Ride better with these health and nutritional tips

Becoming a stronger cyclist in the fall and winter seasons

By Joanie Caron

We have had a wonderful summer, filled with sunny days, making our rides just that much more enjoyable. The upcoming transition to the off-season is a great time to reflect on the goals we had set prior to the season starting.

This critical exercise will not only help you get to know yourself better, but also identify the resources you may need to invest in order to improve or become a more complete athlete. Even though it seems simple, this requires some honesty, and some time devoted to reflecting on the following two key points:

  • Goals: What were my goals entering this past season? Did I achieve them or partially achieve them? Were they realistic? What were my barriers to achieving them? 
  • Strengths and Limitations: Which areas of cycling did I feel strong in? What held me back? Where did I hesitate?

The areas we need to improve on are usually the ones we are less keen to spend time or energy investing in. However, this is where gains occur, so work on these twice as much as your strengths. For example, focusing on sprinting requires threshold workouts, but it also requires short, high intensity workouts. You may need to reach out for help to identify these areas and plan training accordingly.

In conjunction with that evaluation, I also encourage you to take some down time with your non-cycling friends and family, and maybe try some new activities such as hiking, yoga or pilates, in order to keep you balanced. Enjoy the ride!

Joanie Caron, M.Sc. Kinesiology, Integra IPS
Exercise physiologist (M.Sc Kinesiology) and professional cyclist, Joanie is currently racing for the Canadian Paralympic team as a pilot, as well as the US based squad DNA p/b K4 Racing. She is an associate coach at Integra IPS with the goal of supporting riders of all levels, and also a PowerWatts coach at Fortius Centre.

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Fueling your body right in the off season

By Melanie Ackerley

As the cycling season begins to taper off for many of you, the off-season training regimes begin to take over. Tweaking your fueling habits to complement your type of training will be key towards achieving your health and fitness goals. Here are a few considerations to making sure how and when your body receives the right nutrition.

Pre-workout: A pre-workout meal should include carbs, moderate protein, and only a slight amount of fat. Choose foods that are easily digestible and familiar. Experiment with variety and jot down in a journal what you ate along with rating your performance. Remember to drink water and take fluids. A pre-workout snack should include simple fruits (not refined) and carbs that are easy to digest. Avoid lots of fluids.

During and after workout: Aim to consume 0.5 - 1L of fluids for every pound of bodyweight lost during exercise. Ideally, consume 1 cup of fluids for every 15 minutes of activity lasting more than 1 hour. Supplement with a carbohydrate-electrolyte solution (CHO) to maintain blood glucose levels every 30 minutes. Post workout re-hydration is integral, and consuming a 4 carb to 1 protein snack will help glycogen re-storage. Consider fruit with nuts and seeds or plain yogurt, a natural energy bar or protein powder with water and a banana. 

Pre-workout fueling prior to activity

  • 3 - 4 hrs: Complex carbs, some protein and fat
  • 2 hrs: Complex carbs and quality protein
  • 1 hrs: Fruit, or fluid with CH
  • 5 - 10 min: Fluids

Post-workout fueling after activity

  • Within 45 min: Mostly carbs, fresh fruits with a little protein (nuts/seeds)
  • 2 - 4 hrs: Balanced meal with complex carbs, quality protein and fat

Sports supplements can be found in many forms such as engineered foods (manipulated into supplement form), protein powders, creatine monohydrate, weight gainers, and drinks for nutrition, activity and recovery. What to consume, when, and how much, all play a factor in performance and training throughout the entire year. Coming off endurance training and into more strength training session, altering your macro-nutrient intake to match your caloric output will be key towards maintaining energy levels and a healthy waist line.

Protein powders: How much daily protein do we need? Typically 1.4 to 1.7 g/kg of your body weight. For example a rider that weighs 180lbs would use this calculation, 82kg x 1.7g = 139 grams. Be aware there are related risks with too much protein which can include dehydration, loss of calcium, potential weight gain and added stress to the kidneys and liver.

There are many types of powders to choose from such as whey, brown rice, hemp, soy, and/or pea. While individuals may have their particular dietary preferences (or restrictions) keep in mind to look for powders with limited artificial flavours and sweeteners, ones which are organic or non-GMO source, and contain digestive enzymes.Calorie restricted athletes may benefit from powders to manage weight and calorie control without sacrificing protein intake.

Creatine: Found in supplements and in meat sources, aim to intake 2 grams a day. Although helps to build strength, supplements alone will not help build muscle or improve performance and should be paired with high intensity training for results. Creatine does not enhance endurance activity. Consider taking this as a short term supplement (up to 20 days) periodically, because the body does limit its storage, and too much can add stress on kidneys.

Ergogenic aids: Taken to enhance activity, caffeine and energy drinks can help benefit in endurance sports but not power or strength. Also, amino acids such as L-glutamine, carnitine, arginine, ornithine, glycine, lysine, herbs and super foods such as green tea, maca root, ginseng, bee pollen, and salba.

Drinking caffeine can have its benefits and positive effects, but also remember it is acidic and can leach minerals from bones. A good rule of thumb is to closely examine your diet first before adding supplements to enhance performance.

Melanie Ackerley, Certified Personal Trainer, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Better Bodies Health Solutions
Driven by facilitating the achievement of others, Melanie develops and delivers various nutrition guide programs, and understands the role good nutrition plays for optimal performance. Melanie also works with the Vancouver General Hospital's Mental Health Unit as the organizing body for their health and wellness derivative. 

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