If you just started to train for a race or simply you started cycling more, there are great chances that your body will require more food than usual. It might hit you in the midnight hour in the morning or in the first few hours after dinner, but one thing is sure: hunger will come when you least expect it.
Any additional exercise will cause the body to require more “fuel” and that is a thing you need to be aware of. However, many cyclists do not know exactly how to eat. So, should you start eating more or you should stick to the old 3 meals a day?
The goal is to get enough power that you can support your training without gaining weight. For this you should meet the following rules:
Immediately after the training
Eat 10-20g of protein and 20-50g of carbohydrates as soon as possible after the training.
This is the most important and effective process of nutrition. It allows a fast recovery, will replenish the body with energy and, ultimately, will be supporting your body.
Research has shown that if you eat immediately after your training it is highly likely that you won’t have another meal during that day. If you train two or more times per day this process is essential to make the most of the 2nd training session. Go for a wide and varied diet and adapt it to support the intensity of the training. For example, a slice of bread contains about 12g of carbohydrates and an egg about 6g of protein.
Before the training
If you are having lunch 3 hours before your training you don’t need to eat after that anymore. If there are more than 3 hours, eat something that contains carbohydrates 1 hour before the training. For more intense sessions, it is imperative to have a good meal before the training. Follow this rule and you will be in the best shape for the exercise.
Your plate should contain one third energy foods, one third healthy food and one third functional food. Using these proportions for breakfast, lunch and dinner will enable your body to absorb all the nutrients you need. Energy foods are those that slowly release carbohydrates. Brown rice is a good example. The healthy foods are the fruits, vegetables and salads and functional foods are those containing a large amount of protein: meat, fish, and eggs. All three categories contain good fats for the body so make sure to include oils, fish and nuts into your meals.
During the training
Your target during the training should be 60g of carbohydrates per hour. When riding you can get them from drinks, gels or sandwiches. 2-3 gels are the equivalent of 60g of carbohydrates, depending on their size.
Your overall diet should contain 5-8g carbohydrate per 1 kg of body weight, 1.5-2g protein per 1 kg of body weight and 1-2g fat per 1 kg of body weight. Follow these rules and you will train better, recover faster and get faster.