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0800 BIKE BARN

Nuturition Guide

Nutrition infoformation for 6 common rides 

 

Every ride is different, therefore every nutrition plan varies on the type of ride you are intending. In addition to differing Calorie requirements and recommendations, there are some specific do's and don'ts. This page will look at the 6 common types of rides and recommend 4 different diet periods for each ride.

 

The Communal or Social Ride

This ride is done at a comfortable pace for 1 to 2 hours daily. The goal is to have a comfortable ride with energy left for the rest of the day.

  • 4 days prior - balanced diet with 60-70% Calories from carbohydrates
  • 4 hours prior - eat a high carbohydrate breakfast 30 to 45 minutes before the ride
  • 4 minutes before - nothing special
  • During the ride - eating is optional for a ride of 2 hours or less post ride - a mid morning snack might be a good idea but is not essential; a good balanced diet will replace the glycogen used during the ride
  • Fluids - one water bottle per hour, more in hot weather

 

Basic Training Ride

This ride is just a bit longer than the 2 hour limit that can lead to "hitting the wall" (the condition when an athlete suddenly loses energy and becomes fatigued), so snacking on the bike is a must. As the intensity increases, it is very important to avoid eating in the 4 hour pre-ride interval to avoid GI (glucose) distress.

  • 4 days prior - balanced diet with 60-70% Calories from carbohydrates; at least 600 grams of carbs the day prior to the ride
  • 4 hours prior - if the intensity is moderate, eating during this interval is OK; avoid excessively fatty foods and try to eat 2 hours before the ride
  • 4 minutes prior - nothing special
  • During the ride - start eating regular snacks, energy gels, or sports drinks at the beginning of the ride to replace the estimated Calories burned per hour
  • Post ride - a post ride carbohydrate snack, particularly in the 10 to 15 minutes immediately afterwards, will take advantage of the window of maximum glycogen resynthesis and may cut down on muscle soreness
  • Fluids - one water bottle per hour, perhaps a bit more in hot weather

 

Intervals

For intervals, it is key to have your stomach empty or you risk the GI distress that goes with exercising close to or above 100% VO2 max. You will also sweat more so that fluid replacement must be watched. If this is a ride of less than 1 1/2 to 2 hours, there is probably not a need to have carbo supplement during the ride.

  • 4 days prior - balanced diet with 60-70% Calories from carbohydrates
  • 4 hours prior - don't eat in the 4 hours before this training ride
  • 4 minutes prior - nothing special, a candy bar or energy bar is OK if you're feeling hungry
  • During the ride - depends on the total time/distance to be covered. If it's truly focused on intervals, no carbos are needed
  • Post ride - a post ride carbohydrate snack, particularly in the 10 to 15 minutes immediately afterwards, will take advantage of the window for maximum glycogen resynthesis and may cut down on muscle soreness
  • Fluids - one water bottle per hour as an absolute minimum

 

Long Distance

This ride will definitely cause you to "hit the wall" if you don't replace carbohydrates, so snacking on the ride is essential. As intensity increases above 60% VO2 max., it becomes very important to avoid eating in the 4 hour pre-ride interval to avoid GI distress. If this is really planned as a slow, long training ride, then it is not as important. A 300 gram carbohydrate meal 3 to 4 hours before this ride helps "top off the tank" so to speak in terms of muscle glycogen stores.

  • 4 days prior - balanced diet with 70-80 % Calories from carbohydrates; at least 600 grams per day of carbohydrates in the 2 to 3 days prior to the ride
  • 4 hours prior - if the intensity is moderate, eating during this interval is OK, but avoid fatty foods and eat at least 2 hours before the ride. A 300 gram carbohydrate meal 3 to 4 hour pre-ride is recommended if possible
  • 4 minutes prior - nothing special
  • During the ride - regular snacks, energy gels, or sports drinks to replace the estimated Calories burned per hour
  • Post ride - a post ride carbohydrate snack, particularly in the 10 to 15 minutes immediately afterwards, will take advantage of the window for maximum glycogen resynthesis and may cut down on muscle soreness. Eat a high carbohydrate meal that night after the ride.
  • Fluids - one water bottle per hour, perhaps a bit more in hot weather

 

Competitive Event

This is what cycling is all about, and good nutrition will benefit you in more ways then not. You will need a good carbohydrate base to maximize your muscle glycogen reserves. And you need to avoid eating in the 4 hour pre-event interval to keep your stomach empty or you risk the GI distress that goes with exercising close to or above 100% VO2 max. You will also sweat more so fluid replacement needs to be monitored. If this is a ride of less than 1 1/2 to 2 hours, you do not need to carbo supplement during the ride.

  • 4 days prior - balanced diet with 60-70% Calories from carbohydrates; 600 grams of carbohydrate per day in the three days prior to the event
  • 4 hours prior - don't eat in the 4 hours before this ride
  • 4 minutes priorr - a candy bar, energy bar, or other carbohydrate snack is a good idea
  • During the ride - even for an event of 1 1/2 hours or less, a liquid carbohydrate supplement should be used. And if it's going to be longer, you will definitely need carbohydrate supplements (beginning regular snacks, energy gels, or sports drinks as soon as the event starts to replace the estimated Calories burned per hour
  • Post ride - a post ride carbohydrate snack, particularly in the 10 to 15 minutes immediately afterwards, will take advantage of the window for maximum glycogen resynthesis and may cut down on muscle soreness. Eat a high carbohydrate meal that night to replace the muscle glycogen that was probably completely depleted during the event.
  • Fluids - one water bottle per hour as an absolute minimum

 

Multi-day Ride or Bike Tour

Basically the same as the long training ride, the multiday ride needs to be treated with caution, and eat a high carb meal every night or you run the risk of 'hitting the wall' and developing chronic fatigue. If this is going to be a high intensity event on certain days, it is important to avoid eating in the 4 hour pre-ride interval to avoid GI distress. But on those long slow days, that's not an issue. A 300 gram carbohydrate meal each day 3 to 4 hours before the ride will maximize glycogen reserves. This is the dietary program most appropriate for a multi-day bike tour.

  • 4 days prior - balanced diet with 60-70% Calories from carbohydrates; at least 600 grams per day of carbohydrates in the 2 to 3 days prior to the ride
  • 4 hours prior - if the intensity is moderate, eating during this interval is OK, but avoid fatty foods and eat 2 hours before the ride. A 300 gram carbohydrate meal 3 to 4 hour pre ride is recommended
  • 4 minutes prior - nothing special
  • During the ride - regular snacks, energy gels, or sports drinks to replace the estimated Calories burned per hour
  • Post ride - a post ride carbohydrate snack, particularly in the 10 to 15 minutes immediately afterwards, will take advantage of the window for maximum glycogen resynthesis and may cut down on muscle soreness. Eat a high carbohydrate meal that night after the ride, and try to eat at least 600 grams of carbohydrate per day above and beyond that needed to replace the Calories burned on that day's ride.
  • Fluids - one water bottle per hour, perhaps a bit more in hot weather

 

A few additional tips for those trips that will have long back-to-back days on the bike:

  • Train with long back-to-back rides. You can train for a single century by riding long once a week because the event calls for just one day of exertion -- and then you can rest. But to build the stamina for a week (or two) of daily rides you should train with several long, back to back, rides.
  • Replace those Calories in training. When you're maxing those training miles, you need to replace the Calories you are burning (and fluids too) to keep muscle glycogen stores intact. If you skimp, you run the risk of increasing your level of fatigue.
  • Respect your contact points. Keep your hands, feet and saddle area happy. Pain in any of those areas can ruin a good adventure. Think twice about using new gear.
  • Beware of overtraining. It's tempting to put in big miles to prepare for the week. Going too fast (and often) has its own set of risks. Train smart.