Nutrition and cycling – 5 mistakes to avoid + 1
Proper nutrition is important in general, but in sport it is even more important.
Our intention today is to debunk some myths and give ad hoc advice: too often we do things just because we have heard them said and we have never asked ourselves if they are right or not.
Let’s start with breakfast, the first and most important meal of the day, especially before a race.
Who among us doesn’t like the typical coffee and croissant? Still, it’s not the best. I will tell you that even coffee and cereal, unfortunately, are not the best when there is a race or a competition. So many of us cyclists have learned to eat pasta for breakfast: But is it really the right choice?
If for professionals it is, considering that a race often starts mid-morning and therefore there is plenty of time to digest a good breakfast, are we sure it’s smart to get up at 4 a.m. to eat and start the race at 6 a.m.? Or, on the other hand, risk eating too late and arrive at the start line in full digestion?
Our advice, in these cases, is to eat technical and specific foods. Nowadays there are many bars on the market and it is also possible to make them at home. This will be the best option to be properly nourished, light and ready to continue eating right after the start, thus avoiding spikes and drops in blood glucose levels.
Caffeine is a substance found in coffee, but also in tea, energy drinks and especially in gels.
Clearly it is useful, as it helps concentration and overall strength but, by stimulating the kidneys, it also increases diuresis.
So what is the risk? Dehydration.
So, especially in hot weather, it’s best to try to limit caffeinated products, and if you can’t do without caffeine, you need to drink plenty of water.
3. WHEN TO EAT
Especially beginners, you may encounter avoidable mistakes.
Eating too much and too little is not good.
Remember to eat about every 45/50 minutes when you’re out for more than an hour and a half. And how? Always use technical and specific products that avoid peaks and dips.
4. HOW TO TAKE ENERGY GELS
The energy gels are a godsend: they can give a lot of energy while being very small and very comfortable to carry.
But they are very thick and for being very energetic, they are also very dense, so you have to drink a lot when you take them.
Especially in summer, if too much gel is taken, the intestine will steal all the water needed to assimilate them and so there will still be the usual risk of dehydration along with possible intestinal problems.
So, let’s remember: beware of too many gels, all together, especially in summer, without drinking water.
5. TESTING SUPPLEMENTS IN COMPETITION? NO!
I recommend that you never, ever, ever try new supplements during a race. It is very important to always have tested supplements in training sessions to really understand their effectiveness and to learn how and when to take them.
No, beer, as far as we know, is not good post-race or post-workout advice. As much as it contains maltodextrin, it is not the same as what we can normally take. Besides, alcohol means dehydration…
But I’m not Froome and, frankly, my goal is not to wear the yellow jersey on the Champs Elysees.
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