Here are five pro tips to help you maximize your race day performance with optimal nutrition. We chat through supplements, hydration, electrolytes, carbohydrates, protein, sour patch kids, and even beer. There are many ways to prepare your nutrition for a race weekend, I believe the easiest approach is to keep it simple. The video has all the details broken down. Below the video is some high level thoughts pulled out for quick reference.
Tip #1: Race day nutrition starts the week before your event
If you want to be primed and ready for your race come race day, preparation starts in the days leading up to your event. Not only do you need to have your bike and gear ready to go, but you need to have your body and mind prepared as well. This starts with simply adding a few more calories of Carbohydrates and Protein during the pre-race week. In simple terms, 15-20 grams extra of protein (2-3 oz of chicken breast), while adding in 30-40 grams extra of carbohydrates (one cup of rice), per day. If you can add this post-training session, that’ll be even better to aid in recovery pre-race.
“You can’t out train a bad diet.”
Tip #2: Carbohydrates are your friend
Due to the activities you’re about to undergo in a race situation, you want the simplest process possible to transfer energy throughout the body. Our body can leverage Proteins and Fats for this, but Carbohydrates are the most effective macronutrient at helping the body transfer energy quickly. Slower burning carbohydrates 2-3 hours before your race help build up glycogen stores in your muscles and liver, while faster burning carbohydrates should be consumed 45 min to an hour before the green flag. See tip #4 for on-the-bike formula.
“All sugars are carbohydrates, but not all carbohydrates are sugars.”
On the bike carbohydrate options
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Tip #3: No new foods on race weekend
New foods aren’t a good idea because you don’t know how your body is going to react. If you get an upset stomach, or diarrhea, you’re going to be losing a lot of water on the toilet. Part of planning for a race weekend from tip #1 is knowing what your travel will look like, and what snacks or drinks you’ll need to bring. This will keep your from wandering around a Buc Ee’s in a famished state (which is dangerous) looking for any and all things to consume. Also, don’t trust your friends new supplement company he just started on race weekend. I’m sure he means well, but save the samples he just gave you for a training ride where you can afford to realize you forgot to pack toilet paper.
“That gas station burrito was NOT a good idea!”
Tip #4: Hydration and Electrolytes
Electrolytes help our muscles work properly, and they aid in energy production. They also help balance fluid inside and outside of the cells. This tells us that we need to drink water, and we need to take in Electrolytes, because we’re going to use our reserves, we’re going to sweat, and we’re going to pee. Leveraging a Carbohydrate + Electrolyte supplement here can work for a lot of riders. There are many supplements (not all are created equal) that have Carbohydrates and Electrolytes ready in a power form. This keeps it simple for you as you can add these to your hydration bladder for on the bike consumption.
I believe consuming Protein, or leveraging Essential Amino Acid’s (EAA), are important for those of us that are on the bike for longer than an hour because we need to repair muscles throughout our event. Yes, this takes energy to process, but for the long time on the bike, I believe consuming small amounts of Protein is worth it.
Every hour you’re active, consume 600ml of water, 30g of Carbohydrates, 15g of Protein, and electrolytes.
Tip #5: Recovery starts immediately after your event ends
Recovery begins immediately after your event is over. It’s best to get Carbohydrates and Protein into the system within the first 30 minutes after you’re done. Having a protein shake ready to go is a great idea, it can include Carbohydrates and Electrolytes so you’re replenishing everything your body is looking for. Recovery is still happening for the rest of the day, if not for days after your event. So be diligent about listening to your body and replenishing everything you just utilized.
“Beer can be great for recovery, but it can also be the worst thing for recovery!”
Recovery Drink Options
Bonus Tip: Start small; It’s all about consistency
If this feels like a lot, don’t freak out. Start small, pick one thing to focus on a start playing with it. Once you feel you understand it, or have found a process that works for you, try adding another element to your race day process. We’re looking for consistency over everything else here. If you try to add all of this to your race weekend, you run the risk of burning yourself out and quitting all together.
“Nutrition can be simple, but simple doesn’t mean easy.”