In this PowerBar nutrition guide for cyclists we learn more about the three principles of sports nutrition as well as understanding why getting your nutrition right is a key part of your cycle training arsenal.
Why is sports nutrition so important?
If you wish to keep up the pace and finish strongly in your sporting pursuits it's absolutely essential to supply your body with the right amount of fluid and nutrients. A healthy diet that caters to your daily needs will provide you with a solid foundation to achieve your goals. If you combine this with a focused sports nutrition strategy before, during and after your training, you'll give yourself the best chance of performing at optimum levels.
The 3 principles of sports nutrition
The three most important principles of sports nutrition for endurance athletes are:
Dehydration is a major reason why you may experience fatigue when taking part in any physical activity. To combat this, follow these three simple steps:
- When you start any sporting activity, make sure you are well hydrated.
- When you are running or cycling, always ensure that you drink at regular intervals.
- When your exercise session comes to a close, make sure you give yourself the best chance of recovering by re-hydrating.
Isotonic sports drinks - how do they work?
Isotonic sports drinks (carbohydrates-electrolyte solutions, with e.g. C2MAX*) are the choice for most athletes. They have the same particle density (osmolality) as blood plasma and are therefore rapidly emptied from the gut, which quickly replace fluids lost by sweating and maintain hydration during prolonged exercise.
PowerBar ISOACTIVE and 5 Electrolytes sports drinks
PowerBar IsoActive and PowerBar 5 Electrolytes are designed to provide the maximum rate of hydration. They provide a carbohydrate-electrolyte solution that leaves you refreshed and helps maintain your endurance.
When we take part in any kind of physical activity we require energy. Carbohydrates are the number one source of fuel for endurance activities and can be stored in the form of glycogen in our liver and also in muscles. This source of energy is easily available for our working muscles.
It is always recommended that you 'stock up' your energy tanks if you wish to get an idea of what your maximum performance levels are. As a rule for pre-event meals, you should eat a low-fat, carbohydrate-rich meal that is low in fibre and easy to digest 3-4 hours before your exercise (e.g. pasta with low-fat tomato sauce, cold or hot cereal with banana, honey and low-fat yoghurt.
In the last hour leading up to a ride have a carbohydrate snack (for example an Energize Bar) and fluid for the optimal preparation.
During prolonged endurance activities the optimal fluid and carbohydrate intake depends on the duration and intensity of exercise and must be tailored individually to fit with the tolerance of the athlete.
After any intense form of exercise, it's essential that you provide yourself with ample time to recover. This is especially true during any periods of heavy training and anytime you have multiple training sessions in the day.
It’s important that you give your body the right nutrients and the right amounts directly after exercise. The body needs:
- Carbohydrates to refill its glycogen stores
- High-quality protein to repair the damaged muscle tissue and to build new muscle tissue
- Fluid and electrolytes (especially sodium) for efficient rehydration.
As soon as you finish training you should supply your body with a balance of protein and carbohydrates as well as consume sufficient fluids. This is when a recovery drink such as PowerBar Natural Protein is invaluable as it has been designed to be ingested immediately after exercise. To optimize the muscle glycogen stores this should be followed by carbohydrate-rich meals as increasing the total amount of carbs consumed after exercise is the most important factor for long-term recovery.