The ‘Right’ Food to Fuel your RIDE

So I’ve had a few people ask me what I eat before, during and after a race and so I thought I’d just blog about it.

For both training and race rides, I try to eat a good, hearty breakfast. This would include a healthy mix of carbohydrates and protein. I also love coffee 😀 For training, I try to wait a bit before getting on the bike (especially if I’m doing a TT training ride) otherwise, I end up *tasting* breaky for the next 2-3 hours…..blech. For racing, I usually have to travel anyway so it’s usually not a problem. I then count backwards in my head and try to eat something light every two hours and I stop eating an hour before the race altogether. The last thing I have before a race is usually either a GU Gel or a package of GU Chomps. And of course, keeping hydrated is a big priority. You don’t want to drink water so fast that it doesn’t have time to absorb and just runs through you, so just sip on it, a lot. Also, whenever you eat any kind of Gel, always take in at least 6 oz of water. They’re meant to be consumed that way and if you don’t, you could end up with indigestion. NOT what you want in the middle of a fast-paced criterium. For training rides and races over 2 hours, I always have one water bottle with just water and one with GU Electrolyte Brew. Otherwise, I just have one water bottle with just water. During a race I’m eating either the GU gel’s or the Chomps. Basically, right before, during and after exercise it’s okay to have high glycemic foods (high in simple carbohydrates) because you’re metabolism is running at a pace that it’ll burn those calories as quickly as you’ll consume them. Immediately following my training ride or race (within 30 min), I replenish with GU Recoverite Brew and then keep eating every 2 hours after that, but with successively lower and lower glycemic indexed foods. Eating high glycemic foods (you can look up a list of those foods and their high, medium or low glycemic index on-line quite easily) causes a high insulin response which results in the sugars being imported into the cells very quickly and if you don’t burn them quickly, then they get stored as fat. I usually try to eat moderate to low glycemic index foods the rest of the day with dinner being mostly protein and vegetables. This way, I’ll most likely burn those calories as quickly as they’re entering my blood stream; which is a lot slower than they would if they were high glycemic foods. I have also found that when I cut down on high glycemic foods (I have a sweet-tooth by the way), I crave them less. You could look up/read about why on that too. I’m pretty sure it has to do with the hormonal cascades immediately following a high-carbohydrate intake. I did take biochemistry in college but it’s been awhile and I haven’t memorized my metabolic pathways in awhile :-D.

If I try a new ‘food’ or experiment with something new, I NEVER do it on race day. *You* and I both know *we* worked too hard to let our performance/result become negatively affected by what we ate. I’d rather have a flat tire in the middle of a race then get indigestion because I ate something my body’s not used to and cramp, or whatever. Also, if I experiment or try something new, I try to simulate it with the type of effort I’m doing.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have any guilty pleasures. I’ll never give up dark chocolate, wine, beer or coffee. However, I partake of these moderately and I think I’m healthier for it. And I don’t care if you think I’m justifying it…I really don’t ;-))

2 Responses to “The ‘Right’ Food to Fuel your RIDE”

  1. Katie says:

    fascinating….i don't race, i just ramble around, but i do a lot of gu during a ride. i haven't tried the electrolyte brew yet though, but i think i saw some in the LBS last week so i might try it. and fascinating discussion about high/low glycemic foods….something i've never considered but will. usually i'm just shoveling protein down my trap as soon as i get home.

  2. John C says:

    Heather,
    I enjoyed reading about the high/low glycemic foods as well. Think I will print that out and save it!

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