Being an endurance athlete is a challenge that extends beyond the asphalt or trails. The daily grind of building strength and endurance is taxing on the body. Nutrition is key. Putting as much thought into how to fuel your body as you do how to train it will lead to more long term success. It seems all of current education about fitness nutrition focuses on explosive cross-fit or high-intensity-interval-training. Those needs are different than for an endurance athlete like a cyclist or marathoner. What both have in common is a sound foundation of quality ingredients.
Day to day nutrition
Athletes need to consider what they put in their bodies every day. The small decisions will add up to powerful results and quick recoveries. Laying the foundation of good fuel will carry you through on race or ride day. Consider adding the superfood Spirulina. Spirulina is a blue-green micro algae. It has an extremely high protein content - unlike many plant sources it is a complete protein containing all of the essential amino acids. This nutrient bomb is being researched for long-haul space flights to Mars and to help with global malnutrition. Densely packed with vitamins and minerals and low on calories, it is an asset for female athletes to have in their cupboard. It, both, boosts your nutrition and speeds up recovery time. It can be found in supplements, in boosters and in foods. Its flexibility makes Spirulina a simple way to add dense nutrition.
To fuel any long distance ride you want a consistent energy source - generally in easily absorbed carbohydrates, as well as some protein and electrolytes. Your pre-ride meal is a good base that can fuel your body for a ride for about an hour. After that time it is recommended to have 30-60g of carbs by the American College of Sports Medicine. It is best to eat every 15-20 minutes in small amounts. Typically this is done by munching on gummies or sucking back a gel.
Clif Shot Raspberry
It is key to hydrate while you eat. Some electrolyte gels or gummies don’t give their best bang for their buck unless consumed with water. Make sure you are drinking three to eight ounces of water every 15-20 minutes.Some secret tips from seasoned vets include loading up all your gels in a small bottle like marathoners use and tuck it in your jersey so your hands don’t get sticky or dumping your gels into your water. Check out CLIF Shots.Some riders choose to avoid gels altogether and opt for gummies like CLIF Bloks. Each flavour serves a different purpose so ensure you check out the ingredients for the combination of carbs, electrolytes and caffeine that works for you.
CLIF Blok Tropical Punch with Caffeine
Despite the candy like taste of some of the gels and gummies some athletes prefer something more substantial in their tummies. There are plenty of energy bars out there and they are not all created equal. Check out the ingredients and choose one that is lower in fat and protein. You may also want to check the fibre. Some rides can be disastrous if suddenly there is more fibre than your body is used to. Save the higher in fat and protein bars for after your race.
I can not resist a post ride snack. It is a battle to make a wise decision. In the first 30-45 minutes hydration and a quick carb hit is best. Something like a CLIF Luna Bar fits the bill to get your energy back. Wait to heed the call of the post-fondo meal - focusing on protein - hit the burger or pulled pork after a short recovery period. Recovery days should focus on anti-inflammatory foods like Maca and protein.