Part 2 to the Training Zones: What, Why, and How
Nutrition around training can seem like a daunting, complex task. However, there are a few simple rules you can follow to clean it up and develop positive habits for fueling better.
Not every ride, run, or workout needs the same amount or type of fuel. For example, our goals in the base season (usually the low intensity, aerobic foundation-building phase) involve targeting a much more oxygen-dependent energy system. Zones 1-2 rely more heavily on fat as a fuel source and O2 to break it down. While carbohydrates are definitely still important, guzzling sugar may not be advantageous to the goals of that training.
Meanwhile, as we shift into more threshold-challenging workouts the energy system (and thus fuel source changes). That means we're spending time in zones that need carbohydrates predominantly and ingesting fat/protein/fiber may be counterproductive.
Fuel the Work: meet the demand at hand with the appropriate fuel. Don’t skimp on your meals around big training days and be pre-fueled. If it is a low intensity, shorter session, then maybe hydration mix like Skratch Labs is more ideal. Need a snack? Then grab for something simple but not aimed at pure short-term performance, like a gel.
For more demanding days, keep the energy coming in early and often. This is where the Feed Fueling Formula (FFF) comes into play: aim for up to 80g/carbs an hour so you are able to optimize that session...and encourage recovery.
Then, adjust the staple meals throughout your day to accommodate your current goals.
Flexibility: for intense days/intervals/races, the energy demands will be largely CHO and thus the fueling should be. In addition, keeping it simple these days is helpful for utilization. I focus on easy (mostly liquid) fuel sources during these sessions to optimize my carbohydrate intake. I'll pack things like the Maurten Gel 100, their Drink 160/320, or Skratch Superfuel for when I'm going to be on the gas.
On the other hand, I balance the longer, endurance days with more “real food” that are a bit more complex and sustaining. Having the ability to function without simple sugar dumps is advantageous to long-term metabolic flexibility and efficiency. I might pack a crispy treat, banana, Maurten SOLID, or simple bar.
Hydrate: training in the blistering summer heat day in and day out will wear a body down. Try to pre-load If you can, by having an electrolyte mix or tabs on hand before your training; this can reduce the impact the heat plays on you as training starts.
Keep the fluids coming in during training/racing AND make sure to keep electrolytes coming in post-training. It’s easy to just drink water, but only having water may dig you into a hole.
Practice your Plan: don’t just hop into events ripping wrappers off of untested products. Try these things out in your training days and see what, how much, and when they work best for you. Additionally, if you are a performance-focused athlete, work on your ability to improve carbohydrate intake...shooting for that 80g/hr mark.
One of the hallmarks of The Feed is the ability to order single servings of products, so you can try whatever you want!