Cycling Nutrition Guide0
Train as you race!
No matter what distance of sportive you decide to tackle, there are certain elements you need to give serious thought to; your training and your nutrition. Don’t let those hard earned miles go to waste with poor nutritional strategies.
Your nutrition will be the make or break when it comes to not just surviving the miles in the saddle but actually enjoying the event when race day comes and being able to train without fatigue.
We’ve put together the key nutritional considerations to help you fuel your training days and chosen sportive itself.
Fueling Your Training
Key Consideration: Train as you race!
Testing nutrition strategies before race day is essential for the following reasons:
- Morning fuel: Your breakfast will be one of the most important meals you consume and will set you up for the first bout on the bike, so make sure you are comfortable with it and it works for you.
- On the go feeding: Fuelling on the bike is key, so get confident at consuming food and fluid whilst cycling at speed.
- Carbohydrate intake: Since your body can only store enough carbohydrate for up to 90-120 minutes you will need to intake up to 60-90g of carbohydrate per hour during prolonged exercise (over 90 minutes) to maintain carbohydrate supply to your muscles(1). If you’re not used to consuming this much carbohydrate during exercise it is a good idea to test it out to ensure the body is capable.
- Sweat rate: How much you sweat will dictate how much fluid you need to take-in. Aim to not lose any more than 2-3 % of your body mass to maintain hydration and be ready to train the next day(2).
Below is an example nutrition guide to follow around your training:
|Pre-Training||During your rides||Post-Training|
|Hydration||Ensure you are fully hydrated. Drink 500 – 1000ml of fluid at least 4 hours prior to your training ride. Use GO Electrolyte or GO Hydro to increase fluid retention||Work out how much you are sweating (per hour). Try not to lose more than 2-3% of your body mass through sweating. This usually means drinking 500 ml of GO Electrolyte per hour depending on temperature. For shorter rides, use GO Hydro to focus on replacing electrolytes lost through sweat||To ensure that you are fully recovered to train again, aim to replace 150% of the fluid volume lost through sweating(3). Always make sure to weigh yourself before and after your training rides.|
|Energy||Fuel for the work required throughout your training weeks(4). During short or low intense sessions, reduce carbohydrate intake. However, it’s important to practice your race-day fuelling plan during longer sessions, so that your body adapts to the work. Here, have a carbohydrate-based snack 3-4 hours before such as porridge, breads and yogurts. A GO Energy Bar 30 minutes before can help top up your energy stores||For shorter training rides, focus on electrolyte and fluid intake. For longer rides, aim to take on 60-90g of carbohydrate per hour using a combination GO Isotonic Energy gels/GO Immune Gels and GO Electrolyte. Find out the combination that works for you during training.||If you’ve had a tough session, replenish your carbohydrate stores with 1.2 g/kg of carbohydrates, starting within 30 minutes of finishing your ride.|
|Recovery||Ensure that you rest well between rides as this is where adaptations take place. Overtraining is common in endurance athletes. Aim to get the same amount of sleep throughout your training period.||N/A||Post-training recovery starts within 30 minutes of finishing your ride. Take REGO Rapid Recovery or REGO Rapid Recovery Plus to replace glycogen and electrolyte stores and rebuild lean muscle. Finally, ensure that your post training meal contains a mix of carbohydrates, protein and vegetables.|
|Caffeine||A pre training GO Caffeine Shot can help decrease your perception of fatigue and increase concentration during your rides. Take 30 minutes before your session||N/A||N/A|
Key Consideration 1: Build up Strategies; the Importance of carbohydrate
Our muscles can store up to 400-500 g or around 2000 kcal of glycogen to be used as energy. Glycogen is the main fuel you will use during your race and is stored when you eat carbohydrate. To make sure these stores are fully loaded, reducing the onset of fatigue, you can step up your overall carbohydrate intake in the 48 hours before the event(5).
To do this, increase your carbohydrate portions at meal times, including foods such as rice, potatoes, pasta and cereals and add carbohydrate snacks in-between, such as cereal bars, fruit, or carbohydrate drinks such as GO Electrolyte. Aim for 8-10g of carbohydrate per kilo of your body mass, per day.
Below is an example plan for a typical 70kg cyclist providing 3500kcal, loading with 600g carbohydrates- great the day before a race:
|Breakfast||3 Cups Granola with milk; 1 medium banana; 250ml fruit juice|
|Snack||Blueberry muffin; 500ml GO Electrolyte|
|Lunch||2x Panini (choice of filling); low fat yogurt|
|Snack||Smoothie: Banana; yogurt; honey; granola|
|Dinner||3 cups brown pasta with tomato sauce; 3 slices garlic bread|
|Snack||Toasted muffin with peanut butter; 500ml GO Electrolyte|
Key Consideration 2: Pre-Race
Breakfast: Have breakfast 3 hours before the race. This should be mainly carbohydrate based as our liver glycogen stores decrease over night. Don’t leave breakfast too late as this could cause stomach cramps once you jump on the bike. This should involve normal breakfast foods that you’re accustomed to such as toast, cereals and juices.
Hydration: Pre race hydration is key. Aim to drink 500ml-1000ml of fluid in the build up to the race, ideally 500ml 2-3 hours at breakfast and 500ml in the build up to the event. Don’t drink just water, GO Electrolyte or GO Hydro can increase fluid absorption and retention, meaning there will be less stops for the toilet during the race(5).
Snacking: A pre race snack is perfect to ensure we don’t eat everything at once for breakfast, which could cause stomach discomfort. A GO Energy Bar or GO Energy Bar Plus Caffeine, 30 minutes before you start will help ‘top up’ your energy stores.
Key Consideration 3: During the Race
- For shorter rides less than 90 minutes, focus on hydration and electrolyte intake. If you have trained using a caffeine product such as GO Hydro + Caffeine, this should be taken just before the ride to kick in and last you short length of the race.
- For longer rides over 90 minutes, focus on hydration and carbohydrate intake. Our bodies can absorb around 60-90g of carbohydrate per hour so know how long you’ll be riding and pack enough nutrition to see you through to the end(5). Here, caffeine should be taken towards the end of your race to give you increased mental stimulation.
The tables below provide an example nutrition plan during the race. Most importantly, don’t try this nutrition plan on race day for first time.
Shorter Races (<90min)
|Event Day (<90min)||During Race|
Longer Races (>90 min)
|Event Day (>90min)||During Race|
After training or racing the body will be in a state of depletion; to reduce fatigue, the risk of injury and promote physiological adaptations it is important to recover well by refuelling and getting enough rest. Consider these three key points for the ultimate post-ride recovery:
- Refuel: The capacity of your muscles to absorb and store nutrients is increased 30-60 minutes post-exercise, so it is important to replace carbohydrates and provide protein and electrolytes within this time. This can be done with “real food” such as carbohydrate (e.g. rice, pasta, breads etc) and protein options (e.g. greek yogurt, chicken, fish etc), however this is not always possible or palatable immediately after training or a race. REGO Rapid Recovery provides the body with 23g of carbohydrate, 20g of protein and 1 gram of salt, which is what the body needs to begin the adaptation and recovery process after training and competition.
- Food: Take on a full carbohydrate based meal within 1 hour of finishing a tough training ride or race. This should also include a source of protein and plenty of vegetables.
- Always plan ahead: Pre-planning your meals or snacks after training ensures that you can take advantage of the 30-60 minute recovery window. If you have to drive back from a race or are heading out to training straight after work, ensure you have the appropriate meals with you. Have REGO Rapid Recovery pre-mixed in your kitbag for when you finish training and competition.
- Don’t forget protein before sleep: Sleep is one of the most important aspects of recovery. During sleep, it is also important to have the muscles to have a supply of protein (i.e. amino acids) to help the muscle recovery. Consuming 40 g of Overnight Protein prior to sleep can help to deliver a sustained supply of amino acids during the overnight period. Mixing with milk (as opposed to water) can also deliver more carbohydrates to help with recovery of glycogen stores.
- Jeukendrup, A. (2014). A step towards personalized sports nutrition: carbohydrate intake during exercise. Sports Medicine, 44(1), 25-33.
- Casa, D. J., DeMartini, J. K., Bergeron, M. F., Csillan, D., Eichner, E. R., Lopez, R. M. & Yeargin, S. W. (2015). National Athletic Trainers' Association position statement: exertional heat illnesses. Journal of Athletic Training, 50(9), 986-1000.
- Baker, L. B., & Jeukendrup, A. E. (2014). Optimal composition of fluid‐replacement beverages. Comprehensive Physiology, 4, 575-630
- Impey, S. G., Hammond, K. M., Shepherd, S. O., Sharples, A. P., Stewart, C., Limb, M., ... & Close, G. L. (2016). Fuel for the work required: a practical approach to amalgamating train‐low paradigms for endurance athletes. Physiological reports, 4(10), e12803.
- Thomas, D. T., Erdman, K. A., & Burke, L. M. (2016). Position of the academy of nutrition and dietetics, dietitians of canada, and the american college of sports medicine: Nutrition and athletic performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116(3), 501-528.