Australian Mountain Bike - - Skills - WORDS: ZOE WIL­SON PHOTOS: ROBERT CONROY

Type “nutri­tion for cy­cling” into Google and you’ll come up with al­most 26 mil­lion re­sults. No won­der we are con­fused some­times! Most of us tend to know the ba­sics of what makes up a healthy diet, but when it comes to sports nutri­tion, there are some things you might never have heard of - un­til you get way down that Google re­sults list. Here are seven sur­pris­ing nutri­tion facts re­lated to rid­ing you prob­a­bly didn’t know.


Hunger varies daily. You might have no­ticed that the few days after a re­ally big ride, you’re eat­ing your­self out of house and home, whereas on the ac­tual day of your big ride you could barely fin­ish your lunch af­ter­wards. Hunger is of­ten sup­pressed after a hard ses­sion, most likely due to the re­dis­tri­bu­tion of blood flow to the ex­trem­i­ties and away from your gut. Give your body time to sort it­self out, though, and you’ll find you have an in­creased ap­petite for one or two days as it tries to catch up on the calo­ries you burnt dur­ing your hard day in the saddle. What does this mean for you? Eat­ing to ap­petite, rather than out of habit, is a good way to go. Don’t beat your­self up if there are days you eat more, but also try not to eat too of­ten when you’re not hun­gry, es­pe­cially if you are try­ing to keep your weight down.


We’re all aware of the sweat­ing we do dur­ing a ride. It’s why you should al­ways carry a bot­tle and drink dur­ing ses­sions. How­ever, did you know that you keep los­ing flu­ids through sweat­ing (and urine) after you fin­ish your ride? This means you of­ten need to drink more than you think. The re­ally stinky bit? You need to drink 125-150% the amount of fluid you lost dur­ing your ride in the four to six hours af­ter­wards. This means that if you weighed your­self be­fore and after a hard hour on the bike and lost 1kg, you need to drink 1.251.5L of fluid to prop­erly re­hy­drate.


Ra­tios are math­e­mat­i­cal con­cepts that we of­ten don’t think about after we leave school. But ra­tios are re­ally im­por­tant if you want op­ti­mum per­for­mance dur­ing a ride and in the re­cov­ery phase af­ter­wards. Dur­ing a hard ride or race, to min­imise stom­ach dis­com­fort and in­crease the speed of ab­sorp­tion of sugar for fuel, you want to choose a sports drink or gel with a ra­tio of 2:1 glu­cose to fruc­tose (eg two grams of glu­cose for ev­ery gram of fruc­tose). Here’s an­other one for you… In the hour post­train­ing, you want to eat carbs and pro­tein in a ra­tio of 2-4:1 (eg 2-4g of carbs for ev­ery gram of pro­tein). This seems to lead to the fastest re­fu­elling of your mus­cles en­ergy stores as well as pro­vid­ing the right amount of pro­tein for mus­cle re­pair, mean­ing you’ll pull up bet­ter the next day. Fun fact of the day: the ra­tio of carbs and pro­tein in cho­co­late milk is 2:1 and why it’s been touted as one of the best re­cov­ery drinks!


Con­sider an­tiox­i­dants to be like the clean­ers of your body. An­tiox­i­dants are im­por­tant for mop­ping up free-rad­i­cals which dam­age cells. It’s for this rea­son foods full of an­tiox­i­dants are sold as “youth-boost­ing” or “su­per foods”. You know the ones - blue­ber­ries, goji berries, dark cho­co­late.... But, did you know that an­tiox­i­dants should also be con­sid­ered an es­sen­tial part of your post-ex­er­cise re­cov­ery? An­tiox­i­dants have been shown to speed up the re­cov­ery process and re­duce mus­cle sore­ness after a hard ses­sion. More im­por­tantly, re­search has shown the best re­sults come from us­ing an­tiox­i­dant-rich whole foods, rather than sup­ple­ments. Blue­berry and dark cho­co­late re­cov­ery smoothie any­one?


Caf­feine has con­sis­tently been proven to im­prove per­for­mance with some stud­ies show­ing an im­prove­ment by up to three per cent in the lab. It is thought caf­feine al­ters our per­cep­tion of how hard we’re work­ing, so we can pedal harder for longer when we take caf­feine com­pared to when we don’t. The rec­om­mended dosage for per­for­mance im­prove­ment is usu­ally 1-3mg caf­feine per kilo­gram of body weight (e.g. 70210mg for a 70kg rider). Be care­ful you don’t overdo it though; tak­ing more won’t of­fer an ex­tra ben­e­fit and may lead to neg­a­tive side ef­fects like shak­i­ness, in­creased heart rate or gut trou­ble.


Not nec­es­sar­ily… Drink­ing flu­ids with high sugar con­tent like fruit juice, en­ergy drinks or soft drink (usu­ally around 10% car­bo­hy­drate) dur­ing a ride can cause di­ar­rhoea and cramp­ing as they draw ex­tra wa­ter into the gut. Sports drinks on the other hand are usu­ally made with 4-8% car­bo­hy­drate and con­tain elec­trolytes that help with ab­sorp­tion into the body. This means you have less liq­uid slosh­ing around in your gut, leav­ing you feel­ing less in need of a Por­taloo on route!


All this talk of sports food and drink leads to your den­tist’s door. Reg­u­larly us­ing sug­ary food and drink on the bike for fuel can in­crease your risk of cav­i­ties. It’s not just the sugar - the acid­ity of sports foods and the fact that you have less saliva (due to all the huff­ing and puff­ing), leads to the per­fect en­vi­ron­ment for tooth ero­sion. In­stead? If you use sports food and drink, sip wa­ter be­tween mouth­fuls of sports drinks and after you’ve had a gel, and try to re­hy­drate as quickly as pos­si­ble so you have lots of saliva to help re­duce the bac­te­ria in your mouth. Most im­por­tantly, make sure you see your den­tist reg­u­larly.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.