Cycling nutrition: The benefits of tailored nutrition
Cycling demands high volumes of nutrition in order to fuel the body for a ride and replenish itself afterwards. The quantity and timing of your diet will need to vary from day to day due to various factors, such as the type, timing and intensity of training on any given day.
Providing your body with the nutrition it needs requires a plan that is well-structured and tailored to your training regime and goals.
Despite often being overlooked, tailored nutrition plans which are strategically based around your training can offer a range of significant benefits to both health and performance, all of which could give you that extra edge as we highlight below...
Benefits of tailored, healthy nutrition
- Nutrient requirements (how much carbohydrate, fat & protein your body needs).
- Optimise fuelling strategies for performance (type & timing of diet).
- Increase energy levels and reduced fatigue.
- Prevent illness, injury & gastrointestinal issues (good diet = good health = better athlete).
- Achieve body composition targets (weight, body fat, lean muscle mass).
- Improve endurance and performance.
- Improve recovery (nutrition is essential for muscle repair and replenishing energy stores).
- Improve overall health, mood & sleep.
Can you improve performance by improving your nutrition?
So how can we achieve these claimed benefits through tailoring your diet? Some of those listed are relatively self-explanatory, for example understanding your nutritional requirements will allow you to know the types and quantities of food that your body requires in order to maintain a healthy weight. Similarly, under the guidance of a qualified professional, a tailored nutrition plan can help you to lose excess body fat and build lean muscle without compromising your training through restrictive dieting.
Nutrition can also offer a lot more to cyclists and this is where science really comes into play, going beyond the simplistic approaches of what to eat before and during a race. We can start to look at long-term strategies and nutritional interventions that can be used as a component of your training. Interventions can be used to achieve other beneficial changes within your body that ultimately lead to benefits such as greater power, speed, endurance and performance.
As I previously mentioned, energy demands in cycling can be huge and therefore fuelling yourself properly (be it a wedge of cake or a jam sandwich during long rides) offers the chance to really optimise your training, recovery and overall performance. For me, I see numerous cyclists and triathletes spend huge amounts on lightweight equipment yet fail to pay the necessary attention to their overall diet and body composition. As a result, these athletes fail to make significant progress or achieve the goals that they would be capable of if they were getting their nutrition right.
Nutritional requirements are never static, so knowing what to eat and when to eat it can be confusing. There are vast amounts of conflicting information on the internet regarding sports nutrition, much of it incorrect and backed up by little evidence. Tailored advice should be based upon a full nutritional assessment and delivered by a qualified nutrition professional who uses up to date scientific evidence to back up their advice.
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