Welcome to the second instalment of our three-part series with Fresh Fitness Food; Fuel to Ride.
In our previous piece, we covered the best ways to fuel yourself ahead of your sessions, so that you can maximise your training, and the know-how to cooperate with your body by providing it with the right amount of carbohydrates.
Next up –
The best way to rehydrate after your ride.
Long and/or intense rides can take a serious toll on your body if you’re not aware of how to refuel and rehydrate properly. The next two instalments of Fuel to Ride will offer guidance on how to ensure your body recovers properly from each session, whether that be a spin class or an all-day ride.
One huge aspect of recovering properly is hydration. Everyone knows that they are supposed to drink ‘enough’ fluids each day (roughly 8 glasses or 2 litres), but knowing how much to REhydrate with after a session is slightly trickier. Thankfully, Fresh Fitness Food is here to help you!
Rehydrating, and staying hydrated in the first place (or as hydrated as possible), are vital for your recovery. Losing too much bodyweight through water (i.e. through sweat and urination) can have detrimental impacts on your performance;
- Losing just 2% of body weight (1.5kg in a 75kg person) will noticeably impair your performance.
- Losing 4% (3kg in a 75kg person) will reduce your capacity of muscle function, meaning muscle contraction may seem more difficult.
- Losing 5% (3.75kg in a 75kg person) can result in heat exhaustion (even if the temperature is not that high), and your capacity for work will be reduced by up to 30%, meaning your top performance is limited to around 70% of your capability.
- If you lose as much as 7% (5.25kg in a 75kg person), you will start experiencing hallucinations.
- Finally, a loss of 10% (7.5kg in a 75kg person) results in circulatory collapse, heat stroke and, if not responded to quickly enough, sometimes even death.
With the above statistics in mind, it is therefore vital to ensure that you are drinking enough water throughout your session, and adequately replenishing your fluid levels after your session.
If your session was 90 minutes or under, or relatively easy, around 500ml of fluid should suffice (but try to avoid diuretics, like caffeine or alcohol!). If your session was longer, and/or more intense, it is recommended to replace between 100 and 150% of the lost fluid within 1-4 hours of finishing your session.
If you are unsure of how much fluid to drink post-session, you can use your ‘weight loss’ over the session (i.e. weigh yourself prior to your session, and then afterwards, if possible) to help calculate the amount you should drink.
Each 0.5kg lost should be replenished with roughly 500ml fluid. The majority of riders find that they lose 500-1000ml for each hour they are enduring.
How to Rehydrate
It’s also vital to replace the electrolytes lost through sweat. These are essentially salts within your body, which include sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Potassium and sodium, for example, are imperative in cardiac contraction, so replenishing lost electrolytes is absolutely essential.
This can be done by consuming a sports drink, as most available have the correct balance of electrolytes to replenish your body. Alternatively, you can use effervescent electrolyte tablets or sachets, which are a slightly lower-carb option, leaving more room for your carbohydrate replenishment in your post-session snack.
Refuelling with Food:
While an absolute ratio has not yet been determined, studies have shown that the best way of recovering is ensuring you have a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein in your post-session snack or meal. This will help you replenish the glycogen stores you have used in your ride (you can learn more about this here if you missed part one of this series!).
If combining carbohydrates and protein in your post-session refuel, a useful guide to follow is 0.8g carbohydrates, and 0.2g protein per kg body weight, which, with our 75kg example, translates to 60g carbs and 15g protein.
With this, something like a 3-egg omelette with veg, and three slices of wholemeal toast would be a perfect fit.
If you’re strapped for time, try a protein shake made from ¾ scoop of protein powder, one banana, 40g oats and a milk of your choice.
Ideally, you should consume something within 30 minutes of finishing your session, whether that be a snack or a full meal. While this is ideal, it may not always be possible to eat that soon after your session, so if not possible, make sure you have something within an hour of finishing.
It’s important to note that the protein recommendations for your post-session snack/meal are not applicable to the overall amount of protein you should be consuming in a day. Keep your eyes peeled for our final instalment in the Fuel to Ride series to know how much protein you should be consuming each day!
What to consider, post-session:
- Do what’s right for you. What works for your ride buddy, may not work so well for you. Learn how to tune-in to what your body is feeling and needing at that moment. For example, if you’re feeling light-headed and thirsty, something like an electrolyte drink would likely be good for you when you immediately finish your session, followed by a meal or snack afterwards.
- What options are there? Think ahead – if you know you won’t be heading home straight away, it can be helpful to pack a snack or small meal, such a protein shake or bar and a banana to tide you over until you are able to whip up something more substantial.
- Rehydrate – if you know you’re going for a long cycle make sure you have plenty of fluid to rehydrate you during and after your session.
Article by Meghan Foulsham from Fresh Fitness Food. Meghan has a BSc in Biochemistry and an MSc in Eating Disorders and Clinical Nutrition.
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