Nutritional mistakes made by cyclists
Common nutritional mistakes made by individuals on our cycling trips
Whilst it is obviously important to eat healthily and avoid fatty foods where possible, a large proportion of the individuals on our cycling trips assume that they need to eat excessive amounts before rides to ensure they have sufficient energy throughout the day. Far from improving their performance, however, eating too much can have a decidedly negative impact on their cycling ability, particularly if they fail to leave at least an hour between eating and riding. As we inform them during all our cycling courses, the digestive system requires time to turn food into energy, and this in turn requires blood. As such, if you start cycling before your body has finished digesting, your muscles won't receive the level of blood they need, resulting in poor performance.
Another common mistake made by those on our cycling trips is carrying sugary drinks, particularly soft drinks. Although their high sugar content may give you a 20 minute boost, this will be swiftly followed by a significant dip in energy levels, leaving you with less energy than before! Similarly, chocolate and confectionaries have the same effect. Far better is to carry an energy bar, pieces of fruit or a sandwich instead, as these will release energy slowly and can usually be fitted into pockets just as easily.
One product that has become increasingly popular with cyclists in recent years (both on and off our cycling trips) is energy gel packets. Small and able to be consumed without having to stop, some cyclists use up to three of them per hour! However, whilst great for the gel companies, this rate of consumption can wreak havoc with the acidic balance in your stomach. Instead, as you will discover if you decide to join us on one of our many cycling trips, I generally recommend that individuals take these gel packets only when they are likely to be in need of a real boost working around 15 minutes after intake (five kilometres before a large ascent, for example). Further, each gel packet should also be accompanied by an intake of at least 250ml of water.
by Martin Birney, 10/11/2013