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How To Fuel for Ultra Endurance Bicycle Races


Use this guide to dial in your race nutrition for ultra races such as -


The Munga MTB

The Munga Grit

The Munga Equipe

Race Around Rwanda

Bikingman Series

Cape Epic

Race Around Austria

Radamring 24hr

Attakwas

36One MTB Challenge

Swartberg100

Around The Pot 100/200 Miler

Old Mutual Wealth Double Century

and many others.


Psst! The guide can also be applied to ultra bicycle rides, bike-packing adventure rides, century rides, etc.


Personal tip: For the multi-day non stop events above 1000km... build up some fat reserves, which will probably be the most fun in the 4-6 weeks before the event, eat as much as you can each day. You will arrive at the start line overweight, that's okay because there is no way you can possibly eat as much as you are going to burn during these events.


Days before...

Slightly increase daily energy intake, but maintain healthy nutrition and hydration.



Morning of...

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.

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

  • The closer you are to starting the activity the smaller your meal has to be. Liquid meals empty quicker than solid meals.

  • Eat what you have eaten before your long training rides.

What to eat 2 to 4 hours before

Breakfast cereal, cooked oats, or a breakfast smoothie. A servicing of fruit – apple, banana, strawberries, raisins, etc. One or two slices of toast with cheese, peanut butter, jam or honey. A cup of tea or coffee, or glass of fruit juice.



During...

Eating and or drinking carbohydrate rich snack early and often 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.

  • Start off with enough food and drink to get you through the first 2 to 3 hours or enough to get to the first water-point. Use what you have used on you long training rides.

  • Rule of thumb - eat and drink small amounts early and often.

  • 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.

  • Smoother flatter terrain is a good place to consume liquids and solids, get in plenty here.

  • 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.


40 to 80 grams of carbs per hour of riding.

This could be 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. As always eat and drink early and often, don’t wait until you are hungry or thirsty.


The above mentioned 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.


Hydration

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. 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 (combination of water and sports drink) in every 15 to 20 minutes.


Don’t overdo it with water. When too much water dilutes blood sodium levels, your body is poised for hyponatremia, a dangerous and potentially fatal condition. Symptoms include -


Nausea and vomiting, headache, confusion, loss of energy, drowsiness and fatigue, restlessness and irritability, muscle weakness, spasms or cramps, seizures, or even a coma.



A snack to eat immediately after the activity...

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 fluids 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. This could be a recovery shake and energy bar, chocolate flavoured milk and banana and 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. Questions, comments and high fives! Drop them here.



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