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Good Eating While Training


An article by Shelly Meltzer & Associates, Dietary Practice.

With all the investment that goes into the physical training for an event like the FNB Wines 2 Whales race, at least the same attention needs to be given to your nutrition. Good nutrition obviously helps to fuel you, but also allows for optimal training adaptations and recovery and will also help to optimize your performance during the race.

In this article we are focusing on the window period around your training sessions, and importantly to ensure that your overall diet is nutritious and meets your energy needs. Spend some time planning your meals each week to ensure that you are eating regularly and enjoying a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods.  Don’t forget to factor in some good sleep too!

Practicalities to consider when on the bike include:
  • the portability of food
  • your appetite while riding
  • and how your gut reacts to food during exercise.

Now is the time to test what you can tolerate during the race (everyone will be different) taking into consideration what you can store in your tent overnight, carry and consume on your bike, and what foods will be provided to you in the dining marquee, courtesy of Food Lover’s Market.  To ensure a good race it is best never to try something new on the day.

Some fruit and yoghurt or a smoothie made up with oats, yoghurt, fruit and peanut butter, a bowl of oats with sliced banana, quinoa porridge with stewed banana and cinnamon are good options to try before a ride. If doing a ride later in the afternoon you can top up your lunch time meal with a snack of fruit, date balls , wholegrain toast with almond butter and mashed banana, or a sandwich or multigrain wrap with lean protein 1-2 hours before your session. Add coffee if you want a caffeine boost.

Have a plan for the timing of your intake on the bike. Don’t wait until you are exhausted before consuming something. Snack choices and quantities will vary depending on the distance of your training ride, your appetite, work rate, hydration status, and personal preferences. For a short ride you may be able to go without eating, but once a ride is longer than 1.5 to 2 hours you will need to start topping up your fuel reserves. A good strategy is to aim to eat a small snack every hour of your ride and to keep hydrated. While bars, sports drinks and gels can be convenient options to carry there are lots of fresh, minimally processed options that can be used too.

Examples  of food options that are easy to carry include:
  • bananas
  • dates,
  • naartjies,
  • boiled baby potatoes with salt
  • and trail mix (dried fruit, coconut flakes and nuts).

Once your ride is over, recovery is your main goal and a combination of protein and carbohydrate is the ultimate mix. Flavoured milk with 1-2 pieces of fruit or biltong with fruit (e.g. sliced orange) can be easy snacks to keep in a cooler bag in the car if you’ve travelled far from home. Otherwise go for quick scrambled eggs on whole wheat toast with mushrooms and spinach or a wrap with grilled chicken and salad.

For a delicious and quick pre-training dish try this recipe for Overnight Oats with berries, honey and vanilla extract.

Or a nutritious get back on your bike post ride recovery meal, try: Chicken wrap with pea guacamole and radishes.

For a personalized diet, contact a registered dietitian with sports nutrition experience.

ARTICLE written by Shelly Meltzer & Associates, Dietary Practice associated with the Sports Science Institute of South Africa

You could win a team entry to the FNB Wines2Whales bike race by entering here: Win Wines2Whales *

*(Correct at time of writing)

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