by Bill Bejeck
We are in that time of year when there is some great metric and full
century rides being offered throughout our region. With that in mind,
this month we are going to discuss carbohydrates and their role as fuel
for the cyclist. We will cover 3 specific time frames, regarding
carbohydrate intake. In particular- pre-ride carbs, carbs during the
ride, and post ride carbs.
Eating before you ride is an important component of your
performance and how much you enjoy your ride. The questions of when to
eat and how much are the questions that most cyclists want to know. If
you were going out for a short ride (less than 1 hour), then a Power bar
or Cliff bar pre-ride would be fine. What to eat before those long
training rides? Trial and error will tell what works for you, a good
dose of carbs about 3 hours before you ride (100-200grams of
carbohydrate 3D 400-800 calories of carbohydrates) Try to stick with
foods that are easily digested and not high in fat (fat slows the
digestive process). Bananas, bagels, waffles, oatmeal, pasta, rice, and
potatoes are some examples. Also, eating a high carbohydrate diet for
several days prior to your event will allow you to maximize your muscle
glycogen stores and help to hold off fatigue during your event.
During the Ride
If you riding for more than an hour, replacing carbs while you ride
is essential. That is easily accomplished with the sports drinks
available today. Make sure that you continually drink during the ride.
If you bonk, it is too late, no matter how much you drink. A good rule
of thumb is to make sure you are going though about 1 water bottle
every 20 miles or so. Take small sips on a regular basis, about every
10 minutes or so. If you use a powder form of sports drink, be careful
not to use too much. Too much sugar slows the rate that water empties
from the stomach.
Getting enough carbohydrates after you ride is very important.
There is a window of opportunity after exercising where the body
converts "carbs" into glycogen much faster than normal. Getting enough
carbs into your system after you ride speeds your recovery. In fact,
there has been some evidence to suggest that the muscle stiffness that
occurs after vigorous exercise is related to muscle glycogen depletion.
For cyclists doing a 5 or 6-day ride, making sure that you intake
enough carbs after each days ride is essential. Focus on foods like
pasta, breads, and rice. If you like to indulge in a favorite meal
after a "special ride" e.g. a century by all means do so. Just make
sure that you get a carbohydrate rich meal immediately after you ride
first, and then later have what ever you desire. You have earned it!
Bill Bejeck is a full time personal trainer and avid cyclist
with his own company called HealthSport. Bill can be reached at Hsport
at Gateway.net with questions or comments.