The food we eat provides our bodies with the nutrients it needs to support basic functions and good health. For optimal training, we need a healthy balanced diet with adequate energy from protein, carbohydrate and fat. Good nutrition will support preparation, participation and recovery from exercise, allowing adaptation and improvement which will in turn help us to reach our goals.
We are all individual, nutrient intakes should be tailored to each cyclist’s individual requirements and tolerances. The following article gives a general overview of nutritional recommendations to support sport and exercise and should be adapted to meet individual requirements.
60-70% total energy intake should be from carbohydrate, with 5-7g/kg body weight/day for cyclists training 60-90 minutes or less per day or training at low intensity. Intake should increase to 7-10g/kg body weight/day for cyclists training for 90-120 minutes or more per day.
Carbohydrate is converted to glucose and stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver.
- As muscle glycogen stores deplete so does capacity for high intensity activity, eventually leading to exhaustion.
- Starting with a high muscle glycogen content is known to postpone fatigue by up to 20% in endurance events lasting more than 90 minutes.
- High Glycaemic Index (GI) foods such as sweets and sugary drinks cause a rapid increase but fast decline in blood glucose and therefore energy.
- Low GI foods such as pasta and oats cause a slower but longer lasting blood sugar increase and therefore energy.