The 3 most important principles of a sports nutrition strategy for road cycling are to hydrate, to provide fuel for you muscles, and to promote optimal recover after training or competing. Applying these principles correctly can help you maximize the gains from all your training and help ensure that you perform at your best on the bike during hard rides or competition.
Dehydration is the single largest contributor to fatigue when training or racing. contracting leg muscles produce the force necessary to pedal and propel the bike forward. Those muscles also produce loads of internal heat in the process. This heat must be dissipated quickly to avoid overheating. Sweating is a crucial mechanism for thermoregulation, or ridding your body of heat, but it causes you to lose the very same fluids and the electrolyte sodium you need to remain hydrated. Dehydration impacts your cycling performance when you lose just 2% of your body weight due to fluid loss equates to just 3 lbs. Road cycling, especially in the Florida heat and humidity, can easily result in fluid losses exceeding this 2% threshold. And when you're dehydrated, your heart has to work harder and your internal body temperature is elevated. this makes every pedal rotation that much more difficult. A steep incline feels even steeper and a long flat seems like it will never end. Dehydration can cause you to have to cut your training short or could make you end your race sooner than you planned.
Dehydration also poses serious adverse health consequences. To avoid dehydration, you need to replace the fluids and sodium you lose from sweating. You might think that thirst will drive you to consume enough fluids to meet your dehydration needs, but the fact is that thirst during exercise donesn't kick in until well after you are dehydrated and already suffering. Fortunately, dehydration can be avoided by adhering to a disciplined hydration plan before, during, and after training or races.
Road cyclists do most of their training on the bike. Workouts vary, but the mileage log is likely to be quite high. Weight training may also be part of the equation. Your primary muscle fuels when training and racing are a combination of fat and carbohydrates. Cyclists are generally lean, but even the leanest of the bunch have plenty of fat reserves tucked away. Carbohydrate fuel stores are a different matter entirely. At best, you probably have only about 2,000 calories of carbohydrate fuel on reserve. These carbs are present in your body in two forms: Glucose which circulates in your bloodstream, and the bundles of glucose called Glycogen, which are stored in your liver and muscles. A single long-stage race or training ride can literally wipe out your carb fuel reserves. And if you don't fully deplete your stores, workouts or competitions on successive days can finish the job. If you're training or riding regularly, it's critical to promptly replenish the glycogen stores after each exercise session. When these fuel stores run dry during exercise, your body turns to liver glycogen reserves to maintain your blood glucose level. but once liver glycogen store are tapped out, your blood sugar level drops, fatigue sets in, and you run out of fuel. You're forced to drastically slow down your pace or even stop. So it's critical that you start your training and racing with your carb reserves fully replenished. And to extend endurance and delay the onset of fatigue, it's important to refuel with carbs during long rides.
Training and racing not only deplete your glycogen reserves, they cause damage to muscle fibers, which require repair. If you are weight training, your muscle tissue is being stimulated to increase as an adaptation to the increased workload. Finally, you also lose fluids and the key electrolyte sodium due to sweating during exercise. Recover is the process of reloading depleted carb fuel stores, repairing and building new muscle tissue, and re-hydrating after workouts or competitions. It's during the recovery process that you achieve the gains from your training and get ready for your next workout or race. Your body is ready to begin recovery as soon as you finish the workout or ride, but the process doesn't begin in earnest until you provide the key nutritional components your body needs.
1. BE WEIGHT SMART
Many elite cyclists are lean, muscular, and vigilant about body weight and calorie intake. A low body-fat level allows more power to be generated for every lb of body weight you’re carrying. This is especially critical on hill climbs but has much less of an effect when riding on flats or when time-trialing or sprinting. Heavy training usually takes care of body fat levels. But when coming back after a layoff, there may be a need to trim excess body fat gained. Do this by trimming excess calories from fat, alcohol, and sweets. Maintain your intake of nutrient-loaded carbohydrate sources such as enriched or whole grain breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products, in order to get the carbohydrate fuel you need for daily training. You can avoid the need to trim body fat in the early season by cutting back on calories during the off-season. Heavy caloric loads are for heavy training. If you take a break or cut back on training and racing, cut back on calories as well.
Desire for lower body fat might lead cyclists to restrict calorie intake, but the time for this is not during periods of high-intensity, long duration training. Make weight loss a goal for the off-season or early season, before training gets intense. When you’re working long and hard, you need all your calories in order to stay healthy and to maximize the gains from your training. Striving to lose weight during periods of intense training can result in loss of muscle mass, slower recovery, and an increased chance of illness and injury. In addition, female cyclists who tend to be more prone to inadequate calorie intake can suffer hormonal imbalances, leading to menstrual dysfunction and serious loss of bone mass and strength.
If you are an elite athlete in the throes of heavy training or daily stage races, getting enough calories and carbohydrates on a daily basis might be a formidable challenge. Frequent meals and snacks, and eating while on the bike, are often necessary to get the necessary amounts of calories and carbohydrates. Finally, if you’re a recreational cyclist, be sure to balance your intake of gels, bars, and sports drinks with your carbohydrate and calorie needs so that you achieve and maintain a desirable weight.
2. START YOUR RIDES FULLY HYDRATED
If you go into your training sessions fully hydrated, you’ll be able to train harder and realize better gains. The same goes for races themselves: You’ll be better able to sustain your race pace and achieve your performance goals.
Make up for any fluid deficits by consuming 14–20 fl oz (400–600 ml) of water or sports drink 2–3 hours before your race or workout. Keep hydrating as needed prior to a training session or as you’re warming up before a race: Drink at least another 8 fl oz (240 ml), or about 8 gulps, especially if conditions are hot or humid.
You can monitor your hydration status before exercise by checking the color of your urine. A light-yellow color is consistent with adequate hydration. If your urine is darker, more like the color of apple juice, that’s typically a sign that more fluids are needed before you start your workout.
3. START YOUR RIDES FULLY FUELED
As a road cyclist, your glycogen stores are usually being depleted with each training ride or race. This means that you must fully replenish your carbohydrate fuel stores on a daily basis. If you don’t, you’ll rapidly run out of carbohydrate fuel, and workouts and performances will suffer noticeably.
To top off muscle glycogen fuel stores before training or racing, consume a pre-exercise meal somewhere between 2–4 hours before getting on the bike. The goal is to start exercise fully fueled and hydrated, but also feeling comfortable. Choose familiar carbohydrate based foods and beverages and avoid slow-to-digest fatty and high-fiber foods prior to riding. Carbohydrate-based foods include pasta, rice, bread, cereal, fruit, and sweetened dairy products such as flavored yogurts and milks. Experiment during training in order to find the right foods and timing that work best for you.
If you get hungry before a race, make sure you have carbohydrate based snacks on hand, such as a PowerBar® Performance Energy bar,
PowerBar® Energy Gels, PowerBar® Energy Blasts gel filled chews, or PowerBar® Energy Bites, and consume your snack along with fluids.
The ideal time for a snack is about an hour before riding; aim for about 40–60 grams of carbs.
If you get pre race jitters and typically don’t feel like eating, or you have a tendency to experience gastrointestinal distress when riding, don’t skip eating entirely. Instead, try liquid carb sources in place of solids for your pre race meal. A fruit smoothie or a meal replacement drink is a good carbohydrate-based alternative.
Even though the following suggestions might vary in nutritional content, the general idea is to eat a larger volume of food when you have more time before exercise, and less volume when you have less time. Remember this helpful saying: “The more time the more food, the less time the less food.” Practice with the same food options during training so you have your best preride meal in place before all your competitions.
Finally, don’t forget to eat before early-morning workouts. If time is running short, try a fruit smoothie, a meal replacement drink, a PowerBar Performance Energy bar, a PowerBar Energy Gel, PowerBar Energy Blasts gel filled chews, or PowerBar Energy Bites combined with water.
|IDEAS FOR HIGH-CARBOHYDRATE MEALS BEFORE RIDING
(2-4 hours before exercise)
|Cold or hot cereal with fruit or fruit juice and low-fat or nonfat milk|
|French toast or pancakes with maple or fruit syrup|
|Toast with jam or honey, and low-fat yogurt|
|Breakfast burrito (scrambled eggs, salsa, and low-fat cheese in a flour tortilla) and fruit juice|
|Bagel or English muffin, with jelly and/or peanut butter, banana, and fruit juice|
|Pasta or cheese ravioli with low-fat, tomato-based sauce, French bread or low-fat bread sticks, streamed vegetables, low-fat/nonfat milk, pudding snack and canned fruit|
|Grilled chicken sandwich with frozen low-fat yogurt, and baked potato with low-fat sour cream or salsa|
|Turkey sub sandwich with tomato, lettuce, and mustard, baked chips, fruit juice, and low-fat frozen yogurt|
|Thick-crust cheese pizza, low-fat gelato, and canned peaches|
|Baked or grilled lean beef, chicken, turkey or fish, steamed rice, dinner roll, cooked green beans, low-fat frozen yogurt, and fruit juice|
|IDEAS FOR HIGH-CARBOHYDRATE SNACKS BEFORE RIDING
(30-60 minutes before exercise)
|Fruit smoothie made with mango/banana/berries and low-fat or nonfat milk or yogurt|
|Dried fruit and pretzels|
|fresh fruit or 100% juice|
|Low-fat or nonfat yogurt, or fat-free frozen yogurt, gelato, or sorbet|
|Endurance sports drink|
|Performance Energy bar|
|Fruit Smoothie Energy bar|
|Energy blasts gel filled chews|
4. FUELING DURING A RIDE
Because you miss regular meals during long training rides and stages, you increase the challenge and importance of meeting hydration and fueling needs. During stage races, elite riders often have support vehicles and domestics to supply food and fluids. But if you compete at a recreational level, you’re probably hauling your own food and fluids.
Either way, plan ahead and bring portable foods for refueling on your bike. Keep in mind that both solids and liquids are possible on the bike. Just be sure to chew solid foods thoroughly to reduce your risk of choking.
|IDEAS FOR PORTABLE SNACKS DURING RIDING|
|Dried fruit and nut mix|
|Small peanut-butter and jelly sandwich|
|Energy Sports drink|
|Performance Energy bar|
|Fruit Smoothie Energy bar|
|Energy Blast filled bars|
Glycogen depletion of the quads leads to heavy legs, and low blood sugar leads to fatigue. Avoid both by initiating the refueling and re-hydrating process early in a ride or race; don’t wait for your glycogen stores to run dry or your blood sugar to drop. You should consume 30–60 grams of carbs per hour for exercise lasting 1–2 hours, or 45–90 grams of carbs per hour for exercise lasting more than 2 hours.
If you are using an energy gel to refuel, make sure to select one that provides sodium along with carbohydrates, such as PowerBar Energy Gel. These gels are designed to be consumed every 20–45 minutes during exercise along with fluids, and they provide the carbohydrates and sodium of a sports drink.
Sports nutrition products such as the PowerBar Performance Energy bar, PowerBar Energy Blasts gel filled chews, and PowerBar Energy Bites can also be used on the bike to increase the hourly intake of carbs during long rides. In cycling, convenience is key, as most foods get crushed in a jersey pocket. So bars, gels, and chews work especially well.
5. REHYDRATING DURING A RIDE
To stay hydrated on the bike, it is the recommendation of the American College of Sports Medicine that athletes consume fluids at a rate that closely matches their sweat rate. This generally requires something on the order of 13–26 fl oz (400–800 ml) of fluid for every hour of exercise, preferably in smaller amounts taken frequently, such as 3–7 fl oz (100–200 ml) every 15 minutes.
However, fluid needs can vary considerably based on factors such as body size, pace, and weather conditions. Therefore, calculate your sweat rate for the various conditions in which you train and race. Determining your sweat rate is really quite simple. For a step-by-step guide to calculating your sweat rate, and to obtain a personalized plan to meet your unique hydration needs, use the PowerBar® Sweat Rate Calculator at www.powerbar.com/src
Water is usually fine for short rides (less than an hour) in cooler weather. However, for long rides and any time you’re riding in the heat and humidity, a sports drink that provides carbohydrates, fluids, and sodium, such as Ironman PERFoRM™ sports drink, is the best option. First, a sports drink provides carbohydrates to help sustain your blood glucose level during exercise. Second, athletes typically consume more fluids when their hydration beverage is flavored, as is the case with a sports drink. Third, the sodium and carbs in a sports drink cause the fluid in the beverage to be absorbed more quickly. The sodium also helps maintain your drive to continue drinking fluids when riding, which is crucial to meeting your fluid needs. Finally, the sodium also helps you retain the fluid that you’ve consumed. In hot weather, fluid needs typically outstrip carbohydrate needs, and you might require additional fluid. In these conditions, a combination of a sports drink and plain water is used for re-hydration.
6. PRACTICE YOUR REGIMEN DURING TRAINING
There’s no question that starting a training ride or race fueled and hydrated, and re-hydrating and refueling during the ride, is critical to a successful sports nutrition strategy. But take the opportunity to experiment with the types and timing of foods and beverages during training. Make small adjustments to your regimen as needed, and trial those as well. The objective is to have a hydration and fueling regimen on race day that you know works for you, given the conditions in which you’re riding.
7. ACTIVELY PROMOTE RAPID RECOVERY WHEN YOU NEED IT
As soon as you finish a ride, make recovery your first priority, especially if you’re jumping back on the bike within 24 hours. The recovery stage is where you make the gains from your hard work and where you prepare for your next ride. Your body is ready to start the recovery process just as soon as you get off the bike, but you need to provide the nutritional components, including carbohydrates to restore depleted glycogen stores, protein to repair and build muscle tissue, and fluids and sodium to effectively rehydrate.
To speed the reloading of your depleted muscle glycogen fuel stores, consume about 0.5 grams of carbohydrates per lb (1.1 grams per kg) of body weight within 30 minutes of finishing a ride. You can repeat this again within 2 hours, or transition to your usual carbohydrate based snacks and meals. For a 150-lb (68-kg) cyclist, that equates to about 75 grams of carbohydrates immediately after riding and then again 2 hours later. You can also rapidly refuel by consuming smaller amounts of carbohydrates more frequently if that leaves you feeling more comfortable. Your total carbohydrate intake for the day will depend on your level of training.
|Intensity Level of Training
||Daily Carbs Needed||Example for 150-lb (680-kg) athlete|
|Low Intensity||2.3 - 3.2 grams per lb body weight (5-7 grams per kg)||345 - 480 grams of carbs daily|
|Moderate to Heavy||3.2 - 4.5 grams per lb body weight (7-10 grams per kg)||480 - 675 grams of carbs daily|
|Extremely Heavy||4.5 - 5.5 grams per lb body weight (10-12 grams per kg)||675 - 825 grams of carbs daily|
Muscle tissue repair and building is another important facet of recovery. Muscle tissue is made up of protein, and protein is made up of building blocks known as amino acids. When you consume protein foods, the protein is digested and broken down into its component amino acids. These amino acids are then absorbed and repackaged into the proteins your body needs, including those required to repair and build muscle tissue. Although protein requirements vary between individuals, try to consume a minimum of 15–25 grams of protein within an hour after exercise in order to maximize the muscle rebuilding and repair process.
Fluids and Sodium
Road cycling can lead to heavy fluid and sodium losses due to sweating. Weigh yourself before and after riding in order to gauge your net loss of fluids. Replace this fluid by gradually drinking about 23 fl oz of a sports drink, recovery beverage, or water for every lb (1,500 ml per kg) of weight lost. Consume sodium sources along with your fluids. Re-hydration will be more effective when sodium is included with the fluid and food you consume as you recover. If your loss of fluids consistently exceeds 2% of your body weight when riding, try to increase your fluid intake a bit to avoid dehydration.
Ironman RESToRE™ sports drink mix is a fast and convenient option for jump-starting the recovery process. Just pour two scoops into your sports bottle, add 16 fl oz of water, and shake. In seconds, you’ll have the carbs, protein, sodium, and fluids to start reloading, repairing, and re-hydrating. So as soon as you cross that finish line, drink a thirst-quenching serving of Ironman RESToRE sports drink and get on the road to rapid recovery.
The following recovery options include at least 10 grams of protein and a moderate amount of carbohydrates to promote recovery.
|2 oz pretzels dipped in 2 tbsp peanut butter||14 grams|
|Turkey sandwich with 2 oz turkey||20 grams|
|2 rice cakes with 2 oz low-fat cheese sticks||16 grams|
|2 oz string cheese with 1 apple||14 grams|
|1 cup low-fat yogurt||11 grams|
|Low-fat chocolate milk - 10 fl oz (300 ml)||10 grams|
|Recovery Bar||12 grams|
|ProtienPlus Bites - 1 pouch||20 grams|
|ProtienPlus Protien bar||23 grams|
|ProtienPlus 30g protien bar||30 grams|
8. KNOW YOUR EXTRA ENERGY OPTIONS
If you’re going to be in a race that will require every last gram of muscle glycogen and more, carbohydrate loading might be right for you. Carbohydrate loading is a technique where you taper your training one or more days before a race, while increasing your intake of carbs. Done correctly, the net result is a significant boost in your stores of muscle glycogen. That can translate to a performance benefit in long races. For more on carbohydrate loading and to learn how to load effectively, search Carbohydrate Loading at www.powerbar.com.
For typical endurance exercise of a couple of hours or less, the consensus recommendation for refueling with carbs is to consume 30–60 grams per hour of exercise. If your riding challenge exceeds the 2-hour threshold and your pace is fast, you might benefit from a faster delivery of carbohydrate fuel to your working muscles. But just any carbs won’t do the trick. Research has shown that consumption of a 2:1 ratio of glucose to fructose during extended endurance exercise delivers more energy to your muscles; for cyclists, a study showed an 8% improvement in time trial
performance (the study compared a drink containing glucose alone to one with a 2:1 glucose-to-fructose ratio). The carb combination is important, because it takes advantage of the fact that your digestive tract has two separate transport systems for the absorption of glucose and fructose. If you load up on just one carb source or the other, the transporters for that source fill up and you can’t absorb the extra carbs. But by providing both glucose and fructose, you take advantage of the dual transport system and you get the benefit of extra fuel. PowerBar makes it easy to take advantage of this cutting-edge research with PowerBar C2MAX dual source energy blend. PowerBar C2MAX features the research-tested 2:1 ratio of glucose to fructose. The carbohydrates in products that contain PowerBar C2MAX energy blend can be consumed at the rate of up to 45–90 grams per hour when riding. For more information on PowerBar C2MAX, go to www.powerbar.com.
Coffee is the world’s most popular beverage, and its caffeine content is a major reason why. For many, a cup of coffee in the morning helps wake us up, and a second cup in the afternoon helps keep us going — a fact not lost on distance runners. Caffeine has been the subject of extensive research. It can boost performance in many athletes, including distance runners. The exact mechanisms are still being studied, but the benefit seems clear. Caffeine before or during endurance exercise can help reduce the perception of how hard you’re working, so you might run faster and/or farther without feeling like you’re working harder. However, you don’t need tons of the stuff to get an effect, and some athletes are sensitive to caffeine and should avoid it. The more recently recommended amount for performance improvement is 0.45–1.4 mg caffeine per lb body weight (1–3 mg per kg). For a 150-lb (68-kg) athlete, that equates to about 70–210 mg. To learn more about using caffeine effectively, search Caffeine and Athletic Performance at www.powerbar.com.
POWERBAR SPORTS NUTRITION FOR ROAD CYCLISTS
Road cycling is a sport for which sports nutrition was created. Athletes need to achieve appropriate levels of muscle and fat mass, while also obtaining enough calories to sustain the grind of a season and to maintain a strong immune system. Daily recovery with a focus on glycogen restoration, muscle tissue repair and building, and re-hydration is critical. Be your best when training and competing — by being prepared nutritionally before you start exercise, by knowing what to rehydrate and refuel with when training or racing, and by doing what’s needed afterwards to promote a full recovery. PowerBar® sports nutrition products and tools can help you meet your hydration, fueling, and recovery needs.
DAILY NUTRITION TIPS
- Aim for well-balanced diet with a variety of carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthful fats.
- Carbohydrates should be the focus of your meals.
- Drink up early: Every morning when you wake up, have a large glass of water.
- Keep up your energy levels: Eat 5-6 smaller meals per day.
|SPORTS NUTRITION PLAN|
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