Feeding in cycling
As in any sporting activity, the right diet is a cornerstone of cycling and cycling practice.
Cycle tourism, at whatever level is meant, is a sport-recreational-philosophical practice that involves a prolonged effort of several hours.
This is why adequate nutrition is required so as not to be half-way through a crisis of hunger or thirst which makes it impossible for us to continue at a decent pace.
My goal is to provide some key concepts regarding the different characteristics of food and what are the fuels that our body requires before during and after the cycling effort.
Carbohydrates: Pasta, bread, rice …
They could define the true fuel of the cyclist: the carbohydrates in the digestive phase are transformed into glucose, which is used by our muscles to produce energy.
There are 2 types of carbohydrates: complex and simple.
While complex carbohydrates undergo various metabolic processes resulting in slow assimilation, simple carbohydrates undergo far fewer processes and are a more immediate source of energy.
In cycling complex carbohydrates are a source of nutrition of primary importance: the energy produced by them is in fact absorbed by the body slowly and progressively and therefore ideal for the need of lasting energy.
Simple carbohydrates, on the other hand, represent an excellent source of immediate energy, but their very limited duration makes them less effective if not at times when a peak of energy is required.
In a healthy diet carbohydrate should provide at least 50-60% (especially complex carbohydrates, the percentage of simple ones should be around 7-8%) of the daily caloric intake.
Protein: Meat, fish, eggs …
Proteins are transformed by our body into amino acids, which have the function of repairing tissues and building new muscles.
Fats: Dairy products, oil …
Not all fats are bad, far from it. If it is true that saturated fats slow down the metabolism and induce the increase in cholesterol, unsaturated fats are necessary for the absorption of vitamins and represent an excellent long-lasting energy source.
Some tips on sports nutrition:
It is essential to pay attention to food before, during and after physical effort:
we will need to accumulate the necessary energy reserves before tackling the effort, supply ourselves in the best way during the stage and reintegrate our body at the end of “fatigue” .
Before starting, it is advisable to take many complex carbohydrates (cereals, pasta, rice, wholemeal flour sandwiches); during it is important to eat light and easily assimilated foods with a certain continuity. Simple carbohydrates can be added to complex carbohydrates. The main foods that can be taken during the effort are cakes, sweets, bars or specific drinks and sandwiches.
After the hard work, we create the so-called “window” of 30 minutes:
half an hour in which our body accelerates the ability to use carbohydrates especially when combined with proteins. Very important than a good refueling at the end of the race: ideal are sandwiches with tuna or butter, sweets, yogurt etc …
The day after the stage, especially if it took a lot of effort, it is necessary to fill up with proteins for the reconstruction of muscle fibers.
Lastly, perhaps the most banal, but absolutely fundamental advice: during a physical effort the main integration that our body needs is liquids.
Dehydration is a phenomenon that can happen very easily if proper attention is not given to it. The advice is to hydrate you often drinking about a liter of water (perhaps with the addition of mineral salts) every 2 hours.