If you’re planning to go on a cycling tour, it is important to keep your body properly fuelled and hydrated. However, there is so much information available it can be confusing trying to sort through it all. We have provided some top tips to help you have the best results.
There are a couple of ways to determine your caloric needs. A GPS device that can estimate the number of calories burned based on the terrain can give a more accurate indication of whether additional or fewer calories are required during the ride, as well as immediately before or afterward.
Another way to estimate caloric needs is to multiply planned miles by 40 to 50 calories. For example, for a 30 mile ride, multiply 30 by 40 or 50, which equals 1,200-1,500 calories. If you’re a slower or lighter rider aim for the lower number, and higher if you’re a faster or heavier rider.
Don’t Skip Carbs
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy. When it comes to cycling, your carbohydrate requirement depends on the number of miles ridden per week, and your lifestyle. Sports scientists recommend 5-9g of carbohydrate per kilogram of weigh daily.
Typically, this is a fist-sized portion of a low-glycaemic carbohydrate with each meal or snack. However, keep in mind that the type of carbs eaten will have an impact on your energy levels, as well as your health. It is best to choose foods like fruits, vegetables and wholegrain slow-release carbohydrates.
Build and Rebuild with Protein
Often when people think of sports and protein, the association is with building muscle. However, protein is the building block of a healthy body. Protein supports all muscle health, your immune system, as well as healing and recovery. It is a mistake to assume protein is less important to a cyclist. Muscle damage occurs when training, and on a long ride. Without proper protein support, recovery will be below optimal levels.
Good fats, not bad fats
Like carbs, it is important to remember the body requires certain fats for optimal health. Foods that provide good fats, (Omega 3, 6 and 9) include nuts, seeds, fish and oils from flaxseed, borage and starflower. About 20g per day of good fats are known to reduce inflammation, which is great for asthma sufferers, allergies, and joint and muscle inflammation. It also reduces bad cholesterol.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Proper fluid levels create better energy levels in all aspects of life. To work out your personal fluid requirements during a ride, weigh yourself before and after your ride. For each kilo lost, additional litre of water is required. This will make a big difference in your performance and recovery.
Eat to Recover
Meals and drinks rich in carbohydrates will speed up energy refuelling if eaten within the first 20 minutes post-ride. 1g of carbohydrate per kilogram of weigh is optimal. Adding 10g of protein to this will reduce chances of injury, promote muscle recovery and reduce soreness, and speed up energy refuelling.