Good nutrition is important for everyone, as combined with physical activity a good balanced diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer), and promote your overall health. For anyone participating in sport and exercise will know how not eating properly can affect performance.
Within a healthy, balanced diet, a man needs around 2,500kcal a day to maintain his weight. For a woman, that figure is around 2,000kcal a day.
In comparison most riders will consume approximately 5,000kcal per stage of the Tour de France.
While I’m no Chris Froome or Peter Sagan, nutrition is going to play a huge role in my upcoming JOGLE Challenge, where I will be cycling from John O’Groats to Land’s End in just 9 days – all in aid of Make-A-Wish UK.
The food we eat impacts on our strength, training, performance and recovery. Not only is the type of food important for sports nutrition but the times we eat throughout the day also has an impact on our performance levels and our bodies ability to recover after exercising. So ahead of my JOGLE Challenge, I’ll be posting some blog updates on what I’ve learnt about nutrition and how I will use this knowledge to help fuel the near 1,000 mile ride.
Fuelling and Energy
Taking on the right fuel before, during in the case of endurance events, and after exercise is clearly important. But knowing some basic rules can make this a really easy win, ensuring you are able to deliver at your best.
As a general rule of thumb you should eat about two hours before exercising and this meal shouldn’t be too heavy and consist of slow release carbohydrates and some protein. I generally have overnight oats and fresh fruit or a scrambled eggs on toast with some bacon washed down with a pint or so of water.
Your body can only store enough carbohydrates (glycogen) for around 2 hours of exercise so not refuelling will lead to an inevitable bonk. So you should be aiming to take on between 30-60g of carbohydrates every hour – either as solid foods or sports gels. I prefer whole, solid food options over gels – personal preference due to the effect they have on my stomach. You can get what you need from a large banana, two fig rolls, a Primal Bar, or a handful of raisins. My personal favourite is the little handy Lunch Box Loaves from Soreen – you can’t beat a bit of squidgy malt loaf energy.
L to R: My raw granola bars and an attempt at Andy Peter’s Banana Loaf
After exercise Carbohydrates are needed to replenish your glycogen stores, while protein provides the raw materials needed for muscle repair. I’m not a macro hunter, but I find anything from a egg omelette or a tuna bagel can provide a relatively instant hit. Similarly there are plenty of specific recovery drinks on the market from brands such as Science in Sport, High5 and For Goodness Shakes.
Staying hydrated is vital when you’re working out or participating in any sports – after glycogen depletion, dehydration is the biggest cause of fatigue. Water provides musculoskeletal lubrication as well as helps to transport nutrients throughout your body and as such water should be your go-to source for hydration. That said, drinking a sports drink if your engaged in intensive activity for an hour or more is advisable, as it will help to replace lost electrolytes. I’ve just started using Active Root, a natural ginger sports drink, as I go on to say below getting more natural whole foods in to your diet is definitely the way to go.
So, while riding it’s good to take regular sips, say every 15-20 minutes and aim to start every session well hydrated.
Diet in general
Aiming to increase the amount of whole, non-processed, foods in your diet will go a long way to improving the quality of your diet and the way you feel. It’s not about sacrificing the beer and a pizza on a Friday night (my own personal treat), but creating a good balance that is predominantly lean meats, fish, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats (nut butters and avocados) carbohydrates (sweet potato, brown rice, lentils). It is important that you get all of you the vitamins and nutrients you need from your diet – it’s not great to rely on supplements – it’s both expensive and no replacement for a good diet.
L to R: Curried Cauliflower, Steak and Tabbouleh and Chicken and Pesto Pasta
That said there are benefits to taking a Vitamin D supplement (hey, this is UK after all and we are limited on the amount we can get from sunshine) and Omega 3, which helps to regulate body composition and inflammation, helping with those post workout DOMS.
In coming blogs I’ll share some of the products I love – Active Root and Soreen, which I’ve already mentioned, and some of my favourite recipes of quick and easy nutrition.
If you would like to donate and help Guy reach his £5,000 fundraising target for Make-A-Wish UK, then please visit www.justgiving.com/milesforwishes
You can find out more at www.milesforwishes.com or follow Guy’s progress across social media;