Time to train! Now is the time to get back on the saddle and train more seriously for the ride ahead. Establishing healthy eating habits should be as much a part of your training as spinning, climbing, and distance rides. Discovering what foods, supplements, and meal patterns work now, will help optimize results come June. Welcome to the 2013 Ride the Rockies “Ramp Up”!
It is important to remember that you need a fueling plan that includes a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fruits, veggies and fluid. Use the following information and tips as a general guide to create a fueling plan that includes the right balance of foods that work for you. The chart below provides general information for calories burned during one hour of cycling, based on weight.
|Calories Burned in One Hour of Cycling|
|Bicycle Speed||130 lbs||155 lbs||190 lbs|
|Cycling 10-11.9 mph, light effort||350-360||415-425||520-530|
|Cycling 12-13.9 mph, moderate effort||475-485||565-575||700-710|
|Cycling 14-15.9 mph, vigorous effort||590-600||700-710||860-870|
|Cycling 16-19 mph, very fast or racing||710-720||845-855||1040-1050|
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for working muscles and the nutrient most important for cycling. Intake is based on your hours of training per day and your weight, regardless of your gender. Carbohydrate intake can range from:
Moderate-duration and low-intensity
(1-2 hours) – requires 2.5 to 3.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight per day
Moderate to heavy training
(2-3 hours) – requires 3.5 to 4.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight per day
(4-6 hours) – requires 5 to 6 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight per day
For example: A 160 pound rider, training an average of 2 hours per day will need 560 grams of carbohydrate for the entire day. (e.g. 160 x 3.5 = 560 grams of carbohydrate).
With so many carbs to choose from, selecting the foods that will maximize your performance can be a bit overwhelming. The glycemic index (GI) ranks foods by their ability to raise blood sugar compared to a reference carbohydrate. High glycemic index foods are absorbed quickly, while low glycemic foods are absorbed at a slower rate. While both types of carbohydrate turn into glucose when consumed, the most beneficial carbs to consume during cycling are still up for debate. Many researchers feel that carbohydrates consumed pre-ride, 2-4 hours before, should come from low-glycemic index foods, while carbs consumed during exercising should come from high glycemic foods. In a recent study, researchers had riders eat either high or low GI foods, 45 minutes before a 40km time trial. The low-GI group finished the time trial on average three minutes faster than the high GI-group. The study went on to explain that the lower-GI foods lead to increased carbohydrate availability and usage during exercise.
Before the week of the ride, it is important to determine your personal tolerance and what foods work best for you and when. The best time to experiment with pre-exercise and during-exercise eating is during training.
Examples of Carbohydrate Sources (Each serving listed below is ~ 15 grams of Carbohydrate)
|Rapidly Absorbed||Moderately Absorbed||Release Energy Slowly|
|1 1/2 tbsp of raisins||4 oz orange juice||1 medium apple|
|1/4 large bagel||1/3 cup bran cereal||1/2 cup garbanzo beans|
|12 small crackers||1/3 cup pasta||6 inch wheat tortilla|
|1/2 baked potato||4 pieces melba toast||8 oz skim milk|
|1/3 cup white rice (cooked)||1/2 cup cooked oatmeal||1 medium orange|
|8 oz sports drink||1 cup grapes||1/4 cup dried apricots|
|1 tbsp honey||1 small banana||6 oz low fat plain yogurt|
Avoid the “Bonk”
Carbohydrates are stored in the muscle as glycogen and after one to three hours of continuous cycling, these glycogen stores may become depleted. “Bonk” or “Hitting the Wall” occurs when your body has depleted all of its carbohydrate stores and starts to use stored fat as the main source of energy. If you plan to cycle longer than one and a half to two hours on a training ride, consume carbohydrates at the start of the ride. Once you have “hit the wall”, the carbs you consume may be less effective.
In order to avoid running out of energy too quickly and to maximize your body’s glycogen stores, consider the following tips:
Protein is used to repair and rebuild muscle that is damaged during exercise; it is not used as a source of energy. On average, cyclists require 0.6 – 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. For a 160lb rider this would be approximately 95 – 130 grams per day. Most cyclists will not have to make major changes in their diet to meet this requirement. While most people automatically think of meat when discussing protein, milk and other dairy products should be part of a cyclist’s diet as well. Not only are they great sources of protein, many dairy products can improve your immune system and are packed with calcium, vitamin D and potassium. Milk contains both casein (80%) and whey (20%) proteins. Casein is a slow digesting protein that keeps you full longer while assisting w/ fat loss and muscle repair. Whey, on the other hand, is a fast digesting protein, which is why milk is a great choice during or after exercise. Milk is also rich in Leucine, a branched-chain amino acid. It helps prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue after rigorous exercise and encourages the growth of new muscle.
The following are examples of good protein sources:
|8 oz skim milk – 8 grams protein||1 cup low fat yogurt – 12 grams protein|
|1 oz cheese – 8 grams protein||1 cup Greek style yogurt – 20 grams protein|
|1/2 cup kidney beans – 7 grams protein||1/4 cup egg beaters – 6 grams protein|
|4 oz salmon – 22 grams protein||3.5 oz chicken breast – 30 grams protein|
|2 tsp peanut butter – 8 grams protein||4 oz lean ground beef – 28 grams protein|
|3 egg whites – 12 grams protein||1 can (3oz) tuna fish – 22 grams protein|
Dehydration will not only slow down a rider, it can cause serious harm to your body. Since water is primarily lost through sweating, proper hydration while cycling should be a high priority. Each rider sweats differently and outside temperatures fluctuate, so fluid requirements will vary between riders. As a general rule, drink 20 oz of water before the ride; 5 oz every 15 minutes while you ride; and 30 – 40 oz after the ride. As we sweat, we loose great quantities of sodium, so sports drinks are encouraged. Riders who sweat heavily may want to trial a back-mounted water system or salt tablets during training rides, prior to use on Ride The Rockies. Some of the signs of dehydration are: headache, dry mouth, nausea, dark colored urine, and exhaustion.
The recommended diet for a healthy and active individual contains ~ 20% of calories from fat. Although it may be tempting to increase “junk food” intake during your rides, there is no need to supplement your diet with fat. High fat can result in poorly fueled muscles, larger fat cells, and delayed digestion. Cyclists should try to consume at least 0.45 grams of fat per pound of body weight per day. For a 160lb cyclist this would be around 70 – 75 grams per day. Focus on increasing your intake of healthy fats (peanut butter, nuts, seeds, olive oil, salmon/tuna, flaxseed) and decreasing your intake of saturated fats (fried foods, baked/packaged goods, and creamy sauces/spreads).
Fruits and Vegetables
We are often so focused on protein, fluid, and carbohydrates, that fruits and veggies go by the wayside. Not only are fruits and vegetables great sources of carbohydrates and immune building antioxidants, they taste great too. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which increases white blood cell production for fighting infection, and vitamin C has been proven to help repair connective tissue and promote wound healing. Blueberries, cherries, and raspberries contain anthocyanosides – a natural anti-inflammatory and pain reducer. After a long hard training ride, consider making a berry smoothie or trying a glass of cherry juice. One added bonus is that cherries are rich in melatonin, a natural sleep aide – making getting your Z’s that much easier. While training and during the week of the ride, try to consume 5 – 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. As you begin the training process, remember that changing a few daily dietary habits will go a long way in boosting your overall energy level. Start today by incorporating all of the above food groups into your diet. You will maximize your energy stores and make your training rides the best they can be. Best of luck, and get ready for the ride of your life!