7 Tips for Endurance Nutrition

Training camp isn’t just all long rides and sunshine. The beauty of being at the Cycling House is that the staff is a sweet, little band of pros and former pros – and they’re eager to share their knowledge.

Night time means cozying up in the living room for talk-time.  It’s kind of like singing around the campfire except without the campfire or singing.  I spotted two acoustic guitars here and suspect that Owen Gue probably plays, but I do not yet have definitive proof of this.

Russell Cree led our discussion last night and covered seven essential tips for eating right on the bike. There was some great new learning and I think everything came away with a revelation or two.

(These tips are straight from Russell’s notes, edited and tweaked a little)

1.  Drink plenty of water during the day. (Not just while working out!)  Half your body weight in ounces is a conservative estimate. This amount is in addition to any coffee, juice, or soda and also in addition to anything consumed during exercise.
2.  Eat 3 hours prior to the start of your event. Avoid fiber-rich food in the meal. If the event start is early in the morning, sleep is more important. Wake at a reasonable hour and then eat. Professional triathlete Brendan Halpin also added that he’ll sometimes wake up, eat, and then go back to sleep for an hour or two.
3.  During exercise, break nutrition into 3 categories: hydration, electrolytes, and calories.  We discussed this in length including general guidelines for how much of each (see below).  To control each component separately, consider doing a bottle of calories (like perpetuum), a bottle of water, and electrolytes in pill form (like endurolytes).

  • Only take in what you can absorb and digest, not what you are burning!
  • Hydration: 17-28oz maximum per hour, on average.
  • Electrolytes: 600-800mg of sodium per hour, on average.
  • Calories: 220-280 calories per hour, on average.
  • Numbers are unique to each person depending on their size, sex, body type, and the race environment.

4.  If exercising more than 2 hours, the body begins to burn protein; 10-12% of calories come from protein. If planning to exercise more than 2 hours, introduce protein from the beginning: 10-20% of calories from protein, with a 7:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio. This is where a product like Perpetuum comes into play.  Halpin puts together a stacked calorie bottle for his longer unsupported rides, loading 4 hours worth of Perpetuum into a single water bottle for slow sipping throughout the ride.
5.  Recovery nutrition is most important for day-to-day training

In the initial 15 minutes post-exercise:

  • Consume 10-15g of protein & 30-45g of carbohydrate.
  • Then 60min post-exercise do it again, for a total of 60-90 g of carbohydrate and 20-30g of protein.

6.  Whole foods are always better then supplements if possible. Eat a healthy diet!

7.  Don’t try anything new on race day! Test nutrition changes on your training days.

For more information on endurance fueling, Hammer Nutrition is a great resource.  Check their website for a wealth of free knowledge.  Other products work, too, but Hammer is a favorite here at the Cycling House and the pros and ex-pros here swear by it.

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3 comments

  1. Gregg Sweeney

    getting ready to ride 160 miles Saturday. A friend suggested that I double bike pant for the extra padding. What do you think about that idea? Thanks. Gregg

  2. Gregg Sweeney

    wanted to see about double panting for a 160 mile ride

    • Hi Gregg! I’ve also had this method recommended to me (by many reputable sources), but have not yet been able to try it. It seems smart. The furthest I’ve gone in a day is 127 and I did so one a single chamois and steel bike and was ok. There was about 8000 feet of climbing though, so I was off the saddle a lot, which I think is the most important thing. (In comparison, the 200k I did that was almost all flat nearly KILLED my butt because I wasn’t standing enough). Stand! Stretch! And… double chamois. Why not? You can always take a pair off if you get any weird chafing issues.

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