At the Start
Ample hydration and proper nutrition are two key ingredients for a successful ride event. Below are some tips and tricks from a wellness dietitian, to help you fuel up for a great Obliteride!
When it comes to sports nutrition for endurance events, there are a few key essentials:
- Take in enough energy (calories)
- Keep blood sugar and energy stores up
- Stay well hydrated
- Time meals and snacks for optimal performance
This article will guide you through the basics of each.
1. Take in enough energy
It goes without saying that if you don’t put enough energy into your body’s theoretical fuel tank, you won’t be able to complete the event at your best. Know that you will be burning a significant amount of calories during Obliteride and will likely need to increase your food intake from your usual diet. Both in your training and during the event, practice being a mindful eater and listen to your body’s need for more energy.
2. Keep blood sugar and energy stores up
Typical intensity level during an endurance event is moderate intensity. At a moderate intensity level, the majority of energy your body uses comes from fat and carbohydrates. Although it may seem logical to increase fat in your diet to fuel your bike ride, it is not necessary and can greatly decrease your performance.
The average amount of calories from fat that is readily available in our bodies ranges from 50,000 to 100,000 calories, so rest assured you won’t run out! What you very well could run out of, however, are carbohydrates. Average storage capacity of carbohydrates is 1,800 calories, in a fully fueled body. Since half of your energy usage is from carbohydrates, it is essential to refuel these throughout and after your ride. So take advantage of both rest and meal stops. Be careful to not overdo fat and protein just before and during your rides as these can slow stomach emptying, increasing discomfort and delaying energy availability from carbohydrates.
3. Stay well-hydrated
The goal with hydration is to drink enough fluid to avoid thirst. With shifts in terrain and/or temperature, your body may require more fluids than you anticipate. Make sure to go into each ride interval fully hydrated, and continue to hydrate throughout the ride. A general goal is to aim for 5-10 ounces every 15-20 minutes. Be sure to carry extra water bottles, filled with sports drink or water. If you are snacking on carbohydrate-containing foods, water is a sufficient fluid. If not, make sure to hydrate with a sports drink.
4. Time meals and snacks for optimal performance
Make sure to allow time for digestion of meals before cycling. A general rule is that the closer you get to exercising, the smaller your meal should be. Ideally, if you have a large meal, wait at least 2-3 hours before starting your ride. If you only have 1-2 hours before a ride, stick with a smaller meal.
During your ride, aim for snacks that provide 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour, either in the form of a sports drink or supplement (e.g., CLIF bar) or snack. If opting for the food or supplement choice, make sure to drink plenty of water! Remember to minimize fat and protein, especially just before or during your ride.
Crossing the finish line
These are just a few of the general recommendations for getting you to the finish line in the best shape possible. Make sure to practice all of the above during your training sessions so that you can feel confident in your fueling and hydration plan.
Best of luck at Obliteride!
About Chelsey Lindahl
Chelsey Lindahl is a registered dietitian specializing in wellness and weight management at MultiCare Center for Healthy Living in Tacoma, Wash. In addition to counseling clients, Chelsey conducts nutrition, wellness and cooking presentations throughout the organization and community. She also coordinates events focused on spreading the message of healthy living throughout the community.