There are few things worse than running out of fuel halfway through a long ride. If your stomach starts to rumble or your legs begin to shake, you know you need to eat or drink something, fast.
Bonking is one word that sends a shiver down the spine of any cyclist. It will make your life a misery on the bike, and there is no way out of it, unless you have fuel on hand. To put it simply, bonking is the moment where there is not enough fuel in your system to support the energy that your body requires. Once this happens you have no option but to slow down to a snail’s pace and God forbid there are any more hills to climb. Get your nutrition right though, and this needn’t be something you ever have to experience.
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Q – What and how much should I be eating every hour? Are there any simple to follow guidelines?
A – The body can utilise up to 60g of carbohydrate per hour in the form of glucose. This can be consumed in gel, bar, or fluid form, or via other preferred food sources. It is important to work out which approach suits you best in training to help avoid stomach upsets on event day.
Q – How do I know if I’m getting dehydrated? Shall I drink to thirst?
A – Dehydration has many consequences, including higher body temperature, increased heart rate, quicker-depleting carb stores and higher perceived exertion. This undesirable combination can ultimately lead to early fatigue.
Fluid intake will depend on sweat rates, thirst and temperature on the day. A rough estimate is to consume between 500-1,000ml per hour, using thirst as a guide.
Q – Can you ever overdrink or overeat in a sportive?
A – It is possible to overdrink, but dehydration is a much more common issue. Overhydrating can result in problems including the constant need to urinate. To reduce the risk, follow the 500-1,000ml per hour guide. Using electrolyte drinks rather than plain water can help to stimulate thirst, improve palatability and promote fluid absorption and retention.
Overeating can result in gastrointestinal upset; this is typically from consuming a large amount of carbohydrate during an event.
Q – What are electrolytes and when do I need them?
A – Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electrical charge (including sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride and calcium) and have important functions in maintaining normal cell functions such as transportation of substances in and out of cells.
Sweat rates can reach 1-2 litres per hour during exercise, depending on the temperature. Although sweating acts to help the body cool down, electrolytes are required to replace those lost via sweat. Sodium is the most important electrolyte as it helps stimulate thirst, improve fluid palatability and promote fluid absorption and retention.
Q – Is it just about carbs or do I need protein?
A – During sportive events the primary fuel source is carbohydrate, making this the key focus when it comes to nutrition. Aim to consume carbohydrate during exercise and protein immediately after the event to initiate the recovery process. Having an SiS Rego Rapid Recovery prepared can really help with your recovery after your sportive.
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