Our Nutricionist, Inês Almeida, elaborated a post about what we should eat before, during and after training and what to do with the overall eating of an athlete! With no further due, please take a look NUTRITION IN CYCLING NUTRITIONAL FACTS TO IMPROVE PERFORMANCE The importance of nutrition in sport was first recognised by the ancient Olympians and there is no doubt that the physical activity, athletic performance, and recovery from exercise are enhanced by optimal nutrition(1,2). Optimal endurance performance can be achieved through a well-balanced diet that meets the energy needs and incorporates proper timing of nutrients. Therefore, endurance athletes can preserve and increase carbohydrate fuel stores (muscle and liver glycogen) for late-race or high-intensity exercise just by planning their meals(3,4). Below you will find some key points, guidelines and few tips on what to eat more or less to help you fuel your training(3,4). HYDRATION: Proper hydration is needed before, during and after the training or race if you want to maintain blood glucose levels, provide fuel for muscles and decrease the risk of dehydration and hyponatremia. Therefore, it is recommended that you drink 500ml of fluid solution 1 to 2 h before racing. The aim is preventing the loss of more than 2% of body weight during exercise(2,4,10). PRE-TRAINING Carbohydrates are an important fuel source both for training and racing performance of cyclists(5). Therefore, to make sure your stores are fully load: - 3-4 hours before training or racing consume a meal which is high in carbohydrate, that includes food such as rice, potatoes, pasta, grains, cereals, bread, fruit, juices (bearing in mind it takes about 4 hours for carbohydrates to be digested and start being stored as muscle and liver glycogen)(4,6,7). - 30-60 minutes before training or race consume a small meal constituted by carbohydrate and a protein snack (e.g. 50 g of carbohydrate and 5 to 10 g of protein). This serves to increase carbohydrate availability towards the end of the training or race(4). Some suggestions: - 1 banana + handful of nuts; - 195g grapes + handful of nuts; - 1 crepioca (2 tsp tapioca + 1 egg) + 1 banana; - Smoothie: 250ml almond milk + 10g Whey Protein + 1 banana or 150g grapes or 125g berries + 2 tsp oat flakes; DURING TRAINING Training less than 90 minutes: Hydration + Electrolytes Training longer than 90 minutes: Hydration + Carbohydrates Our body can oxidize around 60g of carbohydrate per hour, so it is recommended a carbohydrate intake in the range of 30-60grams per hour. That amount of carbohydrate can be delivered by drinking a 6 – 8% carbohydrate solution (6 – 8 g CHO/100 ml fluid) that should be consumed every 15 – 20 min to sustain blood glucose levels. Fuel-containing drinks are often able to look after all needs of the event (4,6,8,10). However, depending on how far the training or the race goes there may be more opportunity or the need to consume solid carbohydrate choices. Examples of food and drinks that provides around 60grams of carbohydrates (5,8,9) - 1 litre sports drink - 500ml a 600ml of fruit juice - 600 ml cola drink - 2 sports gels - 1.5 sports bars - 3 cereal bars - 3 small or 2 large bananas - 1 chocolate muffin (Typical Portuguese cakes: 2 custard tarts = 2*34 = 68g (Pasteis de Belem); 1 Bolo de arroz = 50g) AFTER TRAINING Typically, you may need to replace fluid (and sodium/salt), carbohydrate and protein. Within 30 minutes: consume Carbohydrate + Protein (aim for a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate with high glycemic index to protein). Several studies show that adding Protein to Carbohydrate after training will promote the recovery of muscle glycogen and attenuate muscle damage (4,6). Some suggestions of Carbohydrate + Protein recovery foods(8): - Recovery sports drinks; - Sandwich including meat or cheese filling; - Chicken and rice - Breakfast cereal + milk and fruit; - Liquid meal replacement; - Sports Bars; Other facts: The ingestion of 6 – 20 grams of essential amino acids before and after the training significantly stimulate muscle protein synthesis(6). Studies have shown that the ingestion of beetroot juice before training enhance endurance performance, because of its high nitrate content. Nitrate can be converted to nitric oxide in the body, which improves the vasodilation of the blood vessels, increase blood flow to working muscles, reducing oxygen cost. Therefore muscular efficiency during submaximal exercise is enhanced(3). In their study, Lansley and colleagues reported that cyclists improved two trial (TT) performance with the supplementation of 500ml beetroot juice (11). These benefits may be enhanced by the addition of caffeine. The consumption of 3-6 mg of caffeine/kg of body weight before training has been shown to enhance performance(3,5). Interestingly, recent findings suggest that de consumption of dark chocolate has similar effects of the consumption of beetroot juice. Patel et al. 2015 reported that de chronic consumption of dark chocolate (40g) increase the bioavailability and bioactivity of nitric oxide (12). Conclusion Planning your meals and/or snacks along with the right time of intake and good hydration will put you on the top of the race/training/competition!!!