Wouldn’t it be great to know that you’re getting the absolute most out of your training, at all times? Introducing, the Fuel To Ride blog series from our partner – Fresh Fitness Food.
This is a three-part series, starting with:
What to eat before you Ride!
Intense training can be difficult to fuel. Whether it’s a one-hour cycle class or the Tour de France, adequate energy is essential to maximise your performance and refuel properly.
Avid riders must consume enough:
- Protein to help repair their muscles
- Polyunsaturated fats to limit muscle damage
- Carbohydrates to supply glycogen levels
- As well as the recommended vitamin and mineral amounts.
This might sound convoluted and stressful, but Fresh Fitness Food is here to save the day!
If you haven’t heard of FFF before, you may recognise the CEO, Caspar. When he’s not in the office planning breakthrough strategies in the world of bespoke nutrition and meal prep delivery, he can often be found leading classes down at Ride Republic.
Through this three-part series, FFF will be guiding you through the most effective ways of preparing your body for a workout, refuelling afterwards, and how to handle your nutrition on a longer-term basis.
Getting your nutrition just right can be difficult, especially if you’re undergoing intense training. If you’d like some more tailored nutrition advice or would like to stop worrying about your nutrition altogether, you can book a call with one of the FFF nutritionists at any time.
First up – how best to fuel your body ahead of a session:
1. Preparing your body
If you’re a seasoned rider, you’ll likely be familiar with the ins and outs of fuelling your training. But if you are new to this type of training, are worrying about your nutrition, or would simply just like a refresher, then carry on reading.
Firstly, you’ll need to consider your training itself – are you doing a mixture of classes and longer, endurance-based rides, or is it solely one or the other?
As you’ll know, longer and more intense sessions require more energy, and therefore more preparation around your nutrition. The night before your session, it can be helpful to have a high-carb meal, to ensure you have sufficient glycogen stores – this is sometimes known as ‘carb-loading’.
Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred, and most-efficient energy source during intense exercise.
Eating prior to your session will give you that additional energy boost to carry you through your training, and help avoid a dip in energy.
2. What is Glycogen?
Unlike fat, we have a finite store of carbohydrates in the body. Glycogen is the storage form of glucose (a type of carbohydrate), and is found mostly in muscle tissue, but also the liver.
When your cells do not have sufficient adenosine triphosphate (ATP) – the energy molecule that is used for biochemical processes in your body – such as muscle contraction – glycogen stores are broken down to create glucose, so that you can continue with your training.
The amount of glycogen you store depends on your size, weight and muscle mass, but your carbohydrate requirements to replete your stores also depend on how frequently you train:
- <1 hour = 5-7g carbohydrate/kg body weight.
- 1-3 hours = 6-10g carbohydrate/kg body weight.
- >4 hours = 8-12g carbohydrate/kg body weight.
There are different ways you can prepare for this, depending on your lifestyle habits; for example, when you train.
3. The early bird catches the workout!
If you’re someone who trains before work, or early in the morning, it may be more difficult for you to get that extra energy boost in before your training session.
If eating a meal prior to your session, try to allow around two hours for your food to digest. Good go-to options for such meals are overnight oats or whole wheat pancakes!
Pasta with chicken was the go-to pre-race meal for six-time Olympic gold medalist, Sir Chris Hoy when he was in the peak of his career. Since retiring, his new go-to options are scrambled eggs on toast, or a cheese and ham omelette with beans – slightly more breakfast-friendly!
If you tend to roll out of bed and onto the bike, your body will not have sufficient time to digest a larger meal, and so an easy-to-digest snack is more recommended.
How much you are willing to prepare this snack is up to you – breakfast smoothies are a great way of topping up your carbohydrate stores before a session, but, of course, require more preparation than a banana, for example.
Bananas are a particularly great pre-workout snack, as they are as effective as sports drinks in restoring carbs, potassium, and other nutrients expended during exercise, such as electrolytes. They are also easy for your body to digest, meaning you have a quick and sustained energy release to help fuel you.
If you really can’t stomach anything before an early class, make sure you’re packing your evening meal with carbs. While some of your glycogen stores will have been depleted by your brain overnight
That way, your body can use the glycogen stored overnight to help you through.
Avoiding carbohydrates, particularly when training intensely, can lead to dizziness and fainting spells, fatigue, and confusion – not ideal if you’re training around work!
Due to its perceived effect in increasing alertness, caffeine is believed to be a great option pre-training. However, it is not a viable alternative to your morning meal or snack.
While it may increase your alertness, and thus perceived energy levels, the caloric value of most caffeinated beverages (i.e. coffee) are non-existent. With a calorie being a measurement of energy, having a zero-calorie ‘energy-boost’, is not as effective as you might think.
Caffeine is more helpful for your mind than your body – it can help you mentally prepare, perhaps ‘lift the fog’ in the morning, and give you the illusion that you have energy, but realistically, it does not fuel your body in any way that will help you physically through the session.
Overall, the most efficient way of preparing for a big session is to ‘carb-load’ the night before, particularly if your session is early in the morning. Topping up your glycogen stores in the morning is also recommended – if possible, a larger breakfast meal is ideal to keep you going, but if not possible, a simple snack of a banana or a smoothie is a close second.
If you found this helpful, keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment in this series on how you should be refuelling after your sessions. If you can’t wait until then, book a call with a FFF nutritionist here.
Riders can get £50 off a 5-day Fresh Fitness Food trial* using the code RIDEREPUBLIC50. Or 10% off your first order with code RIDEREPUBLIC10.