It’s easy to think that fuelling is only important before and during your ride, but this isn’t the case. For the past few hours you’ve been working the body hard, putting it under a lot of stress and processing a fair amount of fuel.
Muscle tissue will have become damaged, stress hormones have been released and the immune system weakened. Not to mention the extreme fatigue that is starting to kick in.
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The body needs to repair. A failure to do so and you are susceptible to getting ill — research shows that after endurance exercise, the body is open to infection for 72 hours. You could pick up injuries, muscle soreness will be much more intense and it will take far longer to recover and bring your body back to feeling normal.
But what do you need and when?
Q -What do I need to eat and drink after a ride?
A -Consuming a combination of high-quality, fast-digesting carbs and protein, with an electrolyte fluid alongside is important.
Carbs will replenish muscle glycogen used during the ride, protein will initiate muscle repair and rebuild, while the electrolytes will help replace the fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat. An effective recovery strategy helps ensure you get the most out of every ride.
Q – How much carbohydrate?
A – While recommended protein intakes remain fairly constant, carbohydrate intake is a little more flexible as it depends on a number of factors, such as how hard you have ridden, your fitness levels, your pre-ride fuelling and the temperature.
However, as the majority of sportives take at least three hours, you’re going to need a healthy dose of carbohydrates. The literature suggests that a carb intake of 0.8 to 1.2 grams per kg of body weight maximises glycogen synthesis.
Q – Are recovery drinks worth it?
A – Recovery drinks are highly practical immediately post-exercise, especially at events, as the opportunity to make a meal right after your ride is simply not available. For example, SiS Rego Rapid Recovery contains a combination of high-quality ingredients including protein, carbohydrates and electrolytes to help initiate recovery. This can then be followed by a meal when it is practical.
Q – Is sports nutrition worth it or can I just rely on real foods?
A – This depends very much on the choice of product. They are not a substitute for real food, they are simply practical options for achieving energy intake during and immediately after exercise.
Sources such as gels, bars, and carbohydrate and recovery drinks are highly practical and formulated for optimal digestion during and after exercise. Carrying a range of other food sources on the move can be difficult.
Q- How much protein do I need to consume?
A – Research shows that consuming 20-25g of high-quality protein immediately post-exercise is the optimal quantity to initiate the recovery process. Choosing a fast-digesting whey protein rather than a slow-digesting casein protein helps to speed up the recovery process.
Refuel – Three recovery meals
- Milkshakes: Any sort of milkshake contains a mixture of both proteins and carbohydrates. Although be wary, as some contain a huge amounts of sugar. Add fruit to your shakes such as blueberries, which will provide the body with antioxidants, or bananas that will help combat dehydration thanks to their potassium content.
- Chicken and rice: Protein from the chicken and carbohydrates from the rice makes this a great post recovery meal.
- Eggs on toast: Eggs are rich in branched-chain amino acids, perfect for protein synthesis, while the toast is a good source of carbohydrates.
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