cycling tips - cycling nutrition during training and racing everything you need to know
Nutrition during competition is necessary in all those sports in which the effort lasts for many hours. The ingestion of food, therefore, serves to replenish liquids, eliminate the sense of hunger and finally replenish the energy spent during the race.
It is important to point out that correct nutrition during competition does not improve our specific performances, but allows us to achieve and maintain our best performances for a long time.
Another mistake not to make is to think that abundant nutrition during the race helps us not feel fatigue. In fact, competition nutrition serves as a temporary replenishment of spent energy and not as an accumulation of energy: excessive nutrition, therefore, is not only useless, but counterproductive as it subjects the body to useless and laborious ingestion assimilation of foods that are then not used. The objective, therefore, is to ingest a correct amount of calories, equal to those consumed.
Nutrition during the race is, therefore, strictly dependent on the pace of the race itself, the environmental conditions in which the competition takes place and its actual duration. In general, we can say that in races lasting up to two hours, the ingestion of only liquids composed of mineral salts and carbohydrates is sufficient, preferably if rapidly assimilated, given the brevity of the competition.
Solid meals, consisting of energy bars, can be assimilated in the first half of the race, but they are not really essential, in fact, it would be better to avoid them as the correct diet in the days preceding the race has already constituted a sufficient energy reserve for the entire race. When the race time extends up to 4 hours, then it is better to add energy bars, to be taken up to about an hour before the end of the race. At this distance, mineral salts, especially in summer, are essential for the entire duration of the race, while maltodextrins can be taken up to approximately one hour - thirty minutes before the end. At the end, one hour - thirty minutes from the end, it is better to ingest only mineral salts and a drink consisting of a fructose solution with a maximum concentration of 6%.
However, when the race reaches or exceeds 6 hours then the ingestion of solid foods, even complex ones, is essential, which allow us to correctly reintegrate the energy spent. In this case it is better to prefer the ingestion of complex carbohydrates, with little fat and a moderate intake of proteins (especially if the race lasts six hours or more). Fruit tarts, low-fat snacks and small sandwiches with defatted ham are ideal; to ban other more complex and especially fatty foods. Ingestion of these more complex foods should occur after one third of the race and end two thirds of the way through the competition. In fact, it would be useless to ingest solids that require at least two hours for their assimilation when there is less than that time left until the end of the race.
From a physiological point of view, it would be better to dilute the ingestion of such solid foods in the period of time specified above, but this is not always compatible with the pace of the race and the route. It is therefore better to plan the ingestion of these foods according to the responses of your body, the altitude profile of the route and the progress of the race. The frenetic pace, however, must not make us forget that correct nutrition is essential to remaining competitive until the last kilometres.
Often, in fact, it seems that we don't have time to eat or that this damages us by distracting us from the progress of the match and from controlling our opponents; it's just a question of habit and mental attitude: you win a race (or more simply complete it) also thanks to correct nutrition. Also in this case, finally, only experience and experiments will teach us what the correct dose of nutrition for our body is in competition.
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