Nutrition guidelines for training and riding
Everyone has their unique dietary requirements, so it’s vital to find out what works for you. There is no magic food or formula that works best.
Here is what I recommend for my athletes.
- Eat foods that are as unprocessed as possible;
- Focus on consuming a healthy serving of lightly steamed veggies with evening meals;
- Snack on fruit and nuts during the day;
- Eat low GI and unprocessed carbohydrates;
- Eat white meat and lean red meat;
- Reduce the consumption of soft drinks, fatty, fried and highly salted foods, biscuits and products containing white flour;
- Ensure that you get enough fibre in your diet;
- Drink water adequately but not too much that you leach your body of minerals;
- Reduce the consumption of alcohol.
On the ride carbohydrate consumption
I strongly recommend that you experiment to work out your nutritional requirements during your training leading up to the L’Étape Australia.
Aim to consume 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour. This can be met by consuming a variety of combinations of sports drinks, sports bars and gels, ANZAC biscuits, fruit cake and sandwiches.
If you are riding at a leisurely pace, then “real” food like bananas and fruit cake are great options. Cyclists with heavier builds consume more carbohydrate per hour than lighter built cyclists.
The faster you go, the more you’ll be relying on HI GI carbohydrate products that can be consumed and digested quickly like sports drinks, gels and sports bars.
Most products now have their carbohydrate content listed on the outside of the packet. This makes it relatively easy to work out how many you’ll need to eat per hour.
Remember that these are guidelines only!
The amount of fluid you consume will vary depending on how hot it is when you are riding and how much you perspire. Each individual has their specific hydration needs, so it’s important to experiment while riding until you find what works for you.
Hydration can be complicated further because many people rely on the carbohydrate in the sports drinks to provide them with fuel as well. On cooler days, they may not be drinking enough sports drinks to meet their 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour requirements. If this is the case, then supplementing the sports drink with a snack will help.
During the hottest part of hot days, you may not be able to consume enough fluid compared to what you lose. If you know that you are going to be riding through the middle part of a really hot day, it’s important to ensure that to keep on top of your hydration earlier on in the ride. By doing this, you’ll be less likely to run deeply into hydration deficit before the midday heat.
Having a headache on the bike on a hot day is a sure sign that you are dehydrated.
David Heatley is the founder of Cycling-Inform and an international cycling coach that helps the busy cyclist quickly get awesome results with their cycling through a unique time saving cycle training system with coaching support. For more information please visit his website.