Whether you're cycling for fitness or for a competition, don't let those hard earned miles go to waste by having a poor nutritional strategy. Your nutrition will determine how you perform in the saddle; get it right and you can manage fatigue, adapt, and increase performance.
Top Tip 1: Test and develop your strategy, before you race!
Testing your nutrition strategies in training is essential; especially when working towards a race.
Top Tip 2: The importance of morning fuel
Your breakfast is the most important meal you consume in the day, and will prepare you for your ride. Consume a carbohydrate-based breakfast with normal breakfast foods e.g. toast, cereals, porridge etc. Keep this consistent with what works for you. A change in pre-training (or race) foods can cause stomach upset.
Top Tip 3: Get confident refueling on-the-go
Refueling on the bike is key; so get confident at consuming food and fluid whilst cycling. A good strategy is to consume solid foods (e.g Science in Sport GO Energy Bars) during flat, less intense parts of the ride; then use gels (e.g Science in Sport GO Isotonic Gels) during steeper, higher intensity sections.
Top Tip 4: Consider your carbohydrate intake
For rides under 90 minutes, you should have enough carbohydrate stores in your body; providing you have had a carbohydrate rich breakfast and dinner the night before. For rides over 90 minutes, aim to take in 60g of carbohydrate per hour (e.g 1x SiS GO Isotonic Energy Gel & 500ml SiS GO Electrolyte) during exercise, to prevent fully depleting your carbohydrate stores.
Top Tip 5: Carbohydrate loading
When training for a race or a long ride, carbohydrate loading is a nutritional strategy used by professionals to increase carbohydrate stores that are used as fuel during your rides. This is usually done 48 hours prior to the race/ride. Increase your carbohydrate intake at meal times; including foods such as rice, potatoes, pasta and cereals; also aim to add carbohydrate snacks in-between, such as cereal bars, fruit, or carbohydrate drinks such as Science in Sport GO Energy.
Top Tip 6: Consider your sweat rate
How much you sweat will dictate how much fluid you need to take-in. Aim to not lose any more than 2-3 percent of your body mass to maintain hydration and be ready to train the next day. Taking on 500ml-1000ml of fluid per hour is usually sufficient to prevent this.
Event Day Nutrition Strategy
Have a carbohydrate based meal 2-3 hours before the race; as stores can decrease over night. Include normal foods that you're accustomed to, as your pre-ride meal.
Drink 500ml-1000ml of fluid in the build up to the race. Don't drink just water, SiS GO Electrolyte or Science in Sport GO Hydro Tablets can increase fluid absobtion and retention; meaning there will be less stops for the toilet during the race.
A snack like a SiS GO Energy bar 30 minutes before starting can load an extra 25 grams of carbohydrate to be used as fuel. For shorter rides (under 90 minutes), a Science in Sport GO+ Caffiene Gel can provide extra mental stimulation.
During the event
Shorter Rides (under 90 minutes)
You should have sufficient carbohydrate stores from pre-event consumption; so focus on hydration and electrolyte intake. Aim to take in 500ml-1000ml of fluid per hour throughout your ride. Science in Sport GO Hydro Tablets are ideal to take during shorter rides; containing 30 mmol/L of Sodium, which will increase hydration through fluid absorption and retention.
Longer Rides (over 90 minutes)
Both hydration and carbohydrate intake will dictate your performance. Consume 500ml-1000ml of fluid per hour depending on sweat rate and conditions. After 30 minutes on the bike, start taking in carbohydrate. This should hit 60g of carbohydrate per hour. Here’s an example: 1* 500ml SiS GO Electrolyte & 1* SiS GO Isotonic Energy gel (per hour).
Post event or training session
Your metabolism stays lifted for 30 minutes post-exercise, so it's important to replace carbohydrates and provide protein and electrolytes within this time.
Science in Sport REGO Rapid Recovery provides the body with 23g of carbohydrate, 20g of protein and 1 gram of salt; which is what the body needs to adapt after training and competition. Don't forget about your hydration; some people can lose up to 2 liters of fluid per hour; so try to replace this.
Aim to get a similar amount of sleep each night throughout training and competition periods. Science in Sport Overnight Protein can help you hit your protein intake goals of 20-25g of protein every 3-4 hours as it slowly releases protein to feed a steady stream of amino acids as you sleep.