Week 7: Nutrition for Training and Racing

August 2, 2016/ Maria Parker

This is week seven of a twelve week series to help you train for and successfully complete a century ride. Check out the free 12 Week Couch to Century training plan here.

Nutrition for training and racing is an area with wildly varying information available. I’ve personally been all over the place with my nutrition. With that caveat, I’ll give standard advice and then tell you what I am currently doing.

The most important thing is to stay hydrated and to have appropriate electrolyte (salt, magnesium, potassium) replacement while training and off the bike. When training in the summer, this is crucial. I generally use salt sticks or other electrolyte replacement pills, especially when it’s hot and I’m sweating a lot. I set my clock and take a sip of liquid every five minutes. I take electrolyte replacements according to the package instructions.

Calories: Current wisdom says that we can only absorb 250-300 calories per hour. Some cyclists use sweetened drinks like Gatorade or Powerade or any one of hundreds of sports drinks on the market. It’s easier to get calories down in a liquid form if you’re working hard. Also available are goos of all kinds and chewable candies marketed to athletes. I personally prefer to chew my calories, so if I’m eating on the bike, I tend toward chews or real food. It’s a little more difficult to digest fat and protein, so most people stick to carbohydrates while training and then eat something with carbohydrates and protein right after training.

Of course your regular food should be of the highest quality you can get. Do not use your exercise as an excuse to eat a Cinnabon after your training ride. The latest research says that for weight control, the very most important thing you can do is adjust your diet. I have found that to be true. I can ride hundreds of miles and still gain (or at least not lose) weight if my diet is poor.

Recently I have become convinced that sugar, bread and pasta, my three favorite food groups, are killing me and hurting my training. It took me 53 years to come to this conclusion and I only came to it after I could not ignore the evidence any longer. Six months ago, my husband and I adopted a very low carbohydrate diet and we’ve been astounded at the difference it has made in our lives. You can read more about it in my blog Keto, Cruzbike and a Cure for Cancer

The result of our new diet is that I no longer take in any calories on my rides, just water and electrolytes. It works well for me, but I would not recommend it unless you have done your research and fully understand the science and implications behind this approach.

Next up in this series: Power in numbers – Find a Riding Group or Buddy

Congratulations on taking on your first Century ride! Maria Parker, world record-holding cyclist and Cruzbike CEO, put together this 12 week training guide and blog series to help you successfully complete your first century ride. Share your progress with the Cruzbike Community @CRUZBIKE on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We’ll cheer you on through your first 100 mile ride.

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