Nutri­tion

TO EAT WELL FOR MTB SUC­CESS

Australian Mountain Bike - - Contents - WORDS: ZOE WIL­SON

Sports nutri­tion ad­vice can be com­pli­cated, con­fus­ing and time con­sum­ing, but it doesn’t have to be. Get these ten things right and you’ll be on track to sup­port­ing your train­ing and im­prov­ing your per­for­mance.

1. Eat Enough… But not too much. Get­ting the bal­ance right in terms of calo­ries can be tricky, but is re­ally im­por­tant. Ever get back from a long ride and re­ward your­self with a huge pub lunch com­plete with beers? It’s com­mon that we over­es­ti­mate how much ex­er­cise we’ve done and there­fore eat too much, re­sult­ing in weight gain, not weight loss as you would ex­pect when you’re rid­ing reg­u­larly. In­stead, use the calo­rie func­tion on your GPS unit or app (if you have one) to es­ti­mate how many calo­ries you’ve burnt. This won’t al­ways be 100 per cent ac­cu­rate, but it will give you a ball park to work with. You can use the eat­forhealth.gov. au web­site to es­ti­mate how many calo­ries you should be eating on a non-rid­ing day (this in­cludes you rest­ing meta­bolic rate and your daily move­ment with­out train­ing). Track how much you’re eating for a few days to see what your av­er­age calo­rie in­take is. If you’re look­ing to lose weight, you want to eat slightly less than the es­ti­mate (around 250 calo­ries at the most), and if you’re look­ing to main­tain you want to try to match it.

2. Go for qual­ity Your body needs nu­tri­ents to run prop­erly. We’re talk­ing carbs, protein, good fats, fi­bre, vi­ta­mins and min­er­als which help sup­port our im­mune sys­tem, pro­vide en­ergy, help with con­cen­tra­tion and as­sist with ap­petite con­trol. Re­ally su­gary or fatty foods like sweets, deep fried foods or “junk food” as we other­wise know them, are high in calo­ries and more of­ten than not very low in these good qual­ity nu­tri­ents that your body needs. To give your body the fuel it needs for a health im­mune sys­tem, brain func­tion and long term health, good for fresh foods, rather than pro­cessed, and choose things that are as close to how they are grown or pro­duced as pos­si­ble. This means go­ing for lots of fresh fruit and ve­g­ies, whole grains, lean meats or other al­ter­na­tives (like beans, tofu or eggs) and dairy. If you’re not sure about a pack­aged food, check the in­gre­di­ents list – if fat, sugar or salt are in the first three in­gre­di­ents, it’s

best to put it back on the shelf as it’s one of the most prom­i­nent in that prod­uct.

3. Eat the rain­bow The colour of your food tells you some­thing about the type of nu­tri­ents that are in that food. For ex­am­ple, or­ange or yel­low foods like car­rots and pump­kin are high in beta-carotene, a pre­cur­sor for vi­ta­min A which we need for healthy skin, healthy im­mune sys­tem, and good eye health and vi­sion as well as re­duc­ing in­flam­ma­tion and pro­mot­ing re­cov­ery af­ter ex­er­cise. To make sure you are get­ting the nu­tri­ents your body needs, eat a rain­bow of colours at ev­ery meal and across the day. Go for a range of fruit and ve­g­ies each day which will add colour to your meat and carbs. Ide­ally we should be eating two serves of fruit each day as well as five serves of vegeta­bles (that’s 2.5 cups of cooked ve­g­ies or 5 cups of salad!).

4. Look at your plate As well as in­creas­ing the colour of your plate, it’s a good idea to look at the bal­ance of what’s on your plate. Lunch and din­ner (and break­fast too ide­ally!) needs to be a bit of a balanc­ing act be­tween carbs, protein and ve­g­ies. If you’re a week­end cy­clist or try­ing to lose a lit­tle weight, aim to fill half your plate with vegeta­bles (think greens or salad here), one quar­ter with car­bo­hy­drate (such as rice, pasta, potato, bread or quinoa) and the fi­nal quar­ter with protein (meat, poul­try, eggs or tofu). If you’re rid­ing quite se­ri­ously, you may need to in­crease the car­bo­hy­drate and protein and sac­ri­fice some of the ve­g­ies to pro­vide enough fuel. In this case, aim­ing for a third of your plate for each is a good rule of thumb.

5. Con­cen­trate! Of­ten we eat when we’re not think­ing so we eat too much or are dis­or­gan­ised so grab food on the run and make poor choices. These poor choices can lead us to eating too many calo­ries or not giv­ing our body enough of the nu­tri­ents we’ve spo­ken about above. In­stead, plan your meals in ad­vance, make sure you have some good qual­ity snack op­tions in case you get stuck and ac­tu­ally pay at­ten­tion when you eat. Take time out for meals, and try not to eat in front of your com­puter at work, in the car or in front of the TV (when those Tim Tams mag­i­cally dis­ap­pear with­out our knowl­edge…).

6. Don’t for­get to drink Now don’t get ex­cited and crack open a bot­tle of wine… We’re talk­ing about wa­ter here! Drink­ing adequate amounts of wa­ter each day not only helps your per­for­mance on the bike, but also helps your en­ergy and con­cen­tra­tion lev­els when you’re off the bike. Most peo­ple, on av­er­age, should be drink­ing around 1.5-2L of wa­ter each day, but you need to also add enough ad­di­tional fluid to match what you lose dur­ing a ride. Sip­ping dur­ing the day and hav­ing a glass of wa­ter with meals as well as car­ry­ing a bot­tle with you on the bike and en­sur­ing you drink a bot­tle when you fin­ish, will help you keep on track. Not sure if you’re drink­ing enough? Check your urine when you go to the loo – if it’s any darker than a pale straw colour, you’re de­hy­drated and need to drink more.

7. Fuel your ride If you’re eating well and reg­u­larly across the day, a ride that is less than 60 min­utes or so will prob­a­bly not need any ad­di­tional fuel. How­ever, if you’re do­ing a ride that is longer than 90 min­utes or you’re cy­cling at a high in­ten­sity, then you’ll likely need to top up your car­bo­hy­drate lev­els to stay strong to­wards the end. It’s rec­om­mended to take on 30-60g of car­bo­hy­drate per hour dur­ing a long ride. You can do this with some­thing like sports drink, gels or bars or with real food al­ter­na­tives like ba­nanas, dates or a honey sand­wich. You can even do a com­bi­na­tion of all of the above! The key here is to prac­tice to find out what works for you.

8. Time it right Eating be­fore you ride can be tricky – there is noth­ing worse that feel­ing too full and un­com­fort­able, or get­ting re­ally hun­gry dur­ing your ride. In­stead, try to eat some­thing small and light around 30 min­utes be­fore you go. Try to avoid re­ally fatty or protein heavy foods as they’ll take longer to di­gest. Good op­tions here in­clude a piece of toast, piece of fruit or some yo­ghurt.

9. Re­cover like a pro The work isn’t done when you step off the bike. In fact some of the most im­por­tant works starts there with your re­cov­ery rou­tine. Just as you might do a post-ride stretch, you need to in­clude a post-ride meal or snack, so your body has what it needs to re­fuel your mus­cles and start the re­cov­ery process. The key here is a mix of protein and carbs and you need to aim to have it within half an hour of fin­ish­ing if you can. Ide­ally you’ll have 1g of car­bo­hy­drate for ev­ery kilo­gram you weigh and 10g of protein (i.e. 70g of carbs and 10g of protein for a 70kg rider). Good op­tions in­clude ce­real with milk, eggs on toast, a sand­wich with lean meat or cheese or a re­cov­ery protein pow­der.

10. Don’t over-sup­ple­ment Sup­ple­ment com­pa­nies are re­ally suc­cess­ful be­cause they are re­ally good at mar­ket­ing! How­ever, most of us rid­ing reg­u­larly don’t re­ally need to sup­ple­ment as we can get enough nu­tri­ents from eating good qual­ity foods around ses­sions. The ex­cep­tions to this are elite ath­letes, those with di­etary re­stric­tions or those who have been di­ag­nosed with a nu­tri­ent de­fi­ciency. If this is you, you may need to sup­ple­ment your nor­mal diet, how­ever it’s best to see an Ac­cred­ited Sports Di­eti­tian to help you do this.

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