WHY CARBOHYDRATES ARE IMPORTANT
Have you ever completed a training session and felt empty by the end? Or, that with every pedal stroke or stride you are not moving forward at the speed you would like?
These experiences can often be explained by an empty fuel tank. Your car cannot run without fuel and similarly, your body cannot either. Carbohydrate sources eaten (e.g., bread, oats, rice, bananas) are mainly stored in the liver and muscle as glycogen. Glucose is then released from the muscle (and liver) during high intensity exercise to provide the body with direct fuel.
The amount of carbohydrate your body requires is dependent on 3 factors 1) training goal 2) intensity and 3) the duration of the session. Nutrition requirements look different depending on your session, riding or running for 30 minutes chatting to a friend compared with struggling to catch a breath at high intensities or when an exercise bout lasts for 2-3 hours. Regular fueling prior to, during and after training can support training intensity and training adaptation, so getting it right is important.
WHEN TO EAT
Before: Eating a carb meal or snack 1-3 h prior to a training session (see below examples) will help ‘top up’ the glucose stores. Finding what time frame works for you to avoid gastrointestinal distress is often a trial-and-error process.
During: When exercising for less than 60 min, you will likely get through the training session without requiring food during training. For longer training sessions >60 min, consuming food or carb containing fluids every 20-30 min (e.g., 20-30g carbs) will support training intensity.
WHAT TO EAT
Nutrition does not need to be “fancy”, keep it simple. For most, fueling during riding is much less challenging than during running. However, consider training your gut like training your muscles, the first session you complete can often induce muscle soreness, and similarly the first time you consume food during training it can induce gut distress. The gut will adapt over time to the consistent fueling and become more tolerant. Fueling can be in the form of solid food (e.g., bread, banana) or fluid (e.g., smoothie, sports drink).
- Muesli /oats with fresh fruit
- (Fruit) yoghurt with fresh fruit
- Smoothie - see recipe below.
- Toast with spread
- Fresh juices
- Rice or pasta based dish
Snacks during training:
- Dried fruit e.g., dried apricots, sultanas, dates
- Sandwich or pikelet with spreads (jam, honey)
- Muesli bar
- Sports drink e.g., Gatorade.
TAKE HOME MESSAGES:
- Fueling with carbs before, during and after training will support your training intensity and adaptation.
- Nutrition does not need to be “fancy”, keep it simple.
- Tolerance of food or fluids around training can improve over time, so start small and build up.
SMOOTHIE RECIPE FOR YOU TO TRY:
Meet Dr Jill Leckey our first Fondo Industry Insider
Performance Nutrition Support for the Australian Cycling Team
Dr Jill Leckey is the performance nutritionist for the Australian Cycling Team. Jill focuses on providing riders with evidence-based nutrition support to maximise training adaptation, race day nutrition and promote immune function. Jill has a specific interest in carbohydrate and fat metabolism and previously completed a PhD exploring different exercise-nutrient interactions and the effect on substrate metabolism and performance. Jill uses this knowledge in the daily training environment with the Australian Cycling Team and monitors rider responses regularly to various nutritional interventions.