Sometimes nutrition can just seem so complicated. I think that’s because everyone thinks that everyone else know what’s going on so no one really talks about it.
I think that the general progression for most athletes consists of experiencing their first ever spectacular bonk, recognizing the need for nutrition, roaming the internet for all kind of foreign sounding nutrition products and flavors, only to finally purchase something blindly and hope that it works.
If you go through this trial and error process long enough, you’ll probably eventually try enough products and experience enough sensations to discover what works and what doesn’t. That doesn’t mean that process is comfortable and that doesn’t mean what you land on as “working” is optimal.
I think we could eliminate a whole lot of guess work if we can just provide a simple outline to get people started and then allow experimentation from there.
The nutrition label on the back of ride food can be daunting. What is the most important? What should you hone in on?
When I pick up ride food the first thing my eyes scan for are the grams of carbohydrates per serving. I don’t look at calories because if the calories are coming from fats or protein then that food isn’t going to serve the purpose that I’m after for a hard and high intensity effort on the bike.
Typically, most athletes will aim for between 30-90 grams of carbohydrates per hour on the bike. Where you fall in that range will be based on the intensity that you are working at and what size of an athlete that you are. Conveniently, NeverSecond Gels come in 30 gram increments so that I don’t have to do complicated math on the bike. I’m either eating one, two, or three gels an hour.
Carbohydrates are like rocket fuel on the bike. In fact, at intensities approximately over 70% of VO2 max, your body is primarily using carbohydrates. So if you want to go fast, start by fueling your exercise with carbs.
Consuming large amounts of fats won’t be of great help at higher intensities, and it can slow gastric emptying creating stomach stress and suppress hunger making it harder to consume the fuel that you do need in addition. Of course, there are all kind of fat adaption studies and examples, but remember, we’re just addressing the basics here.
Finally, not all types of carbohydrates are created equal. Studies have found that the most optimal blend of carbohydrates are a 2:1 glucose to fructose blend because it allows for maximum carbohydrate absorption. Simply put, more carbohydrates absorbed equals more energy to work hard and go faster.
If you’re not sure how to identify glucose vs. fructose and how to measure each in your nutrition, then you’re in luck because NeverSecond has done it for you. NeverSecond has the most optimal blend of glucose to fructose so you can be as fueled as possible in all of your training.
I hear a lot of people say that even when they are doing everything right, they still struggle to take in the right amount of nutrition to fuel their riding. Just don’t give up. It takes time for your body to adapt to consuming fuel while exercising and sometimes you simply have to train your gut. Start small and work up. You can spend a few weeks using one NeverSecond gel an hour and then build up to two.
It’s important to remember that these products are specifically designed to be easy on your gut so of everything you could use on the bike, these should be some of the easiest things to teach your body to tolerate and eventually, crave.
Finally, respect your palate. If you don’t enjoy the food in your pocket, then you’re not going to reach back for it in the middle of a hard ride. NeverSecond has a mild flavor so that it’s easy on the taste buds in the middle of a hard effort and they have a variety of flavors (and are coming out with more!) so that you don’t experience palate fatigue on your next long ride.
Just like anything else, practice makes progress. You need to practice your nutrition in the same way that your train your body to be fast on the bike. Use this simple guide to get you started and then start honing in on your individual needs and differences.
- Hannah Otto (Finchamp)