Round the Lake Nutrition
Nutrition can have a huge impact on performance and enjoyment for the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge. Getting your nutrition right will:
- Optimise fitness gains from training
- Prevent illness and injury
- Ensure you have the best chance of achieving your goals on race day
It is important to realise that endurance nutrition is more than just sports drink and gels on race day. Getting your nutrition right means getting it right from the moment you start training. Endurance nutrition has three key pillars:
- Everyday Nutrition
- Exercise specific nutrition (nutrition for training and event day)
Getting each of these right will optimise performance and get you fitter, faster.
Your day-to-day diet is your foundation. A nutritious, high quality diet is essential to prevent illness and injury during the increased stress of endurance training. A good diet also creates the optimal environment for the body to adapt and respond to your training programme, enabling you to get fit faster.
To achieve a nutritious diet focus on, fresh, unprocessed foods, with a balance of carbohydrates, lean protein and plant based fats. Ensure plenty of fruit and veggies are included. Meals should include:
- A serve of carbohydrates (the size of your fist)
- A serve of protein (the size of the palm of your hand)
- 1-2 handfuls of fruit or veges.
Utilize the Athletes Plate Model (1/3 of your plate veggies to 'protect', 1/3 of your plate is protein to 'repair', and 1/3 of a plate of carbohydrates to 'energise').
Snacks between meals will become more important to stave off hunger. Snacks can be a source of unwanted calories, salt, sugar, and bad fats, so plan snacking in advance. Healthy snacks that contribute valuable nutrients include:
- Fresh and dried fruit
- Nuts and seeds
- Crackers with toppings such as avocado, tomato, cottage cheese and hummus.
Staying hydrated is simple – drink to thirst. There is no hard and fast rule as to how much to drink, just carry a drink bottle and sip on it when thirsty. Monitor your urine, if it’s darker than a ‘straw’ colour, then you probably should be drinking more.
A Trailblazer Nutrition Plan includes a personalized meal plan with quantities of actual food (rather than just nutrients) tailored to your individual needs and taking into account various training loads.
Exercise Specific Nutrition
Optimising nutrition during training will:
- Increase fitness gains by helping improve quality and intensity of sessions
- Improve race day performance by training your gut to tolerate more carbohydrates
- Allow you to fine tune your event day nutrition plan so you are confident on your big day.
Just like a Formula 1 car, the body requires fuel. Consider carbohydrates as petrol, the predominant fuel when endurance training. Muscles need a steady and reliable supply. Not enough will inhibit performance, too much risks gastro upset and impaired training.
Fluid is also important, just like an engine doesn’t want to over heat, the body slows down as internal body temperature increases as a result of exercise. Fluid is lost in the process of keeping us cool, so it must be replaced during exercise.
Everybody requires different amounts of fuel depending on personal and environmental factors, their session goals, and how they are building towards race day.
As a loose rule aim for 60-90g of carbohydrate from food and drinks per hour, and drink to thirst.
Before most training sessions you should aim to consume a meal high in carbohydrates that will provide slow release energy throughout the ride. Studies have shown anywhere from 1-4g of carbohydrate per kg of your body weight is best. This is a range of 70 - 280g of carbohydrates for a 70kg athlete. Most recreational (and a lot of pro's actually) tend to go on the lower end of this which I think is absolutely fine.
100g of carbohydrate looks like:
- 3 weetbix with milk and yoghurt
- 1/2 a piece of fruit
- 2 pieces of toast with jam/honey
During exercise nutrition
60g of carbohydrates (i.e one hour's worth) looks like:
- 500mls of (typical) sports drink
- One gel
You will need to practise this in training to ensure you tolerate the type of gel and drink that you choose. Make sure that you check how much carbohydrates that they contain so that you know what you are getting. Different gels have different storage/delivery methods e.g. squeeze tubes, sachets, pouches. Make sure you trial in training so that you are confident you will be able to actually consume them!
The Trailblazer's Guide to Round Taupo provides practical advice on how to implement these guidelines and make them suit your own needs.
A Trailblazer Nutrition Plan include personalized, practical nutrition strategies for training that are tailored to your unique individual requirements, enabling you to perform optimally in each session.
Event day nutrition is simply an extension of training, and is the subject of Trailblazer Nutrition’s Golden Rule: Never do something on event day that you haven’t trialled in training. Great British Olympic marathoner Liz Yelling said her most important piece of race advice was “when you stand on that start line you must know your nutrition and hydration strategy…. it’s very personal so you must have practised it in training.”
This applies to cycling as well. You must consider the different situation that an event presents compared to training. You will cycle longer on event day than you have done in training, will you be able to carry enough fuel? How will you carry it? Will you use the aid stations?
The Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge has aid stations approximately 20km apart, each containing water with and the sponsors product (yet to be announced) in the second half of the course. You must have a nutrition strategy based around these parameters. How many bottles will you carry on your bike? Will you refill at the aid stations. Will a support person give you a bottle somewhere? The last thing you want to do is to lose your peloton because you have not planned your nutrition properly.
Sports drinks are a great way to meet fluid requirements whilst also contributing some carbohydrates, but they won’t meet your carb needs entirely. Gels and sports bars are specifically designed to be well tolerated during exercise, but bananas, home baking, pre cooked potatoes, lollies, and muesli bars can work if preferred. You must consider how your gels and hydration plan combine, how much carbs this gives you, and whether or not this is too much or too little.
A Trailblazer Nutrition Plan works with your preferred fuel and hydration sources to build a specific, personalized training and race day strategy.
You do not get fitter during training itself, you get fitter during recovery.
Training creates the potential for adaptation (the bigger the training stimulus, the bigger the potential adaptation), but it is the hours after exercise where this potential is fulfilled.
This tells us recovery nutrition is of utmost importance. If you don’t provide your body with the right amount, of the right nutrients, at the right times during the recovery period, you won’t achieve your adaptation potential, and your hard work in training will be wasted.
In fact you shouldn’t consider your training session over until you have had a recovery meal (or two).
Protein is needed to rebuild your damaged muscles, and carbohydrates are required to refuel. Exact amounts required vary for each individual but some good foods to incorporate into a recovery plan are:
- Nuts and seeds
- Cheese and ham sandwiches
- Flavoured milk
- Pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, and other starches
- Lean meat, fish, lentils, legumes, and eggs
A Trailblazer Nutrition plan provides a personalized recovery plan for various training sessions, with advice extending to the amount of specific food you require, rather than just focusing on nutrients. Trailblazer’s get maximum bang for their training buck while preventing excessive intake.
For further information about recovery nutrition click here.
- Endurance nutrition is important during training, not just on race day
- Ensure a high quality everyday diet – follow the plate model and snack wisely
- Carbohydrates are the weapon of choice during training; use carbohydrate containing sports drink, gels, or whole foods
- A personalized plan will ensure the right amounts of carbs, fluids, and electrolytes to train hard and avoid gastro problems
- Race day nutrition is an extension of training, don’t try anything on race day you haven’t trialed in training.
- Recovery is where the magic happens, consuming the right amount of carbs, protein and fluid after training will allow all the hard work you put in during the session to be converted to fitness improvements.
A final word of advice: enjoy your training! Cycling around Taupo is an amazing achievement, so savour the challenge.
Keep an eye out for the trailblazer nutrition tips that will appear in the newsletters and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for further tips and hints around endurance exercise.