Herbalife Q & A | How to fuel for endurance events
This weekend Dave and I will travel to Wales to compete in a 24-hour race at Newport Velodrome Cyclone 24, riding as many laps as we can over the course of a day (and night). As part of a team that includes cyclists of differing abilities from National Track Champions to outright newbies, finding the right balance as individuals and as a cohesive group will be paramount to our success.
We’ll need to share the work on the track, taking turns to sleep, refuel, rest and hydrate and we’ll need to manage our energy output when riding the boards. We’ll need to fight the urge to go out too hard at the start in case we tyre ourselves long before 24 hours is up.
Managing our down time will take skill too. We’ll be taking yoga mats, sleeping bags and pillows so we can try to get a little shut eye in between stints on the track. In short endurance events such as this, missing a little sleep isn’t too big a deal and just making yourself comfortable, putting your feet up and resting is good enough. Which is fortunate really as I’m not sure how much sleep I’ll get in between night time sessions on the track – I’m sure my adrenalin will be sky high!
Dave and I will be packing plenty of food, drinks and snacks to keep our appetite satiated and our energy levels high. Figuring out what to eat for endurance events can be tricky, not least when there’s disrupted sleep to factor in so I spoke to the Manager of Sports Performance & Education at Herbalife Dana Ryan to get that side of the event sorted. Herbalife supply products for some of the top triathletes and cyclists in the world so they know a thing or two about fuelling for optimum performance.
How would you advise that I fuel myself this weekend? How frequently do I need to consume food and drink?
You need to fuel yourself every hour using a combination of Carbohydrates for fuel and electrolytes for hydration – something like Herbalife’s CR7 Drive would be ideal. What is really beneficial about CR7 Drive for a longer endurance event is that it has a blend of 4 different types of carbohydrates, 2 that are fast acting and 2 that are slower. This is important because with only fast or only slow carbohydrates your body can only use 30-60g of carbohydrates per hour but with both fast and slow you can use up to 90g carb per hour. For your event you can use 2-3 servings per hour.
When it comes to regular food, have you any advice?
Once you stop riding you will want to consume protein to help feed your muscles. You should provide your body with protein every few hours to help protect yourself from excessive muscle breakdown. Protein bars, lean turkey sandwiches and fruit would be good. I would avoid anything that is high fat or too acidic.
Can you explain to me what’s going on physiologically when we ride at medium intensity over long periods of time and why we need to fuel like we do?
During longer distance steady exercise your body will use its fat stores for energy. Providing it with carbohydrates is important so that it has access to faster energy during the event
How would this strategy differ to say, a two – three hour road race ridden at a high intensity?
During high intensity exercise your body’s main source of fuel is carbohydrates.
How about pre event? Is carb loading still ‘a thing?’
Carb loading is actually complicated and requires multiple days of eliminating carbs then building them up to see any real benefit. The night before, it’s actually very important to consume enough protein so that you are supplying your muscles with adequate amino acids.
Nothing should really change 48 hours before. You want to make sure you are consuming enough calories through a balance of protein, carbohydrates and some healthy fats at each breakfast, lunch and dinner. In addition you want to have a few snacks throughout the day, containing at least 10 grams of protein.
Hydration is one of the most important things to focus on during the days leading up to an event. Always keep a water bottle with you during the day and while training make sure you are replacing the electrolytes you are losing through sweat.
For endurance athletes, post workout you want a 3:1 Carbohydrate to Protein ratio with a minimum of 20g and no more than 40g of protein. Hydration is one of the most important things to focus on during the days leading up to an event. Always keep a water bottle with you during the day and while training make sure you are replacing the electrolytes you are losing through sweat.
Call me a nerd but I’ve always been really interested in this kind of thing and I hope you find the information useful if you’re planning to participate in a long distance/endurance event on the bike or otherwise. Thanks Herbalife for taking the time to speak to me and answer my questions.