Introduction 100-mile race nutrition
Nutrition in endurance sports has always been a problem for nutritionists. It was no different for cycling.
How to approach the subject in order to guarantee you optimal conditions in every stage of the race? As you know, the longer the distance the bigger the problem.
How to distribute carbohydrates over miles? How to irrigate on the course? How to solve the problem with the amount of fluids? What fluids to turn on before, during, and after the race? When to turn on caffeine? How do I supplement myself before the race? Should I switch on any supplements for a longer period before the race? How do I protect myself from gastrointestinal problems?
As you can see, a lot of problems. It’s a pity to delay, so let’s get going!
I will describe everything using the example of a one-stage race over an average distance of 100 miles. If we wanted to delve into the process of dietary preparation in multi-stage races, we would enter a field so subjective that the theory would not always have its basis in very individual issues for racers.
Okay, let’s get back to this one-stage race of 100 miles. Let’s take that you are an ambitious young cyclist, who is already in the cycling world for some time and are preparing for the race himself.
First of all, you should analyze the race route and plan a detailed strategy.
You must know perfectly well where on the route there will be a steep uphill stretch or where he wants to fight for higher places increasing the pace. However, let’s deal with strictly nutritional and supplemental issues.
In order to approach the subject in detail, you need to plan everything in time. Let’s take a period of 4 weeks before the competition.
3-4 weeks to the competition
You should test the tolerance of the products you will consume on the race course during the last longer training sessions:
- Specific energy gels enriched with ergogenic substances (beta alanine, caffeine) or minerals and vitamins (B vitamins, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium),
- Isotonic drinks,
- Electrolyte tablets,
- Forms of caffeine administration before the competition – whether synthetic caffeine (supplements) or natural caffeine (e.g. espresso) or both,
- Dose of caffeine tolerated (recommended 3-6mg / kg body weight) and time of administration (e.g. a few minutes before the start)
All this testing of specific products is to test how our body will react to the supply and dosage in order to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal problems. None of us would like to be excluded from the race by indigestion after months of preparation by the fact that the taste of grape energy gel causes stomach revolutions .
At all times you should take care of the appropriate caloric supply, the need for minerals, vitamins and body hydration:
- Availability of energy (EA) – should be about 45 kcal / kg FFM (Free Fat Mass) / day,
- The carbohydrates in the diet should make up the vast majority and be at about 5-12g / kg body weight,
- Protein in the diet should constitute 10-30% of the total energy supply – about 1.2 – 1.4g /kg body weight,
- Fat should make up the rest of the calories in the diet. Its main sources should be of plant origin. However, fat should not be limited to less than 20% of total energy supply. A longer period in which we would consume such amounts of fat would result in a reduction in the absorption of vitamins and an insufficient supply of essential unsaturated fatty acids.
The only exception to this is the short period before the competition or charging with carbohydrates, where gastrointestinal comfort and the goal – a high carbohydrate intake – are the most important.
- To take care of the deficiency of vitamins and minerals and to compensate for any existing deficiencies,
- Hydration maintenance at a level – depending on the body weight of our competitor, the level of liquid consumed by you should be between 2 and 3.5l per day.
A possible supplementation, which will require the receptors or cells to be saturated with an ergogenic substance, will be worth considering:
- Beta allanine saturation of cells usually occurs after 3-4 weeks. It will result in an improvement of high intensity exercise capacity and a duration of 30 – 240 seconds. Beta alanina can be used in long climbs or in very intense duels at the end of the race. In these situations we will feel strong burning of muscles, and saturated cells thanks to beta allanine supplementation will delay the occurrence of fatigue and improve our endurance. The recommended dosage is 3-6g per day and a possible breakdown of the dosage into smaller portions due to the possibility of experiencing a side effect, which is the itching of the face and ears.
- Beet juice – can be a good solution for you. Consumption of beetroot juice increases the concentration of nitrites in the blood, which is an ergogenic effect in the form of lowering oxygen costs during submaximum effort. Consumption of beetroot juice 14 days before the competition will ensure proper accumulation of nitrite and improve our performance, just like beta alanine at the race end or during a steep uphill stretch.
Throughout this period, take care of proper muscle regeneration, which should become a kind of routine. The most important aspect, and in fact the easiest one, is to take care of the length and quality of sleep. You should sleep 7-8 hours a day. Other forms of regeneration are regular visits to the physiotherapist, massages, muscle rolls, etc.
One week to competition
A week before the competition, you should continue to eat properly and balanced nutrition and hydration.
Any possible shortages of minerals and vitamins should be compensated for.
You should already know what specific supplements you will use before the start and during the race. It is best for you to have them already at hand. What you will eat before and during the race and what you will be hydrated with.
An important aspect will also be how you will plan his trainings a week before the competition.
1-2 days to the competition
The last intensive training should take place 48 hours before the competition. At the end of the training you should already start charging with carbohydrates to ensure the highest possible amount of muscle glycogen.
The amount of muscle glycogen in our body is between 200 and 300g, however, under the influence of training and ongoing adaptations this amount can increase and reach up to 600g.
Loading with carbohydrates can result in an increase in body weight of up to 2 kg, but at the same time allows to maintain a better pace during efforts lasting more than 90 minutes (about 20%).
The stage of carbohydrate charging should start immediately after the training and continue until the competition.
During carbohydrate charging it is recommended to consume low-protein, low-fat and, above all, low-fibre products.
Such products eliminate the risk of gastrointestinal problems.
You should consume 10-12g of carbohydrates / kg of body weight / day to optimize the rate of glycogen resynthesis and ensure the largest possible reserve of energy to start.
Another important aspect is not to forget about the amount of fluids consumed.
The macronutrient balance on a carbohydrate charging day should look more or less like this:
- Carbohydrates 75-80%
- Protein 15%
- Fat 5-10%
- Fibre – not more than 10g
A sample meal:
- Light cottage cheese / almond milk / cow’s milk
- Honey / maple syrup
- Strawberry jam/jam
- Oatmeal mixed with breakfast cereals
- Fresh fruit / dried fruit
- Nuts / almonds / peanut butter / almond butter
- Isotonic drink
24 hours before the start you should rest and do not perform unnecessary activities. Go to sleep earlier and take care of a deep sleep.
This most important day should be kept to the limit. Everyone remembers their first start over a longer distance and the circumstances that accompanied it. These estimated plans, which were changing anyway under the influence of the moment, had to be modified. “I’ll get up at 5 a.m. After 30 minutes I’ll have breakfast – soya milk cereal and fruit.”
You should sleep 7-8 hours on competition day. When you wake up, you will have a carbohydrate-rich breakfast. The level of carbohydrates in breakfast should be around 1 – 4g of carbohydrates per kg of body weight, depending on how much time you have to start the competition.
If it is an hour before the start, it should be 1g per kg of body weight, and if 4 hours is 4g per kg of body weight.
Protein in a meal should be quickly assimilated e.g. protein feed, eggs, milk (depending on the tolerance) and there was about 20-30g.
The shorter the time to start the fat should be as little as possible. However, if you decide to add fats to your meal, let it be of vegetable origin, e.g. avocado or nuts.
A sample meal:
Protein cakes with fresh fruit and maple syrup,
Protein-based cocktail with fruit and honey,
Milk with flakes and protein conditioner.
After breakfast you should be interested in the subject of caffeine can do it this way:
After breakfast you drink espresso (60-100mg of caffeine) + 10-15 minutes before the start you drink a shot of caffeine (~200mg), after 1 hour of takeoff, caffeine is added (powder or a ready-made beverage containing caffeine) to the drink and sipped with small teaspoons (~100mg).
30 minutes before the start, you should still consume the supplements you have been taking for the last 4 weeks, i.e. beta alanine and beet juice (here also a concentrated shot is better than a bottle of juice).
10-15 minutes before the start you should consume caffeine – as above.
You took off.
During the race you should pay special attention to hydration. The key here will be to take care of the availability of fluids. Dehydration during the race over a longer distance is inevitable, so the purpose of consuming fluids on the route is to postpone it as late as possible. During the preparations our competitor should develop a habit of frequently reaching for fluids and consuming them in small sips. One-time consumption of fluids should not exceed 300-400ml, this may manifest itself as a violent ailment of the digestive system. The longer the competition lasts, the more you should consume fluids enriched not only with carbohydrates but also with minerals such as sodium (which you lose with sweat) and ergogenic substances such as caffeine.
The goal of yours is to have constant access to fluids and if you take care of it he should concentrate on drinking every 10 minutes. In amateur competitions there is often a problem with this, so you should focus on consuming about 0.4 – 0.7l per hour of the competition.
Liquids should not be too cold to cause stomach cramps. It is also important that you take fluids in your favorite taste, which will provide mental comfort.
High temperature will require you to take more fluids due to increased sweating. Then the fluids consumed should be even about 1.0l per hour of competition.
After each hour of the competition you should start consuming carbohydrates. For efforts lasting more than 2.5 hours, the recommendation for you is about 60-90g carbohydrates, and it should be 60g glucose or a mixture of 60g glucose and 30g fructose. Consumption of more than 60g of glucose causes gastrointestinal complaints.
Eating on the road should take into account the carbohydrate content of drinks! Do not allow too much strain on the stomach.
Consuming 60g of carbohydrates per hour gives us about 360g of carbohydrates in 6 hours.
Meals should be planned and have more prepared than planned due to the possibility of unforeseen situations – losing the bag, etc.
The food on the route should be as easy to transport as possible and be dense in calories.
You should base your nutrition on carbohydrate supplements, isotonic drinks, protein supplements, energy gels, dried fruits, e.g. dates, chocolate, bananas, previously prepared rice balls with honey or oat biscuits based on protein supplements, honey or syrups.
You should stick to the relation according to which the food consumed should be in the middle and final phase more solid than at the beginning of the race.
Apart from consuming fluids and food you should not forget about supplementation. Caffeine taken before the start will not work forever and its half-life depending on the person is estimated at 3.5 hours. Therefore the addition of caffeine to fluids or energy gels will allow you to continue to feel the benefits of this substance. In the last miles you can take beta alanine, either in the form of a gel or a fluid additive, which will help you in the final stage of the fight for a higher place. It is also extremely important to ensure the supply of electrolytes, which is recommended to be implemented after 2 hours of the competition and supplemented, if possible, with suction tablets and isotonic drinks.
When you take care of all these recommendations, leaving the bike at the finish line will not be so exhausting ☺.
Collecting everything in a pill, the final stages of preparation should be focused on mapping the course of the competition – of course, when our body composition is suitable for the preparation stage. With each subsequent training, we should test various supplements, their forms of administration, and dosage. Apart from the supplements, we should also know how our body reacts to feeding on the route. What products are beneficial to us, their amount, and the time of administration? In short, the last stage of preparation should give a picture of what we will benefit from during the race.
Before we move on to the nutritional content, we should focus on the details and additives that can give us a little better performance – beet juice, beta alanine.
Moving on to the last days before the competition we should focus on rest, to build up our muscle glycogen reserves and on eating and consuming fluids.
On the day of the competition, you should take care of a nutritious breakfast rich in easily absorbed protein and carbohydrates, take the first dose of caffeine and other supplements.
During the race, special attention should be paid to watering the body (0.4-0.7l / hour of the competition) and taking carbohydrates (60-90g). In terms of nutrition, the race day must be planned to perfection. The competitor must be prepared to consume food, liquids, and supplements at specific times. Taking care of all these aspects will allow us to use the full potential of our body developed during the preparation phase.