There are one thousand calories which is roughly a third of any athletes’ normal daily allowance and that’s how many calories you’re likely to burn during an intense hour of racing.
With a 5,000-calorie bike ride and doing that each day for 3, 5 or 7 days in a row, that’s a pretty deep hole you’ve dug for yourself, and the event has only just begun.
There’s really no way to avoid burning a ton of calories during a stage race or even a one day event—or to prevent an energy deficit by eating while riding—but your performance for the rest of the day depends on adapting your nutrition strategy to compensate for this deficit. Fortunately, a few tweaks to your pre-race routine and your nutrition can help you catch up on calories you may have lost.
Keeping well fuelled….
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that old adage is never truer than on race day. You burned most of the carbohydrate stores in your liver overnight, and breakfast is your last big chance to pack more carbohydrate into your body. From then on, it’s a constant battle between using energy and replacing it.
The body runs on a seemingly flawed system that lets us burn energy faster than it can be replaced; you can easily burn 800 to 1,000 calories per hour, but you can only replace a portion of that. To maximize performance, it’s crucial that you start with as much fuel as possible in your body, and that you consume enough calories during the event to maximize the replenishment capacity of the system.
Plan to get up a few hours before the start of the race so you can eat a large breakfast and give it time to digest. For most people, this means sitting down to your final pre-race meal three to four hours before the start. You obviously don’t want to go to the start line with food sitting in your stomach, so practice your race-day plan in training to know exactly what you’ll be eating and how much digestion time you’ll need to feel comfortable when you start racing.
Before shorter events, you can often get away with a smaller meal about two hours before the race. And for all race distances, it’s a good idea to consume a bottle of carbohydrate-rich sports drink (PowerBar IsoMax) in the last hour before the start.
Nutrition is key for a good performance and when race day arrives, it becomes even more crucial to make sure your day ends in glory and not a bad bonk!
Through trial and error that includes some bad bonks, you will be able to dial in a plan that will eliminated nutrition from being a weak link in my quest for success!
For a morning start of your bike race, do the following:
• At 2-3 hours before the race start, at a good sized breakfast to get yourself full of calories, making sure to take in some quality protein. Example: Orange Juice, eggs, bacon and toast.
• With just over 1 hour to go, right before you start your warmup, eat a cup of oats and drink a half bottle of water. Quick to eat and digest! If you want less hassle, try a PowerBar Harvest Bar or PowerBar Natural Energy Cereal Bar
• With an hour to go get on your bike to begin your warmup. This is where you need to switch from stocking up calories, to topping up your body’s fluid and electrolytes stores. This is where the PowerBar IsoActive and PowerBar 5Electrolyte options come to play. There are a number of flavours and always great to change them….and can be fun too.
Race hour has arrived and now you need to provide a good amount of calories that are super easy to drink during the hard efforts of the race. This is the PowerBar IsoMax option and the magic it brings!
During the race you need to aim for a bottle each hour. Most MTB and road races are 3.5 hours or shorter, but if the race is over this time period supplement extra calories in the form of PowerGels or PowerBar Power Shots (about 1¬0 per hour).
When your race is done and you have made it onto the podium (your podium) make sure to quickly get a recovery drink into my system within 20 minutes of finishing the race. The Gold standard is by far the PowerBar Recovery Drink with some quick carbs and protein to refuel your empty muscles!
There you have a simple, not confusing strategy of how and when to fuel your body for any event. Remember too that by practicing on training rides is vital and be prepared to try different options…and make it fun.
YOU’RE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK