By Pav Bryan, Direct Power Coaching
You’ve entered a Sportive, Gran Fondo, Century Ride, or anything in between, what should your nutrition look like? Well the answer will be determined by a number of factors. If you just want to complete the event and you’re already in fairly good shape then your nutrition might be slightly less rigid and more flexible. If you want to compete at the event, or you’ve got a lot of work to do, you might want to be more strict with your diet.
Either way, here’s some very simple tips to help you get the basics nailed:
- Consider upping your daily intake of fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Eating little & often can be beneficial. Not grazing, but not eating three huge meals either. Consider getting your daily requirements from 5–6 meals of approximately 500 calories each, but adjust this depending on your training load.
- You should be eating a combination of quality carbohydrate, protein and good fats. Experiment with the ratio of each, as everyone is unique.
- Consider your training periodization with your diet, for example, consider eating more fats when your training is low intensity and more carbohydrates when your training is harder.
Let’s put it another way; you can consider carbohydrates, protein and fats as the ‘petrol you put in your car’, but the quality of that ‘petrol’ will determine just how well your body runs. Feed it crap, it’ll run like crap…!
But what about training or the event itself? What’s the best plan to start with?
Hydration: You should ensure you are always adequately hydrated for training. This will require you to drink plenty of water throughout the day. A good measure is one bottle 500ml per hour of water or electrolyte drink per hour during exercise. Check the colour of your urine throughout the day to gauge how much you should be drinking as it varies greatly from person to person, the lighter colouring the better hydrated you are.
Feeding: Any ride or session lasting more than 2 hours, (this includes your sportive!); you should aim to consume around 250 calories per hour. Ideally this will be made up of homemade bars and/or homemade energy drinks. Your body cannot digest more than around this amount so do not eat more. If low intensity nothing up until 4 hours (take something just in case and build up to it!).
THE BEST ADVICE YOU WILL EVER READ: Test this out, it is not a perfect solution, not everyone will find this works, in particular test the foods you are eating!