Every cyclist knows and fears the bonk. A bonk happens, when there is no more usable glycogen left in your body. You have no energy left, wobbly feet, ride like a drunken sailor and feel a little bit dizzy. What basically means: carbs are over. A gel or some sugary food usally helps out and you can ride on.
Every cyclist learns this fact. And that’s the point, where nutrition becomes a big factor in an athletes life. I always searched for a basic explanation how nutrition works especially for endurance athletes. But since I didn’t came over one yet, I made up my mind for myself..
Nutriton for training:
First you have to make sure, that your body has enough energy for training. This means you have to take in carbs. But watch out: there are two types of carbs: fast and slow burning ones. For example sugar (like in sweet drinks, dextrose or gels) are fast burning ones and give you instant energy. Slow burning carbs, like in oatmeal or whole grain pasta gives you energy little by little. For example when you eat spaghetti, it’s like you get a 100 points of energy and every hour 20 points are released for you to use.
Second: You need electrolytes. This means you have to take salt to you. I usually put a little bit in my bottles. You basically need salt to make sure, that you’re brain works properly. Amongst others it contains sodium and chloride and they will be used by your nerves.
Third: Water. Well, that’s an obvious one and the amount depends on your thirst. Your body will tell you what it needs 😉
Nutriton off the bike:
But you have to take care of your nutrition off the bike too. Your body needs time and nutrients to build up your broken muscles, to make them stronger as before. If you’re lazy here, you won’t get much better. So, what’s important?
Of course: Protein.
Protein is included in red meat, chicken, fish, milk, nuts and a few more. I personally prefer nuts, cause they’re good to snack. A few years ago I thought, that endurance athletes don’t need protein, cause they don’t want to build up muscle. Then I realized that protein is also needed to maintain muscle. And that’s the key point here. If you don’t take in protein, you’re body will get it from somewhere else in your body. In the worst case, it breaks up other muscles to build protein for the broken ones. Not good 🙂
And last but not least, you need macronutriens like calcium, magnesium, vitamin a-d and so on. They are usally included in fruits and vegetables. Broccoli, salad, tomatoes, cucumber and so on. They are needed to prevent and debuild inflammation in your body. Means: to stay healthy 🙂
So with that amount of food an endurance athlete has to eat to get better, there’s not much option for fast food 😉
Did I miss something? Or do you have a special trick in nutriton?