Oh dear – we’ve all been there. You’re training for an event, and trying to maintain a competitive weight, or perhaps attempting to lose a couple of pounds before that super hilly sportive. You go out training, and return with the best intentions to recover with healthy, protein heavy foods. And then you eat everything in the fridge.
We spoke to Charlotte Kennedy, a sports nutritionist at Etixx, to get her advice on how to avoid that bloated ‘oops’ moment...
Should you be looking to replace the calories burned on a ride straight after it?
When you’ve been out on a long ride, you would have burned a lot of calories and therefore you don’t need to worry about trying to replace all the calories straight away. Eating that much in one go will likely make you feel sick and bloated!
Full recovery can take place over many hours following your session. Find out what works for you- some people will much prefer eating lots of small meals rather than main meals. Remember that after really long and intense rides, recovery can sometimes take a couple of days.
What are the best things to eat after a ride?
Try to get some nutrients in as soon as you finish and aim to consume a mix of carbohydrates and protein. A great way to do this is in the form of a recovery drink – Etixx have Recovery Shake which contains easily digestible nutrients that are quickly absorbed. Recovery drinks are convenient to make at the end of a ride and should be sipped over a 15-30 minute period.
From there, the main bulk of your recovery will happen in a meal around 2 hours after the end of your session. This should contain about 1g of carbohydrate per kg of body weight, 20g of protein and some vitamins and minerals. A good example might be sweet potato with oily fish and leafy green vegetables or a baked potato with tuna and side salad. Not only that, but in the hours after your ride you should remember to replace lost fluids by continually sipping on water and monitor your hydration status by checking your urine colour. Urine should be a light straw colour for optimal hydration.
How can we curb hunger if we find we are overeating after a ride?
If you find you are overeating there are a few things you can do. Firstly, try to increase the protein content of your recovery meals. Protein is a satiating nutrient meaning it will make you feel fuller. You could do this by increasing the portion size of the protein at your meal or by including some high protein snacks in your recovery plan. This could include a handful of plain nuts, high protein yogurt, boiled eggs or a glass of milk. Secondly, you can also try increase your vitamin and mineral intake. Fill at least half your plate with vegetables.
Finally, think about the reason that you are overeating. Is it because you are actually hungry or because you just want the food? Don’t use the excuse of a long ride to overindulge in high fat, refined sugar foods. Listen to your body’s hunger signals and stop eating when you feel full. Plan your recovery meals in advance and prepare the food before you go out where possible. This means that when you get back you’ll have all the right food ready in the cupboard and should help to prevent you from giving in to temptation.
What are the signs that we’re not getting enough quality nutrition post ride?
Getting the right recovery nutrients is not only important for training adaptation to occur, but it is also important for ensuring that you are correctly fuelled for subsequent sessions. There are certain things that may suggest that you are not getting enough quality nutrition and these include:
- A lack of energy in general or during your next ride - this is likely to mean that you are not eating enough carbohydrates to replace what you have used. Remember carbohydrates are the main fuel for endurance exercise and therefore maximising your muscle glycogen stores are essential. Try to increase your carbohydrate intake by adding some carbohydrate based snacks into your recovery or by slightly increasing your portion size (this could always go the other way and you could eat too much carbohydrate! If you’re constantly feeling bloated and heavy then that may be a sign to decrease how much you’re eating).
- Sore muscles- this may mean you’re not eating enough protein to support muscle maintenance and recovery. Protein is a very important part of the athlete’s diet so make sure you’re eating enough to encourage training adaptation. You should be aiming for around 1.2-1.6g per kg of body weight per day.
- Frequent illness- exercise plays a lot of stress on the immune system and in particular in the aftermath of a prolonged and strenuous session. Try to increase your intake of vitamins and minerals in this period by eating fruit and vegetables to try to boost your immune system and beat the illnesses.
Getting your nutrition right is important to you progress as a cyclist - your energy levels on the ride, and recovery. You might also like to check out:
Charlotte Kennedy is a sports nutritionist at Etixx. For more information on Etixx sports nutrition, please visit: www.etixxsports.com