Choose your distance for a step by step fueling guide, or read on to find out how sports nutrition can boost your next bike ride.
Carbohydrate, the high energy fuel
Carbohydrate is the high grade fuel for your muscles. Unfortunately your body can only store a limited amount of carbohydrate (around 400 gram**) and that’s not enough to fuel a tough event like a sportive. Blowing up or bonking is when you have completely emptied your carbohydrate fuel tank. That doesn’t happen often, especially during shorter rides but everyone will have experienced increasing levels of fatigue in the latter stages of a longer ride. This is where your carbohydrate reserves, although not completely empty, are running low and your muscles are forced to rely more and more on fat as fuel.
Compare how strong you feel in the early stages of a ride when you have lots of carbohydrate left, to how tired you feel at the end of a tough sportive when your carbohydrate reserves are depleted. To fuel a sportive, you need to consume extra carbohydrate as you ride in the form of gels, drink and bars. Having lots of carbohydrate is what lets you ride fast and far and it’s what makes your ride enjoyable from start to finish.
2:1 fructose drinks
It seems obvious that the more carbohydrate you consume during an event, the more fuel your muscles will have available. BUT TAKE CARE! Research suggests that if you consume more than 60g per hour of the carbohydrates found in traditional* sport drinks, it will not be absorbed. This is the maximum amount that can cross the wall of your intestine and get into your blood stream. To exceed the 60g limit, you have to switch to a new generation of sport drinks based on a 2:1 fructose formulation.
The recommended intake for new generation 2:1 fructose drinks can be substantially higher, at up to 90g per hour.
Start fresh at the half way mark!
If you follow our nutrition strategy, you will have an extra 90g of carbohydrate per hour to fuel your ride. That’s a total of 450g more carbohydrate during a 5-hour sportive. Compare that to the 400g** of carbohydrate typically stored in your body at the start of an event, an extra 450g is equivalent to you starting a sportive fresh at the half-way mark!
And remember, if you cannot consume the full amount shown, then consuming 70g of carbohydrate each hour is better than 50g and that’s better than 30g. The general rule is: the more carbohydrate you can consume (up to a maximum of 90g per hour), the stronger and further you will ride.
Caffeine and performance
A moderate dose of caffeine improves sports performance. It stimulates the body’s nervous system, making you more alert, increasing concentration and reducing the feeling of effort. Research indicates that caffeine, when taken in moderation, does not add to dehydration during sport.
High5 Nutrition Guides
Applying the latest scientific knowledge, High5 has developed step-by-step nutrition guides for each sport, race distance, race day weather and athlete body-weight. The road cycling nutrition guides are practical, easy to follow and ensure the optimum performance boosting intake of carbohydrate and caffeine. If you follow these guides you will ride substantially faster and further.
* For the purpose of this discussion, a traditional energy or sports drink containing a source of carbohydrate that breaks down to glucose and contains no or little fructose.
** Based on a 75kg athlete when fresh. With carbo’ loading this figure may be raised to 600g or more