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A General Guide to Nutrition and Hydration


Exercise and nutrition are connected, achieve sports performance at any level depends on meeting day to day nutritional requirements. This guide introduces some of the basics of nutrition and healthy eating, and the effect on your cycling performance.


Please note this nutritional guide is not intended to be a medical opinion, diagnose, or treatment of any sort.


Balanced Diet

This refers to the intake appropriate amounts of food and fluid to supply nutrition and energy to support normal growth and for maintaining your body’s cells, tissues and organs.


Healthy Eating

This is based on your nutritional needs and may include a variety of foods – carbohydrate to provide energy, protein for growth and development, and fats which provide concentrated source of energy. Vitamin and mineral are important as well as theses keeps our bodies healthy and free from diseases.


Sports Nutrition

Refers to eating a healthy balanced diet that is specific to your sport. Your diet should provide energy and nutrients to support normal growth, and increased energy and nutrients needs for training. If you training regularly then you need a diet that will support your physiological needs – if you are training 8 hours a week then you will need more food than when you are training 4 hours a week.



Day-to-day Nutrition

A simple and health approach is to eat well most of the time, and not to deprive yourself of foods you love.


Macros

Macros are macronutrients. Your body needs these nutrients in larger amounts in order to function properly as macro means large. They are the nutrients you use in the largest amounts. The three macronutrients found in food are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These are the nutritive components of food that your body needs for energy and to maintain the body's structure and systems.


Carbohydrates – recommended that your diet consists of 65% carbohydrates.

These mainly sugar and starch, carbohydrates break down into glucose molecules – when used as energy, they become fuel for your muscle and brain. If your body does not have use for glucose then it is converted to glycogen and stored in the liver and muscle as an energy reserve. Your body can store about 12 hours supply of glycogen, and if has more glucose than it can use as energy or convert to glycogen the excess is converted to fat.


Carbohydrates are divided into two categories:
  • Simple carbohydrates are broken down quickly by your body-they have just one or two sugar molecules linked together. Honey (fructose and glucose), table sugar (sucrose) and milk (lactose) all contain simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are very close to being in digested form and will pass into your bloodstream quickly. Foods containing simple carbohydrates – sweets, cookies, sugar, fruit, cake, etc.

  • Complex carbohydrates are made up of sugar molecules that are strung together in long, complex chains. Complex carbohydrates have more nutrients and take longer for your body to digest, so they help fill you up and don't cause the same swings in blood sugars as simple carbohydrate. Complex carbohydrates are found in foods such whole grains, foods prepared with grains and vegetables. Both simple and complex carbohydrates are turned to glucose (blood sugar) in the body and are used as energy, however complex carbohydrate have additional vitamins, minerals, and fibre which are necessary for good health and performance.


Protein - recommended that your diet consists of 25% proteins.

Protein is an important part of a healthy diet, it is essential for building and repairing muscles and bones and to make hormones and enzymes. It is important to have protein with carbohydrates as this combination provides the necessary energy to fuel your muscles.


Fat - recommended that your diet consists of 15% fats.

Fat supplies your body with essential fatty acids which are responsible for healthy growth and development. In addition fatty acids are the basic ingredients for several hormones that help to maintain healthy skin and hair, and transport fat soluble vitamins. Fat is also a source of energy for physical activity. And fat cells cushion organs and acts as insulation against cold temperature.


Fat can be divided into two categories; the difference between the two is in their chemical make-up:

  • Saturated fat tends to be a solid at room temperature, example butter

  • Unsaturated fat tends to be a liquid at room temperature, example olive oil

Tip – you should consume two serving of oily fish (Omega 3 fatty acids) such as mackerel, salmon, halibut and herring per week, as it can help fight off many diseases and keep your body health. Other sources of fatty acids are soya beans, flaxseed and green leafy vegetables.


Micros

Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals, these do not provide energy, however they are essential part of your diet as they boost the immune system, support normal growth and development, and help cells and organs do their jobs. For example, you've probably heard that carrots are good for your eyes - micronutrients can found across the food chain in a variety of plant and animal foods.


And that is it; day to day nutrition is beyond the scope of this guide.



Hydration

During exercise/cycling your body loses fluid by sweating and water vapour in the air that you breathe out. Many athletes don’t drink enough fluid, leaving them on the edge of dehydration.


Dehydration results in reduction of plasma, making the blood thick and forcing the heart and body to work harder moving it.

It is also important that you drink water steadily throughout the day, based on your size and training load you should get in at least 1 to 1.5 litres of water. You should need to visit the toilet once every two hours during the day. Use the colour of urine, it should be almost clear to pale yellow, the colour of lemonade, drink more if you not achieving this.


In the morning...

Your main priority before you start your day is to ensure that you are well hydrated. You should drink at least 500 to 650 ml (2-3 cups) of water after waking up.


During exercise...

Drink early and often. Sip, get some fluids (combination of water and sport drink) in every 20 to 30 minutes. The more you sweat the more you need to drink, the hotter or more humid the conditions the more you need to drink; you may require 500 to 1000 mL per hour.


After...

It is important that you replace fluid loss immediately after exercising.



About Sports Drinks

Sports drinks are carbohydrate energy supplement that can be used before, during, and after exercise to improve performance and accelerate recovery.


During...

The amount you need depends mainly on your size, length of exercise and intensity, so experiment to determine your requirement. The sports drink may be taken together with any other carbohydrate, such as fruit, energy gel and energy bars, and again this depends mainly on your size and exercise intensity.


After...

Drink 500 mL sports drink in the 30 minutes after exercise to accelerate recovery, as the carbohydrate is stored at the highest rate in the muscle in this period. This will enable you to perform better in your next round of competition or training.


General hydration guide for intensity and duration, and when to use a sports drinks:

Water for low or moderate intensity sessions shorter than 30 minutes.

Water or sports drink for high intensity sessions shorter than 30 minutes.

Water or sports drink for low or moderate intensity sessions shorter than 60 minutes.

Water or sports drink for high intensity sessions shorter than 60 minutes.

Sports drink and water for high intensity sessions longer than 60 minutes.



Nutrition Around Your Training And Racing

Before...

Ideally you should eat between two to four hours before exercise, leaving enough time for the stomach to empty and settle. Food taken in before exercise should be high in carbohydrates, low in fat and contain a small amount of protein. Many athletes train in the morning before work, and it’s not always possible to eat two to four hours before a session. In these circumstances, it is recommended that you consume a small carbohydrate-based snack or drink 10 to 20 minutes before the session, or even during the warm-up. Two tips – The closer you are to starting the activity the smaller your meal has to be. Liquid meals empty quicker than solid meals.

  • Interval training: 1 to 2 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight and 20 grams of protein 2 to 4 hours, consider some caffeine 60 minutes before or a small carbohydrate-based snack or drink 10 to 20 minutes before or during the warm-up.

  • Endurance rides less than 2 hours: No special nutritional requirement as these rides can be fuelled by stored energy.

  • Endurance rides between 2 to 5 hours: No special nutritional requirement, however if you tend to run low on energy in these rides then 1 to 2 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight and 20 grams of protein 2 to 4 hours or a small carbohydrate-based snack or drink 10 to 20 minutes before or during the warm-up.

  • Races, endurance rides longer than 5 hours and group rides: 1 to 2 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight and 20 grams of protein 2 to 4 hours or a small carbohydrate-based snack or drink 10 to 20 minutes before or during the warm-up.

  • Recovery rides: No special nutritional requirement.


During...

If your workout is longer than 60 minutes at a moderate or high intensity then eating or drinking carbohydrate rich snack can help in delaying tiredness and fatigue. You spare muscle glycogen and keep blood glucose level normal, and provide extra for empty muscles by consuming carbohydrate food during a workout. Tip - eat and drink small amounts early and often.


**Drink to thirst, simply means drinking fluid whenever you feel thirsty and stopping when you're not. If you think your thirst mechanism is not effective then drink early and often, get some fluids in every 20 to 30 minutes.

  • Interval training: **Drink to thirst, drink more if you are training indoors. Water and sports drink - for best results and depending on intensity and duration, 40 to 80 grams of carbohydrate in liquid form per hour of training.

  • Endurance rides less than 2 hours: **Drink to thirst, water is sufficient. No special nutritional requirement as these rides can be fuelled by stored energy.

  • Endurance rides between 2 to 5 hours: **Drink to thirst, water and sports drink. A combination of solid and liquid carbohydrates, 30 to 60 grams of per hour of riding is sufficient.

  • Races, endurance rides longer than 5 hours and group rides: **Drink to thirst, water and sports drink. A combination of solid and liquid carbohydrates, 40 to 80 grams of per hour of riding is sufficient.

  • Recovery rides: **Drink to thirst, water is sufficient.


After...

Your muscle glycogen becomes depleted after exercise, and the quicker you are able to refuel, the faster you will recover and prepare your body for the next session. Your post–exercise meal should be high in carbohydrates to top-up muscle glycogen and contain some protein for recovery. Tip – include plenty fluid s to help re-hydrate.

  • This should on the top of the list after finishing the race or training session, consume a good mixture of carbohydrates and proteins post activity meal or drink within 30 minutes of completing a workout or race. You should aim to get in 1 gram of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight with a small amount of protein, 20 grams is sufficient.

  • Recovery rides and endurance rides less than 2 hours....regardless of the intensity and duration, have a post ride recovery meal or snack as this will help in fuelling of the next day's training.



A sample list of appropriate foods to eat before, during and after a training ride or race:

2 to 4 hours before interval training, an endurance ride longer 5 hours, a group ride or a race...
  • Breakfast cereal with milk, cooked oats made with milk, or a breakfast smoothie.

  • A servicing of fruit – apple, banana, strawberries, raisins, etc.

  • 1 or 2 slices of toast with cheese, peanut butter, jam or honey.

  • A cup of tea or coffee, or glass of fruit juice.

60 minute before interval training or an endurance ride between 2 to 5 hours...
  • Caffeine and a small carbohydrate-based snack - 2 slices of toast with peanut butter, jam or honey or 500ml sports drink and energy bar, gel or a medium sized spotty ripe banana (will release sugar faster).

10 to 20 minute before or during the warm-up of interval training or an endurance ride between 2 to 5 hours...
  • A small carbohydrate-based snack or drink - sports drink and energy bar, gel or a medium sized spotty ripe banana (will release sugar faster).

During will depend mainly on your size, and exercise intensity and duration. Rule of thumb - the bigger you are, the higher the intensity and or the longer the duration the more you will need.

During an endurance ride between 2 to 5 hours...
  • A combination of solid and liquid carbohydrates, 30 to 60 grams of per hour of riding is sufficient. As always eat and drink early and often, don’t wait until you are hungry or thirsty.

  • 500 mL water and or 500 mL sports drink together with any other carbohydrate, such as fruit - a handle full of dates and or raisins, slice of banana bread, 1 to 2 slices of white bread with peanut butter, jam or honey , energy gel or energy bars.

During interval training...
  • A combination of solid and liquid carbohydrates, 40 to 80 grams of per hour of riding is sufficient. As always eat and drink early and often, don’t wait until you are hungry or thirsty.

  • 500 mL water and or 500 mL sports drink together with something that is easy to chew and digest, energy-dense and high in carbohydrates energy gels or energy bars or any other carbohydrate, such as a handle full of dates and or raisins or a medium sized spotty ripe banana (will release sugar faster).

During an endurance ride longer 5 hours, a group ride or a race...
  • A combination of solid and liquid carbohydrates, 40 to 80 grams of per hour of riding is sufficient. As always eat and drink early and often, don’t wait until you are hungry or thirsty.

  • 500 mL water and or 500 mL sports drink together with any other carbohydrate, such as fruit - a handle full of dates and or raisins or a medium sized spotty ripe banana (will release sugar faster), a 1 to 2 slices of white bread with peanut butter, jam or honey, energy gel or energy bars.

  • Eat something small every 20 to 30 minutes. This will make it easier for your digestives system to process and absorb the intake. And eat solid foods first, save the gels for later because gels are easier to digest when fatigued.

30 minutes after...
  • A good mixture of carbohydrates and proteins – this could be a recovery shake and energy bar, chocolate flavoured milk and banana or peanut butter sandwich.



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That is it. Thank you for reading. I hope you found it to be a useful resource.



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