Basic eating for basic training

By Monique Ryan, MS, RD from Velonews

Many cyclists are currently building their aerobic endurance, muscular strength, and flexibility in anticipation of more specific training in the coming weeks and months. Just as this training cycle requires you follow a specific mix of volume and intensity, your nutritional intake must match up so that you have the required energy and fluids at the most optimal times for your training and recovery.

As you continue to build your volume, your energy and carbohydrate requirements increase. During this base cycle, you may also be interested in losing weight. This is a good time of year to adopt nutritional habits that result in gradual weight loss so that you do not have to restrict calories when training really picks up in intensity. For each training cycle, you need to consider your nutritional requirements for energy, carbohydrate, protein, fat, and fluid strategies.

While estimating energy needs is both a science and an art, a few generalizations can be made to assist you in determining your energy needs. If you want to lose weight, a mild restriction is 300 calories daily for a weight loss of approximately half-a-pound weekly, and 500 calories for one pound weight loss weekly. Greater calorie restrictions can produce more weight loss, but could also compromise your energy levels and recovery.

Obviously within this current training cycle you can experience various types of workouts during the week and weekends. Energy requirements for maintenance can be based on training time:

12-14 calories per pound: Mild activity with no purposeful training or exercise (day off)
15-17 calories per pound: One hour training at moderate intensity
18-24 calories per pound: One to two hours at moderate intensity
25-30 calories per pound: Several hours of training daily

Carbohydrate of course along with fat is a steady fuel supply during any type of low to moderate intensity training. Carbohydrate needs need to match training in order to replace the muscle glycogen that you burn for fuel.

2.25-3.0 grams/lb.: Moderate intensity training for one hour or very low intensity for several hours

3.0-4.5 grams/lb.: Greater than 90 minutes daily at moderate intensity. Consume from the high end of the range for several hours of moderate intensity.
These carbohydrate requirements include both the types of carbohydrates found in sports drinks and gels and consumed during training, as well as the whole grains, fruits, and vegetables that make-up a balanced training diet. Timing your carbohydrate intake properly also supports your training efforts. In the two hours before longer training sessions consume up to 50-75 grams of carbohydrate. Pay attention to recovery nutrition and consume 0.5 g/lb. carbohydrate after longer training sessions. You can also add in 10-15 g of protein to your recovery snack. You can consume the same nutritional amounts again in 2 hours after longer training sessions.

Your protein requirements are a reflection of the increased volume of training and your efforts to build muscular endurance. Aim for 0.5 to 0.7 grams/lb. weight- an amount easily obtained in a well-balanced diet.

Healthy fats should round out your calories at no more than 0.5 grams/lb. body weight.

Meeting your fluid requirements during training is important. While sweat losses may not be as striking as in the warmer months, even a small amount of dehydration can have a negative impact upon your performance. Maintain daily hydration. Your urine should be pale yellow in color if you are adequately hydrated. Urine is more concentrated and darker in the morning, and can be darker if you take a multivitamin/mineral supplement.

Estimating your sweat losses during this early-season cycle is still important. You can determine how your sweat rate may vary for different workouts, whether indoors or outdoors.  Practice drinking during training to match your sweat losses. If you are losing more than 2 lb. during a specific training session, you are experiencing significant dehydration during training. Your fluid losses can still be significant during cold weather rides.

You can also pre-hydrate with up to 20 ounces of fluid in the two hours before training and top it off with 8-10 ounces of fluid in the 20 minutes before training. A sports drink can be consumed immediately before and during exercise. During steady training lasting longer than 90 minutes consume 4 to 8 ounces of sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes (or try to match sweat losses as closely as possibly) to maintain hydration. You can consider using a sports drink during shorter duration workouts if it improves the amount of fluid that you consume (due to the flavor) and you have not consumed any fuel in the two hours prior to training. After training rehydrate- consuming 20-24 ounces of fluid per pound of weight loss should restore fluid levels.

Sample menu for cyclist
90 minute indoor cycle at 6:00 p.m.
165 lb. male
3300 calories, 500 g carbohydrate (61%), 115 g protein (14%), 92 g fat (25%)

Breakfast (7:00 am)
Oatmeal, cooked, 1 cup
Raisins, 2 Tbsp.
Dairy or soy milk, 8 ounces
Banana, 1 small Juice, 12 ounces

Snack (10:00 am)
Yogurt, 6 ounces
Apple, 1 medium
Almonds, 12

Lunch (1:00 pm)
Turkey, 4 ounces
Bread, whole grain, 2 slices
Avocado, 2 slices
Orange, 1 medium
Bean and rice mix, 1 cup
Raw vegetables, 1 cup

Snack (3:00 pm)
Crackers, whole grain, 10
Hummus, 4 tbsp.
Pear, 1 large

Bike training- 90 minutes at moderate intensity (6:00 pm)
Sports drink, 24 ounces per hour Total of 36 ounces

Dinner (8:00 pm)
Fish, 4 ounces
Sweet potato, 1 large
Broccoli, steamed, 1 cup
Salad, 2 cups
Salad dressing, light, 4 tbsp.

Snack (9:30 pm)
Yogurt, frozen, low fat, 2/3 cup
Frozen berries, 1 cup


copyright 2005 - Team David Salon