Effective nutrition

When training it’s important to feed your body the right type of food at the right time. This helps ensure that your body is fuelled up correctly and that it’s got a decent supply of vitamins, minerals and proteins to help aid recovery and help you build your body’s fitness through physiological adaption.

Common sense prevails for nutritional advice. There is no magic food or formula that works best. Also, everyone has their unique dietary requirements, so it’s vital to find out what works for you. The following is quite a strict diet and so just taking on just some of these options will help improve your wellbeing and performance.

  • Eat foods that are as unprocessed as possible
  • Focus on consuming a healthy serving of lightly steamed veggies with evening meals
  • Snack on fruit and nuts during the day
  • Eat low GI and unprocessed carbohydrates
  • Eat white and lean red meat
  • Avoid soft drinks, fatty, fried and highly salted foods, biscuits and products containing white flour
  • Ensure that you get enough fibre in your diet
  • Drink water adequately but not too much that you leach your body of minerals
  • Reduce the consumption of alcohol and dairy products

A typical day may look like this:

  • Breakfast – Porridge, muesli or omelet
  • Lunch – Green salad or brown rice with a white or lean red meat. Brown bread salad sandwich
  • Dinner – Lightly steamed veggies or brown rice with a white or lean red meat.

While training, consume low GI foods that provide around 30-60 grams of carbohydrate an hour. As you become more efficient at burning fat on this type of diet, you’ll find yourself less dependent on high GI carbohydrates.

On the ride carbohydrate consumption

Aim to consume 30-60 grams of carbohydrate an hour. These carbohydrate requirements can be met by consuming a variety of combinations of sports drinks, sports bars and gels and normal food like fruit, ANZAC biscuits, fruit cake, and sandwiches.

It’s a personal choice as to what suits you. If you are riding at a leisurely pace then “real” food like bananas and fruitcake are great options. The faster you go, the more you’ll probably be better relying on products that can be consumed and digested quickly like sports drinks, gels, and sports bars.

Most products now have their carbohydrate content listed on the outside of the packet. This makes it relatively easy to work out how many of them you’ll need to eat per hour. Most gels and sports bars contain around 20-30 grams of carbohydrate so consuming two to three of these products per hour will meet the majority of most people needs.

Remember that these are guidelines only! As everyone has their preference to the type of food they prefer to consume, you should experiment to work out your nutritional requirements during your training leading up to the Sydney to Surfers Robbo’s Ride. Also, people with larger builds (heavier) consume more carbohydrate per hour than smaller (lighter) built people.

Hydration Guidelines

The fluid you drink while riding is taken to replace water and electrolytes lost through perspiration. You also lose fluid when you breathe, but this is of lesser importance.

The amount of fluid you consume will vary depending on how hot it is when you are riding and how much you perspire. The hotter the day and the more you perspire so, the more fluids and electrolytes you’ll need to replace. Again, each individual has their specific hydration needs, so it’s important to experiment while out riding until you find out what works for you.

Hydration can be complicated further because many people rely on the carbohydrate in the sports drinks to provide them with their fuel as well. On cooler days, they may not be drinking enough of the sports drink to meet their 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour requirements. If this is the case, then supplementing their sports drink with a snack will help.

Drinking too much on a cooler day means you may need to go to the toilet more often to expel the extra water. Also, on the hottest part of really hot days you may not be able to consume enough fluid that you lose. If you know that you are going to be riding through the middle part of a really hot day, it’s important to ensure that to keep on top of your hydration earlier on in the ride. By doing this, you’ll be less likely to run deeply into hydration deficit before the mid-day heat. Remember, having a headache is a sure sign that you are dehydrated.


* cycling-informDavid Heatley is an Accredited Cycling Australia Cycling Coach. His company, Cycling-Inform, provides cycle coaching services, runs training camps and has a website full of excellent advice to help you get the best out of your training and your cycling.