Here’s how to fuel up for the Paluma Push.
Nutrition doesn’t need to be confusing.
By Richard Bennett Published on 02/20/2020 · 2:48 PM UTC+10
It seems like nothing can stir people up into an evangelical frenzy quite like nutrition. Everyone is so quick to preach about the latest trend/diet/strategy and how that tasty treat you’re eating is literally killing you. It’s even worse if you search the internet, with thousands of contradicting and confusing views on ‘how to do it right’. But fear not, we’ve put together a list of helpful beginner tips that will get you on the right track to fuelling properly for your big day out, whether it's a big comp or just riding for fun.
The day before
So you’ve done the training, got the latest kit and you’re ready for a long day out in the saddle. With this in mind it’s easy to think that you need to stuff your face with pasta, bread, cereal and any other carb you can find before the big day. You don't have to go overboard on this, so instead focus on eating normal, healthy meals and pay particular attention to your hydration. Try to finish your evening meal a few hours before you go to bed, helping to avoid any disturbances to your sleep.
The morning of your big day
With a bit of luck you’ll have slept the deep sleep of champions, with dreams of riding success. But it's more likely that you’ll have had a rubbish night’s sleep because you’re nervous for the big day. Don’t worry about this though; it’s common and we’ve all been there, so suck it up and get some tasty breakfast down you. This doesn’t have to be a mountain of cereal/bread/pasta. Try something like a bowl of porridge with some nuts, raisins and pumpkin seeds sprinkled on. If you have a sweet tooth, honey is a great addition. Porridge is a slow release carb, so it will keep you fuelled for longer, with the nuts and seeds adding some healthy protein and fat.
Aim to have finished your breakfast at least two hours before your ride.
Don’t forget about hydration – try to sip on at least 500ml of water. If possible, aim to have finished your breakfast at least two hours before your ride.
Fuelling for your ride
Your body can only store so much energy as fuel, so unless you’re some kind of highly-tuned pro roadie, at some point you will need to eat on your ride to avoid running out of energy. Carbs are king and your body can consume roughly 60g per hour, so if you’re riding anywhere over three hours, it’s a good idea to start eating within the first hour of riding. This can be in the form of energy bars, gels and energy drinks, which all have clear labelling regarding their carbohydrate content to help you work out how much you need per hour. Jelly sweets, cereal bars or jam sandwiches are a great alternative too.
Avoid only eating and drinking when you’re desperate, as it can be too late.
Another tip is to start on solids and work your way to liquid by the end of the ride, helping to avoid stomach issues. Hydration, once again, must not be forgotten. Depending on the temperature, 500-1000ml per hour works for most people. Adding electrolytes to your drink can also aid hydration, but make sure you try these out before the big day.
Setting an alarm for every 15 minutes on a watch or ride computer is a good way to keep on top of fluid intake. Remember, you’re not fuelling for now but for an hour later, so try to avoid only eating and drinking when you’re desperate, as it can be too late.
If you’ve fuelled correctly during your ride, you should finish feeling hungry, but not ravenous. At the same time, some people often don’t feel like eating anything straight after a tough ride. While this won’t kill you, you are missing out on an important recovery window. So instead of waiting for your evening meal, try consuming a snack that contains around 20g of protein and some carbs. This will help your body start the recovery process straight away and help prevent those sore muscles the next day.
A cheap way of doing this is with milk, or even better chocolate milk, as it contains roughly the right amount of protein, carbs and fluid to begin that important recovery process. Aim to drink a glass in the first 20 minutes after your ride; it’s super tasty and your muscles will thank you.
This one’s easy; just try to have a healthy, balanced meal to aid your recovery. But don’t forget to treat yourself as you’ve earned it.