Bike Nutrition

Many thanks to Lara for enquiring about Bike Nutrition

When performing a period of continuous activity such as swimming, running or cycling the body will look to used energy which it has stored. The glucose / glycogen is store in the muscles and blood. As you perform the activity it will slowly be used up. Once this is all gone, the body begins to go into deficit. So you slowly run out of energy and eventually need to stop. This is known as hitting the wall, knocking or bonking!! Depending on your fitness levels this can occur from 30-45mins.

So what can you do? By taking in additional fluids & nutrient during the course of the activity you can too up & offset your glucose / glycogen stores. Look to carry gels, energy bars as these will help. You can also eat simple things such as jelly babies, jam sandwich. Knowing how many you need will come from experience. Look firstly at time on the bike and the intensity

What’s the best strategy? It would be advisable form 45mins to look to take a gel every 20mins and alternate with a bit of a bar as these take a little more time to be broken down before being released into the body. Fluid too is key. One bottle of water / electrolyte & one more carb based would be a best starting point. Look to alternate sips throughout the ride. You should be getting through 3/4 of a bottle per hour – but this will vary according to temperature, intensity etc

What works for one might not work for another. So look to find out during training what products suit your body at varying intensity & climatically conditions.

Racing: one bottle for a sprint, two for olympic is a guide. Some might need more or less depending on fitness, climate etc. I would carry 1 gel for a sprint & 2 for olympic (either carb or caffeine based). Better to have and not use rather than need more to drink but you’ve opted out due to aerodynamic benefits.

Dehydration: prolonged dehydration can cause cardiac drift where the HR slowly increase although the effort has remained fairly even. This is due to dehydration and therefore the body needs to work harder to maintain the effort. Loss of electrolytes aids to this. Remember if you are suddenly thirsty then you are already dehydrated so the end could be close. Look to drink at regular intervals – I.e every 2-5km depending on pace.

Fat: to burn off fat from around the body, you require 15% oxygen to aid the process. This therefore means you need to maintain effort below the traditional 60-75% WHR for aerobic development. This can be extremely dull due to the low level of intensity.

Starve before a ride? You’d only do this if you wanted to lose weight (see above). Not suggested for a long 80km ride as you will be in debt before you start so a greater risk to hitting the wall early in the ride.