Nutrition guide

The Ultimate Guide to Sports Nutrition


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Good sports nutrition is of the utmost importance for a quick finish time. Here, sports nutritionist Emma Barraclough walks you through everything you need to know to fill up with sports energy – from loading up on carbohydrates at pre-departure breakfast, to caffeine and avoiding the lure of sports. treats from the feeding station.

Carb-loading before an athlete

In the week leading up to your sport activity, it’s important to reduce your workout volume in order to reach the event rested and ready to ride, but you’ll need to think about your diet as the big day approaches. too much. This traditionally meant eating a lot of carbohydrates in the last few days in order to fill the muscles with glycogen before the ride.

“Carbohydrate load seems like a very old term now, but it’s still true that if you can build up your stored carbohydrates in your body – glycogen stores – it will last you longer when you go to events,” said Barraclough. BikeRadar. “The change from the last few years is that you don’t have to go through the exhaustion phases in the week before – 48 hours in advance is enough.”

High carbohydrate meals can be supplemented with carbohydrate drinks to prevent bloating
DuÅ¡an Zidar – Fotolia.com

Figuring out how much you will need is pretty straightforward too. “This is where you would use grams per kilogram of body mass, because that is very important to your lean muscle mass and how much you will be able to store in your body,” continues Barraclough.

“We usually say between 8g and 12g for most recreational riders, but that depends a bit on experience and what the riders are looking to accomplish in their event, whether they just take one lap or go for a PB.

“10g would basically mean three carb meals in the day with carb snacks in between. Many people find it difficult to absorb a lot of bulk food when they are not really exercising while cutting back. It doesn’t feel natural and you feel a bit sluggish if you just fill up on food all the time, so you can use the carb drinks.

What to have for breakfast before the trip

You’re rested and full of carbohydrates in the 48 hours before your sporting activity – don’t spoil your preparation by forgoing breakfast before the event.

“For breakfast on the morning of the long walk – two or three hours before – we normally speak up to 2 g per kg of body mass. Basically, these are two breakfast sets – porridge with toast as well – doubling what we would perceive to be a normal breakfast serving. You can use an energy drink with a large serving of cereal or porridge if you don’t want to eat that much.

As the nerves develop as the event approaches, there is sometimes a tendency to feel like you don’t have enough energy in the bank and the temptation to swallow a frost can easily become overwhelming. Keep that desire under control, the resulting sugar rush and insulin response won’t do you a favor until you work hard on the bike. As Barraclough reminded us, “If you have a good carbohydrate load, you don’t need to take any gels beforehand. “

Fuel up fast, then hit your carb goals

Once your nervous energy is released starting from the starting grid with hundreds of other enthusiastic runners, nutrition is just one of the many things you need to focus on, but keep fuel in mind. is the key to success.

Setting your Garmin to alert you of power intervals can help you focus on driving instead
Pascal Guyot / AFP / Getty Images

“One of the big mistakes people make is not taking energy drinks and gels a little too late,” Barraclough said. “In general, even with your maximum load, you probably only have enough glycogen stores for about 90 minutes, but you certainly don’t want to wait until you get close to that point. The longer you can keep your own glycogen stores, the better off you will feel.

“You want to start your commute and settle into your own pace, but generally take a gel or a bar within 30-40 minutes and maintain that steady diet as you go, so that you hit around 60g of carbs. per hour. .

“That often means one or two isotonic gels per hour plus what you drink. Some electrolyte drinks support carbohydrates and electrolytes together.

Stick to sports nutrition

“Sports nutrition products are designed to simply give you the nutrients you need in a quickly absorbable form – that’s the whole point. So of course you can eat a jam sandwich or whatever as you go, but you’ll also have fiber and fat combined which are all going to slow absorption.

Many people find it difficult to rely solely on sports nutrition, with many runners using real food in addition to their specific sport products. It’s all a balancing act between performance and your ability to manage the appetite for sports nutrition.

“If you push really hard and increase the intensity levels, you’ll have a hard time getting the energy you need if you don’t use sports nutrition and just go for real food. It is the compromise.

Keep a cool head at refueling stations

Sports feeding stations offer loads of goodies to support your legs, but they can also make you laugh at foods that will remain heavy in your stomach for much of the journey.

Hard to resist a temptation in the pit stops
Human race

“Athletic runners should be careful not to go to a refueling station and overeat as there are invariably sports nutrition products, but also cakes and sandwiches,” Barraclough warned.

“There’s always the temptation to overdo it at this point, and then you go up a climb in five to 10 minutes and miss the sandwiches and Jaffa cakes you just ate.

“If you put food in your stomach, it will take out some blood to help digestion away from the working muscles. If you eat too much, you will either end up depriving your muscles of some of the oxygen they need for exercise, or you will end up having cramps in your stomach because you have a hard time digesting it. .

Know the ingredients of your gel

Barraclough cautions that variation between gels of different brands can easily lead to nutrition errors. “The variations in carbohydrate concentration are absolutely huge. Some products are so concentrated that if you don’t bring enough water with them, it is sure to cause bowel problems.

“It’s basically drinking sugar syrup and not diluting it in your stomach, so it will just stay in your gut, not be absorbed, and your body will try to pull the fluid out of your cells to try and dilute it. , so it’s the complete opposite of what you want. It’s about choosing the right product for the right job.

Save Caffeine When You Report

As the ride drags on, the legs and mind invariably suffer, but a little caffeine can really help cool you off on the way to the finish.

Caffeine Gels Can Give You A Much-Needed Mental Boost To Keep You Going
Oli Woodman / Immediate Media

“If you ride for more than four or five hours, caffeine is something you absolutely need to consider to avoid this element of fatigue. Caffeine is purely there to trick your brain into thinking you are not as tired as you are.

Obviously, the more caffeine you consume on a daily basis, the less boost you will get from taking a caffeine gel, but there are other things you can do to refresh your palate. Barraclough recommends packing multiple flavors of gel to alternate, rather than getting bored with just one.

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