Chia Charge is supporting a group riding from Glasgow to Benenden in Kent, via York, a 600 mile route! We asked registered nutritionist, author and ultra runner Renee Mc Gregor for her advice on how to prepare the fuelling element of the adventure.
When embarking on any new challenge,
The fundamental key to a positive outcome is organisation. Whenever I start working with a new athlete, the first thing we do is look at their schedule - this includes what training sessions they have planned; races, family commitments and potential work travel. With this knowledge, you can then start to build a picture of what types of training sessions are going to happen when.
So with an event such as LEJOG or Glasgow to Benenden, the majority of training may be long bike rides at the weekend, with shorter faster or hillier training sessions during the week.
Preparing for such an event involves considering your day to day hydration and nutritional needs but also what you plan to do during the challenge; will there be aid stations along the way and if so what will they provide? Similarly for the overnight stops – collecting this information helps you to understand what your body and muscles work well on. I have so many athletes that feel they must eat a large plate of pasta the night before a race/competition/challenge because that is what they have read. Trying out what works for you as an individual is half the battle because then you know you can go into the event, feeling like you’ve controlled all the controllables.
Carbohydrate is the only fuel that the body can convert quickly enough into glucose to provide this energy.
So based on that then what makes a good training diet? Again many people are aware of eating carbohydrate for energy and protein for recovery but it’s a little more complicated than that! One huge consideration is what training am I doing today, tomorrow and the next day? In this way you can then periodise your nutrition accordingly. So before high intensity turbo/hill sessions or very long endurance rides of over 3 hours, it will be important to fuel up with carbohydrate in the 24-36 hours prior to training. This is because in order for our muscles to maintain this high intensity or long endurance it needs a constant source of energy; carbohydrate is the only fuel that the body can convert quickly enough into glucose to provide this energy.
So what does this look like? This will vary on your gender, weight and also your body composition goals but for a ball park figure I tend to recommend 1g/Kg BW carbohydrate per meal and around 0.5g/Kg BW carbohydrate per snack. So for a 70Kg male this will be a total of around 350g of carbohydrate leading up to a high intensity session spread over this 24-36 hour period. It is also equally important to recover from this high intensity session in order to start rebuilding glycogen stores, which will now be depleted.
If however you are doing an easy/recovery training session or it’s a rest day, while I’m not a big advocate of diets very low in carbohydrate, you will benefit from taking on slightly smaller portions of carb
When it comes to recovery, for most people recovering at your next meal using a combination of carbohydrate and protein will be sufficient; aiming for 1-1.2g/Kg BW carbohydrate and 0.4g/Kg BW protein is ideal. So again for a 70Kg individual this will be 70-84g carbohydrate and 28g of protein. One example is a wholegrain bagel, 3 eggs scrambled with a glass of milk.
If however it is over two hours until your next meal or you are training again within 12 hours, you will benefit from taking on your recovery choice within 30 minutes of finishing your session and choosing something that is easily digestible such as 500ml milk.
So why milk?
I’m a real fan of milk as a recovery food as it has the perfect balance of carbs, protein, electrolytes and hydration. However not all milk is the same. We have recently seen an explosion of dairy alternatives on our supermarket shelves from almond to hemp. The rise of the food/celebrity blogger has meant that these milks have become very in vogue as the go to choice. However from a nutrition aspect, these milk alternatives are completely devoid of any value what so ever!
So what about the event day itself? My number one rule, don’t try anything new as everybody will respond individually to different foods. For this reason, it is important that you practise with any products you think you will want to use during a race.
Key is keeping on top of your hydration and taking on regular fuel
For a 3 day event such as this, the key is keeping on top of your hydration and taking on regular fuel; I recommend around 60-90g of carbs an hour and 150-250ml fluid, ideally with electrolytes every 20 minutes.
Some good suggestions include: (figures in brackets are carbohydrates in grams)
After each day make sure you focus on re-hydrating and restoring your glycogen stores by consuming a mixed meal of carbs and protein – some good options include jacket potatoes with tuna; chicken stir fry with noodles; vegetable chilli with rice or roasted vegetables with pasta and mozerella.
Good luck with your training and preparation.
Renee McGregor is a leading Performance and Clinical dietitan, accredited by the Health professions Council, The Sports, Exercise and nutrition register and a member of The British Dietetic Associations, Sports Nutrition group. With years of experience and expertise in sports nutrition, she advises athletes from amateur to professional and Olympic level. She is presently working with GB Wheelchair Basketball, Wheelchair Fencing, Atremis Offshore sailing Academy and many individual GB individual endurance athletes. Additionally, Renee works as a specialist in the clinical field of eating disorders, and holds the position of Nutrition Lead at the charity Anorexia & Bulimia Care.
She has presented at conferences, spoken on radio and podcasts, and written guest blogs and articles for national publications about her expertise, and has developed the Eat Well Feel Fab brand (http://eatwellfeelfab.co.uk/)
She is the author of Training Food: Get the Fuel You Need to Achieve Your Goals Before, During and After Exercise (Nourish, 2015), which became Amazon’s #1 bestselling book in the fitness training section.