When you’re cycling hard for two hours or more, it’s easy to forget about nutrition. Felicia Rogers explains how to manage your nutrition before, during, and after long bike rides to maximize your time on the bike.
Longer endurance sessions, as we all know, are important for supporting your heart’s cellular adaptation as well as ensuring that you can maintain technique over a long period when your body will naturally tire. So it’s more about stating, “Today I’m going to ride a bike for three hours!” than it is about covering a given distance in a certain period. This aids the body’s adaptability. It helps cyclists, for example, to endure long periods on the saddle by providing both physical and psychological preparation.
These are some of the fascinating nutritional seminars I’ve ever seen. On the one hand, they’re low-to-moderate intensity, indicating that our fat stores can physically support such activities for extended periods. However, an energy deficit must be made up while training for lengthy periods, significantly if you exceed the two-hour mark. While our bodies may only use 30-60 g of glucose each hour at this rate, a 70-pound man will burn about 1,000 calories in two hours (this will vary from individual to individual).
STORE AT FULL FOR LONG BIKE RIDES
It’s ideal to start extended training sessions with a total supply of glycogen. However, the conversion of glucose into glycogen reserves by the body might take up to 48 hours. While I don’t suggest ‘carb-loading,’ you may make sure you’re getting enough carbs throughout the day leading up to the lengthy bike ride.
One of the most efficient strategies to enhance carbohydrate consumption 48 hours prior is changing the meal content rather than increasing the volume of calories or food. Instead of eating eggs for breakfast, try oatmeal with bananas and honey; instead of bread or wraps, try bagels; instead of Greek yogurt or mixed nuts for a snack, try crumpets or toast with jam or honey; and for evening meals, try combining complex carbohydrate, such as oats.
Aim to ingest 30 grams of carbohydrate every 30-45 minutes throughout a 2-hour endurance workout. Listed below are a few examples:
- Gel for athletics
- 500ml energizing drink
- 6 jelly babies
- Raisins, 45 grams
- A single banana
- On half a bagel, spread yeast extract or jam.
- 2 slices of malt loaf
- Half a sweet potato brownie
REHABILITATION FROM EARLY SESSIONS
It's essential to recover from endurance training. Even if you don't put a lot of stress on your cardiovascular system or muscles, you will deplete your glycogen stores, which is the primary source of fuel for your body, as quickly as possible.
It is recommended that you eat a combination of carbohydrates and Protein immediately after your workout and every two hours until your next meal. Aim for up to 0.4g of Protein per lbs and up to 1.2g of Carbohydrate per lbs.
Consider the case of a 65-pound male athlete who finished a 3-hour bike ride at 2 pm. He'll require 65-78g of carbs and up to 26g of Protein in the immediate post-recovery phase.
Here's a closer look at what this schedule should include:
- 2:30 pm - A banana and 500 mL chocolate milk (75g carbohydrate and 18g protein)
- 4:30 pm - 12 can baked beans, two slices whole-grain toast, 150 g fruit yogurt (78g carbs, 17g protein)
- 6:30 pm - 3 slices malt bread, 50g unsalted almonds (60g carbohydrate, 17g protein)
- 8:30 pm - The main meal
Remember that if you intend to work out again within 24 hours, this sort of refueling is much more critical.
FUELING MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES
To get the most out of lengthy rides, you must fuel yourself before, during, and afterward. Here's how you can do it:
CARBS SHOULD BE EXPANDED
Aim for a 48-hour increase in carbohydrate content in your diet. For example, substitute two slices of barley bread with hummus and veggies, or add a banana to your porridge.
RIDES THAT LAST MORE THAN 2 HOURS
For rides longer than 2 hours, aim for 30-60g of carbohydrates every 30-45 minutes, in the form of actual food (bananas) or sports-specific food (energy gel or 500ml energy drink).
Taking on fuel within 30 minutes after completing 500ml of milk or flavored milk is an excellent option. After that, you can enjoy a balanced meal in under 2 hours.