For many years I have been an advocate of treating your body in the best possible manner to ensure you are as healthy as possible; thus returning increased performance gains and an increase in general health. I pretty much make all my energy products, snacks and meals at home. I very rarely ever used to have energy drink and when I did it would be diluted organic and local apple juice with a pinch of salt. This works well in almost every situation, except when you are pushing to your absolute limits…
The most amount of energy that we can digest in one hour is around 90 grams of carbohydrate – made up of 60g glucose/maltodextrin/starch and 30g fructose. If you buy processed foods, it can be quite difficult to identify which source of carbs your food falls into, especially given that fruit doesn’t exclusively contain fructose and manufacturers aren’t always forthcoming about quantities of individual ingredients anyway – this might cause you confusion if you are planning on eating as well as drinking your energy intake. The solution: make your own.
If you are training at a high intensity, racing or at the end of a long day in the saddle (such as a sportive or Gran Fondo), focusing all of your efforts on drinking your intake might be wise. You don’t need to buy expensive formulas, you can easily and cheaply make your own. Buy bulk non-GMO maltodextrin and fructose and then simply mix the desired amounts together, knowing that anything above the 60/30g ratio might cause digestive distress. Add a pinch of salt for electrolytes. If you are training for an hour, you will have one 60/30g mix – simple!
At the lower intensities, I would still try to avoid a large amount of carbohydrate intake and focus on promoting fat utilisation as fuel, and if you are in for a longer day on the bike, I would stick to more solid foods first – but the main focus is to experiment beforehand in training. Definitely do not turn up on race day having not perfected your nutritional plan.
Timing is one of the other most important factors to fuelling your body; too late and you might not have the energy to produce the effort, too soon and you might have an energy crash midway through your training or race. Again, testing this out is key and training is the perfect time!
Start by having a carbohydrate rich meal three hours before you get on the bike. This might be as simple as 100g (more or less depending on how much work you will do) of oats, mixed with a fruit smoothie – you could leave it in the fridge overnight and have epic overnight oats (heat it up on a cold day).
As you get closer to getting on your bike, you might want something similar to a solid energy food you would eat on the bike; energy ball, flapjack, oat bar, these are all good and will be unlikely to spike your energy too much that you see a crash at the wrong time. If you are a coffee drinker, time your coffee perfectly to receive the best caffeine boost at the right time – again, we want to avoid any crashes.
While many people say not to eat or drink in the first hour of training, and in some circumstances I do agree, you might experiment during your high intensity sessions to ensure you put the best effort in. After all, your main focus is hitting power numbers, why would you want to hinder that by not being adequately fuelled?
Next time you train, have a go! Remember your Pav Juice… 😉
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