Fuel your Ride: Nutrition + Hydration Tips

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By Jason Brayley, M.D.

Obliteride is just a few weeks away, so I thought it would be wise to review how proper nutrition and hydration during the event will make your experience much more enjoyable.

While the USDA food pyramid is the baseline of a normal healthy diet, carbohydrate intake (such as glucose and fructose) during Obliteride will be key for maintaining proper energy during the ride. Learning how to plan for appropriate carbohydrate consumption ahead of time will make a world of difference.

Our bodies have the ability to store and use carbohydrates in a very effective manner. Our liver and muscle tissue store glycogen, a form of glucose that is stored up and then used during times of prolonged exercise. Glycogen is converted into simple glucose which will provide fuel to the working muscles. It is important to maintain a regular intake of carbohydrates while riding any of the Obliteride courses so that the liver and muscle stores of energy are not depleted—the dreaded “bonk” will ensue and potentially end a beautiful day of riding.

How much?
Consuming about 0.3-0.5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight every hour will keep a steady flow of energy to the muscles during the ride. For a 150-pound rider, this is around 45-75 grams (200-300 calories) of carbohydrates per hour. Most energy bars contain around 200-250 calories, and at least 45 grams of carbohydrates; so that’s about a bar an hour. You may also find additional fuel in gels and energy drinks, which are easy to transport and consume on the road. There are also many other easy foods to consume on the ride, such as bagels, fig bars and cookies.

Plan ahead
Make sure you find a palatable form of carbohydrates on long training rides before riding Obliteride. Trying a new food during the event may lead to undesired gastrointestinal distress.

Keep hydrated
Fluid and electrolyte (such as sodium and potassium) intake is also vitally important for an endurance bike ride based on the amount of sweat that you will produce. When riding more than an hour at a time, try to consume around eight ounces of an electrolyte replacement drink (or sports drink) every 15-20 minutes. The need for electrolyte replacement can also be more important on hot days, so remember to drink small amounts even when you don’t feel thirsty.

If you have not consumed electrolyte replacement drinks while riding before, now is the time to see how your stomach tolerates them. If you find the sports drink too concentrated, water it down slightly and you may find it easier to digest.

When the ride is over, make sure you consume around 100 grams of carbohydrates in the first hour after you finish, and then another 100 grams of carbohydrates every 2-4 hours after that. This will help you form glycogen in the muscles and liver, preparing you to start the next day’s ride!

Here’s to successful training and your final preparation for the inaugural Obliteride!

About Dr. Jason Brayley

Dr. Brayley is an avid cyclist and team physician for Kenda/5 Hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by GearGrinder, a professional cycling team that competes throughout the U.S. He’s a Sports Medicine physician treating athletes of all ages and abilities.

The legal stuff: The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. 

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