Filling the tank - pre-exercise nutrition
Have you heard that your body does not store enough carbohydrates to fuel endurance exercise? Well, I’m sorry to say, but this is probably true.
However, there are some strategies to help combat this. The first of which, is putting the right type and amount of fuel in your tank – your pre-exercise meal.
If you get your pre-exercise meal right, you will be able to exercise for longer.
You will be able to exercise for longer during training, and on event day, and it’s likely you’ll go faster as well.
So what is a good pre-exercise meal?
· It should make you feel comfortable, fit, and raring to go
· It should not cause gastro upset – avoid foods that you know causes you trouble or you are unfamiliar with
· It should be taken 1-4 hours prior to exercise
· It should favour carbohydrates with minimal fat and protein (which can cause stomach upset). About 2g of carbohydrate per kg body weight. i.e 140g of carbohydrate for a 70kg person. This may seem like a lot right now, so slowly build up to this as your training progresses.
· It should be familiar to you. You should practise this during training so you know what works by the time event day rolls around.
When should you focus on pre-exercise nutrition?
The pre-exercise meal is only important when exercise is going to be longer than 90 minutes, so really it’s just your weekly longer session which you need to worry about. A quick carbohydrate based snack (simple carbs are more easily and quickly absorbed) are fine prior to shorter training sessions, which is handy for those who train first thing in the morning.
It’s good to know that starting the occasional (about one in four) longer training session “fasted” i.e without having eaten, is a good way to train your body to use alternative sources of fuel and help you become more metabolically flexible.
So what does this look like in reality?
Here are some practical tips to help you optimise pre-exercise fueling.
For some of your weekend long rides, train at the same time as your event, and have your pre-event meal at the time you plan on eating this on event day. For example, the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge solo lap starts at 7am, so structure some training sessions around a 7am start and approximately 5am breakfast.
Quick snacks such as a slice of bread with your favourite spread, a piece of fruit, or a muesli bar can be just the right 'pick-me-up' prior to a shorter training session.
Just sip on water in the hours leading up to training
Avoid having high sugar foods in the last 30 minutes prior to exercise, these can actually cause a drop in blood sugars a little later and cause sluggishness.
The following meal options provide 120g of carbohydrate and will be suitable as pre-exercise meals prior to longer training sessions:
150mls of milk
1 piece of fruit
100g of yoghurt
2 toast with honey/jam
Eggs your way with tomatoes, spinach, or mushrooms
1/2 can of baked beans
A glass of orange juice
Hopefully you can see that it does not have to be complicated. The important thing is to practise good nutrition during training so that you are not trialing a new way of eating on the day of the event.
If you think you will be nervous prior to the event trial a liquid meal in training – these are often better tolerated.
As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch. There are different strategies to trial if you commonly suffer tummy troubles during exercise, but these vary depending on what symptoms you experience, and personalised advice is necessary.
In the mean-time, happy Trailblazing :). Remember you can get your Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge plan from the event website store for just $14.95