Fueling for a Strong Century
Hilary Warner, MPH RD LD
It used to
be simple. Eat pasta before the ride, drink water while riding, and have
some more pasta afterwards. But now there is an abundance of sports gels,
powders, and bars to choose from. Just what combination of food and supplements
will get you to the end with energy to spare?
fast and strong in a long ride like the Seacoast Century, you must feed
your body high-octane fuel before, during, and after! If you eat smart,
you will be able to ride faster and longer than riders who might be better
trained than you but who ignore some of the most basic strategies available
to them for maximizing their performance. The wrong food choices will
make them (and you) slow and tired.
In a long
ride, meeting your fluid, calorie, and carbohydrate needs are your top
nutrition priorities. Although you may get away with shoddy nutrition
for shorter rides, you and your performance will suffer if you do it for
for the Century starts days before the actual event. Your primary objectives
prior to the ride are to stash away as much glycogen in your muscles as
you can and to hydrate. Make an extra effort to eat plenty of quality
carbohydrates like whole grains, fruit and juice, starchy vegetables like
corn and potatoes, and legumes. Drink lots of fluids, go to bed early,
and taper your riding off. Do not spend the day before the ride moving
your woodpile from one side of your yard to the other just because you
are not riding.
day, plan to have a decent breakfast. Your pre-ride meal should include
fluids and easily digested carbohydrate-rich foods. Some ideal pre-ride
foods include cereal, French toast, bagels, rice, fruit, juice, and yogurt.
Try a smoothie or liquid meal replacement if the jitters keep you from
eating anything solid. In general, the closer it is to start time and
the more nervous you are, the less you should eat.
ride, your nutrition goals are to drink enough fluids to stay hydrated
and get enough carbohydrates down to extend endurance and avoid getting
a "food flat." Plan on consuming 30-60 grams carbohydrate and
1-2 small water bottles (20-40 oz.) per hour. You can eat and drink any
combination of water, sports drink, gels, energy bars, fig bars, etc.
that you like during the ride as long as you meet your carbohydrate and
fluid needs. Sports drinks are formulated to deliver a desirable and well-tolerated
amount of electrolytes and carbohydrates.
early and get on a schedule so that you are drinking regularly- aim for
every 15 minutes. Do not rely on thirst to tell you when to drink. If
you lose just 2% of your body weight as sweat you will not be able to
ride as hard or as long as cyclists who are drinking enough. Sweat rates
vary dramatically from person to person and with ride intensity and weather.
Cooler temperatures that often accompany the Century will result in less
sweating and lower fluid needs than during the heat of the summer.
after the ride, take the time to replenish your glycogen stores and rehydrate.
Although you probably won't be going for any big performance rides right
after the Century, this recovery strategy is most critical earlier in
the season when you're riding frequently and at high intensity. Eat plenty
of carbohydrates and drink until your urine is light colored again. Pretzels,
thick crust pizza, and other salty foods can help you rehydrate by making
you thirsty and delaying urine production. Other recovery food ideas include
a pint of sorbet instead of premium ice cream, fruited yogurt, fruit,
turkey sandwich on a bagel, lemonade, and commercial recovery drinks.
what your goals are for the Century, make sure you feed your body right!
Take the time to maximize your glycogen stores beforehand, make an effort
to meet your fluid and carbohydrate needs during the ride, and refuel
afterwards. These are the cutting edge nutrition strategies that will
get you to the end in style!
MPH RD LD is a nutrition coach in Concord, NH. She helps people figure
out how to eat and drink what they need to perform at their best. You
can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (603) 223-8119.