Hi ,my name is Judith Cahill and I am a masters cyclist who races locally with Wellington Cycling Club and I venture out to race National Masters titles each year. Until last year I was working as an Ambulance Paramedic with Ambulance Victoria, but my interest is Nutrition and I have been studying Food and Nutrition part time since 2009 and hope to eventually qualify as a dietician.
I began writing a blog way back, www.judithsdiary.blogspot.com to express my feelings about my cycling as sometimes you have a ride where everything is just all in the right place, and then the following week you can ride and feel like you forgot to put the training wheels on, but of late I have begun to write principally about Nutrition as it is a science that can help your riding and racing, you just need to pay more attention to what you DO and what you DON’T eat.
There is an abundance of nutrition information around, but I will focus on the basic principles of Nutrition and that means looking at the building blocks, the Carbohydrates, the Proteins and Fats and then Vitamins and Minerals and other considerations. My blog is intended to share my interest in the field of Nutrition as a student in the field. I will also from time to time share my cycling highs and lows as I am sure other riders of all levels will be able to relate to them.
If you have any questions, I can be contacted at email@example.com
The Humble Carbohydrate
Carbohydrates are an important fuel for your day - Even more important for athletes and those who use a lot of energy.
Sports nutrition and low GI energy foods are easy to find in supermarkets and in sports stores
Energy for our body (Calories or kilojoules), is available in four forms:-
a) Carbohydrates (which contain 4 cal/17kJ per gram)
b) Proteins (which also contain 4 cal/17kJ per gram)
c) Fats (which contain 9 cal/37kJ per gram)****
d) Alcohol (which contain 7 cal/29kJ per gram)
****Fat is energy dense as it provides a lot of energy in a smaller amount of food.
The difference between each one is how it is processed when it enters the body and how quickly the energy is available for use.
Lets look at THE HUMBLE CARBOHYDRATE
The simplest form of carbohydrate is glucose and when the body consumes excess glucose, the excess is stored in the form of glycogen in the muscles and in the liver. HOWEVER we don't eat glucose and glycogen. It is when we eat carbohydrate rich foods that our body receives glucose for immediate energy and converts excess energy to glycogen for reserves. It is without question that the amount of glycogen stored in your muscles and liver has a direct effect on exercise performance.
• High muscle-glycogen concentration will allow you to train at optimal intensity and achieve better results
• Low muscle-glycogen concentration will lead to early fatigue, reducing the intensity of your training and this will be reflected in your race/performance results.
How much Carbohydrate should I eat?
Whether you are recreational or professional,
your diet will affect your performance
The body uses Carbohydrate for energy and excess is stored in the muscle and liver as glycogen, BUT the liver and muscles can only store a limited amount so eating TOO MUCH carbohydrate which cannot be stored contributes to weight gain. Inadequate carbohydrate, will only look after immediate needs but not restock the liver and muscles with that valuable and fatigue resisting glycogen. Getting the balance right means reviewing your daily consumption to ensure that you have are consuming an optimum amount.
Once upon a time, carbohydrate recommendations were based on a percentage of your daily caloric needs and although sports nutritionists recommend that all regular exercisers and athletes consume a diet high in carbohydrate and low in fat the amount of carbohydrate consumed is based more on the level of activity of the individual.
So your daily carbohydrate intake will vary depending on your activity level.
General exercise – (up to 1 hr of daily exercise) 5-6g/kg body weight of carbohydrate per day.
Moderate exercise – (1-2 hrs of moderate to high intensity training) 6-8g/kg body weight
Endurance exercise (greater than 120 minutes of high intensity training) 9-10g/kg body weight
Extreme Exercise (greater than 4 hours of intense exercise eg: a cycling tour) 10+g/kg body weight
Training over 1 hour means you should have some carbohydrate intake DURING the exercise 30-60g per hour
KICK STARTING RECOVERY - During the 2 hour post-exercise period, consume 1g/kg body weight of moderate to high GI food.MOST IMPORTANT - But if you train twice a day, this is ESSENTIAL!
What does 30g of Carbohydrate look like?
2 slices of bread
1 average bread roll
3 weet bix
1.5 cups cooked lentils
600ml of Milk
2 tblsp of susteagen powder
2 medium apples
1 medium to large banana
1 cup of pasta
0.5 cups baked beans
0.75 cup of cooked rice
0.5 cup creamed rice
10 Jelly Beans
500ml sports drink
0.67 Power Bar
* Check labels on your foods and ensure you use low fat varieties where possible
The Glycaemic Index
Carbohydrates are all different and will be absorbed and used at different rates and the effect of other items in your body, such as fat may slow down the absorption of the carbohydrate even more. The glycaemic index was developed to describe the effects of foods on your blood sugar levels by how quickly the carbohydrate is absorbed from your small intestine into your bloodstream, and this is found to make a difference to training and recovery.
Foods with a low GI (glycaemic index) will provide a glucose response for longer and a high GI will provide more of a rapid energy. To find out more about Glycaemic Index, refer to the Glycaemic Index website available at http://www.glycemicindex.com which is written by the University of Sydney and provides a range of information about the glycaemic index of foods and what it means to you.
The most important thing to remember is that choosing low GI foods should NOT be confused with low Carbohydrate foods, as an athlete, you want to keep your carbohydrate level high.
Considerations to be made on Carbohydrate Consumption
- Duration and Intensity of Exercise
Exercise lasting less than an hour
Provided you have enough glycogen stores and have eaten a meal with carbohydrate 2-4 hours before exercise, you should only require water and not require any further intake of carbohydrate. If you are racing though, you can delay fatigue by consuming carbohydrate during exercise to assist with the high intensity and delay fatigue.
Exercise over an hour
Racing and high intensity training increases the requirements
for carbohydrates and increases the need to
replenish the valuable muscle glycogen stores
In the first hour of exercise, most of the carbohydrate energy comes from muscle glycogen (which you have looked after your stores by eating a good amount of carbohydrates in your daily diet). After an hour your muscle glycogen stores deplete rapidly and exercising muscles will use carbohydrate from another source, they will go to the bloodstream to grab any blood sugar (glucose they can find). After around 2-3 hours your muscles will be fuelled by blood glucose and fat...but have you ever hit the wall? This is your own fault......eventually blood glucose supplies dry up, blood glucose comes from amino acids and liver glycogen and once this runs out you just cannot keep going at the same intensity...you begin to feel tired, light headed and your muscles just don’t work any more....it just gets too hard to keep going and on the bike it is an effort to turn the pedals.
SO BEFORE fatigue sets in you need to take some action. Your muscles can take up around 30-60g of carbohydrate in an hour during aerobic exercise, so it is important to consume some energy during exercise. Medium to high GI foods are generally best as they move quickly into your bloodstream and therefore become available for these working muscles. Sports drinks and energy gels are a choice for many athletes to replenish energy stores.
A study in 2003, demonstrated that consuming a drink containing protein and carbohydrate improves endurance to a greater extent than carbohydrate alone. The study of cyclists showed they were able to exercise for 36% longer by consuming a carbohydrate/protein drink before exercising then every 20 minutes during exercise than just a carbohydrate drink. Other studies have suggested that consuming protein and carbohydrate during exercise improves recovery and results in less muscle damage. Most of these trials used a ratio of around 4:1 carbohydrate:protein. So for every 40g of carbohydrate, the drink would have 10g of protein. Check the labels of your foods to find items that will suit your requirements. You also need to find foods that don't cause you unnecessary discomfort. Bloating, nausea and headaches are some side effects caused by foods, so ensure you practice during training with the foods that you plan on using during racing to eliminate any unnecessary side effects
Factors that influence your recovery include:-
1. How much your glycogen stores were depleted. Were they good before you started and did you eat along the way?
2. Muscle damage
If you fully deplete your glycogen stores, they can take anything up to a week to fully restore. Ask a marathon runner, when they feel recovered enough to take on another one.
If your muscles get damaged from intense efforts, or heavy weights, glycogen storage may be delayed.
Finally as your fitness improves your body's adaptation to ensuring the glycogen storage levels are at optimum improves.
Within a few hours after exercise (without fail), you should begin your replenishment of the muscle glycogen stores. Think - a shake, or a sandwich, cereal, fruit, and if you have the milky options, your body is getting the protein which will help with muscle recovery too. A high carbohydrate meal eaten within 15 minutes of the end of a training session will accelerate the rate of glycogen storage by 300 per cent. You have a window of approximately 2 hours after training to replace carbohydrate to ensure that your muscles will accumulate glycogen.
I mentioned the benefits of
chocolate milk in a previous blog post
IMPORTANT CARBOHYDRATE POINTS-
· High Carbohydrate diet, will assist with muscle -glycogen storage which helps with endurance and delays fatigue.
· Read about GI index to understand why some foods are better for stabilising glucose and therefore energy levels than others.
· High workload/intense efforts require additional carbohydrate
· Don't forget to "top-up" carbohydrates during longer training sessions, during races.
· RECOVER faster by replenishing your muscle-glycogen storage.
· Protein will assist with recovery and endurance
· Although I haven't mentioned it here, carbo-loading (later topic) can improve endurance capacity by up to 20%.....it is that muscle-glycogen level AGAIN!
DeCastella. R., Clews.W., (1996). Smart Sport - The Ultimate Reference Manual for Sports People. Paragon Printers.
Bean, A. (2010). Sports Nutrition (6th Edition ed.). London: A & C Black Publishers Limited.
Wahlqvist, M. L. (Ed.). (2002). Australia and New Zealand Food & Nutrition (2nd ed.). Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin.
Whitney, E., & Rolfes, S. R. (2008). Understanding Nutrition (11th ed.). Belmont CA: Thomson Wadsworth.