You don’t do the same training each day, so why fuel each ride in the same way? Whether it’s gentle base miles or a demanding interval session, performance nutritionist Annie Simpson explains how to fine tune your fuelling regime:
To get the most out of a short, tough interval session you must be nutritionally prepared before you start - no engine can run on empty. Ideally, you should consume a meal containing 50% carbohydrates two-to-three hours before the start. High intensity interval sessions deplete your carbohydrates stores pretty quickly and they’re a sweaty business too - having a 500ml bottle of OTE Energy Drink to sip on during the session will help to replenish your carbohydrate stores, as well as replacing the fluid and salts lost during your time in the hurt locker. Topping up these stores during the session will also mean you’re less depleted ahead of your next day’s training. Having a recovery shake within 30 minutes of an interval session is the best way to kick start the recovery process.
If you’re riding base miles you’ll need to stay on top of your nutrition for long periods of time. Losing as little of 2% of your body weight through dehydration can negatively affect your performance and concentration, so aim to drink 500ml of fluid per hour for however long you ride. For rides over 90 minutes the rule of thumb is to consume 40-60g of carbohydrates per hour, this could be from an energy bar or a 500ml bottle of energy drink, and the fuelling process needs to start as soon as you leave home. Finally, make sure you finish your long ride with a recovery drink to help your muscles recover and adapt from the session.
You won’t be able to kick it on climbs unless you’ve paid attention to your diet before you start out. Carbohydrates play an important role in fuelling hill climb sessions both indoors and out. The Atom’s preloaded climbs - like Mont Ventoux or Alpe d'Huez - require some pretty high-intensity climbing for long periods of time (around 90 minutes to two-hours for Ventoux). For rides like these it’s important have a higher carbohydrate meal - a bowl of muesli, pasta or toast - two to three hours before the session. During the ride you should aim to consume 40-60g of carbohydrates per hour. Out on the road, when you fuel and how you fuel are also important for hill training. Time it so that you eat on the flat or the descents, and use energy drinks and energy gels rather than solid food – try chewing a bar when you’re grinding up a hill panting for breath and you’ll see why. Always consume a recovery drink within 30 minutes of finishing a tough hill climb session too.
Recovery rides are typically low intensity and short duration, so nutrition doesn’t play such a key role. However, it’s still important to eat before you ride - a 50% carbohydrate meal a couple of hours before you roll out should suffice. If the session is under 90 minutes, fuelling isn’t necessary but do stay focused on your hydration. These rides are great for getting into the habit of drinking little and often - take a sip every 20 minutes or so - and using an electrolyte drink containing sodium, potassium and magnesium helps to hydrate you better than water alone. (Try dissolving one OTE Hydro Tab in 500ml water.) Post ride a recovery drink isn’t necessary, just make sure you get back into your normal, healthy, balanced meal pattern straight away.
Annie Simpson is a performance nutritionist at OTE Sports. For more information on OTE Sports and their range of sports nutrition and healthy snacks visit OTE Sports.