A Guide to Nutrition

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 should provide energy and nutrient to support normal growth and the 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


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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.


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