Eat to go faster

Sports Nutrition, January 01, 2018

In our quest to keep the weight off many of us make a fundamental error that directly affects our riding experience. Often we try not to eat too much on the bike, thinking that this will help us in our weight loss. At The Cycling Gym we would advocate the opposite approach, eat on the bike to fuel your riding and watch what you eat afterwards.

There are many stories of how cycling has transformed people’s lives - from couch potato to cyclist extraordinaire. Many of us are riding to stay healthy and keep the weight off, which are great goals. But, in our quest to keep the weight off many of us make a fundamental error that directly affects our riding experience. Often we try not to eat too much on the bike, thinking that this will help us in our weight loss. At The Cycling Gym we would advocate the opposite approach, eat on the bike to fuel your riding and watch what you eat afterwards.

We use the term fuelling rather than nutrition because that is really what you are doing - putting gas into your tank. The more fuel you can put into your tank and burn the better your riding will be. Pay attention to getting in more calories while out on the bike and you will notice a significant difference in how you feel towards the latter parts of the day.

It used to be thought that athletes could only take in about 240 calories per hour. We now know that the body can in fact take in upwards of 300 calories per hour. Keep in mind that each person is different and your fuelling strategy needs to be personalized and practiced. You don’t necessarily need 300 calories per hour, but one gel per hour at 75 calories isn’t enough. At the gym we recommend people use a high calorie drink mix, where you are getting about 300 calories in a water bottle. This makes fuelling very easy - a bottle an hour and you’re done (stash a couple of baggies in your pocket to refuel at the rest stops). Any combination of snacks and drink will work, it is just a matter of sorting out what works best for you.

With this in mind it is essential that you practice your fuelling strategy in your training. In this way you can test out the products you are using in a variety of conditions (think hot and cold days) and train your stomach to get comfortable taking in the calories. On race day you don’t want to suddenly start pounding the calories, when on all your other rides you barely ate, as it can often lead to gastric discomfort and bloating.

Eat more while out on the bike and you’ll feel better while riding. You will also notice that you don’t finish each ride famished, wanting to pound the biggest plate of pasta you can find. Practice and hone your fuelling strategy and it will help you ride better than you expect come your big event.