5 Things You Didn’t Know About Nutrition For Mountain Biking
Julie Cornelius, MS - Nutrition Coach and Co-Founder of Potential Energy Training
1. You need to practice your nutrition just like you train for your race!
Maybe you are following a specific training plan to get ready for the Beti Bike Bash; maybe you are just getting out and riding as much as you can. Whatever your training strategy, adding in nutrition training can make a difference!
Practicing your nutrition ahead of a race can help you to go into the race confident and take the guesswork out of what to eat. Figure out what foods will work for YOU since everyone is a little different. Take those foods out on your training rides, especially ones that are similar intensity to the race. I like to work with athletes to create a ‘Race Plan,’ which is an hourly plan for each specific race that includes what foods to eat and when. We will practice and adjust this race plan leading up to the big event to make sure everything is dialed in. That way, on race day, you have one less thing to worry about. Just pack your food, have your plan, and focus on the race!
2. You can’t “catch up” on hydration.
Have you ever gotten to the afternoon and realized you have hardly drank any water that day? It happens to all of us (me included!), and it can make hydration a little more difficult.
Our bodies can absorb about 20-25 ounces of water per hour. This is about the amount in one large bike bottle. Because of this, it can be hard to play catch up with hydration. Try to carry a water bottle with you and drink throughout the day. New research shows that drinking a larger amount at one time- 8-12 ounces can help with absorption as well!
3. Eating during a ride can help you recover!
For endurance sports like mountain biking, a big part of recovery is about replacing your carbohydrate stores after a ride! Carbohydrates are one of our main fuel sources during a ride. These stores are pretty limited, so we need to replenish them after a ride to be able to feel good for our ride the next day, too!
Eating on a ride can fuel your ride and prevent depleting your carbohydrate stores as quickly. Aim for eating every 25-30 minutes to help your body have time to digest. Eat foods like energy bars, dried fruit, the Feed Zone rice cakes and other homemade goodies that are low in added sugars and high in real foods!
4. Added sugar is in EVERYTHING and cutting it out of your diet can help prevent bonking.
Did you know?
- There is added sugar in 74% of packaged foods in the grocery store
- The average american consumes 66 pounds of sugar every year
- Sugar is addictive: it relesases an opiate-like substance that activates the reward center in the brain.
- Sugar makes the digestive system acidic, leaching vitamin and minerals from the body.
Added sugar affects blood sugar by causing it to spike really quickly. After this spike, blood sugar tends to crash below the level it was before you ate the added sugar. This can lead to low energy, and possibly reaching for more sugary foods. Over time, these ups and downs can lead to your body becoming resistant to insulin, the hormone that helps your cells take in sugar to use it (this is what we want to happen). This insulin resistance can lead to type II diabetes. This is the long term problem with these big spikes in blood sugar. In the short term, having those big spikes can actually lead to bonking when your blood sugar dives back down. Having a steadier energy source that keeps your blood sugar stable can help keep you going even longer. Choose foods with natural sugars and complex carbohydrates such as fruit, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and oats.
5. Your mindset about what you are eating can change the way your body metabolizes it
Newer research shows that your mindset when you eat can actually affect how you metabolize food. Let’s take my guilty pleasure of chips as an example. Research suggests that if I have a healthy attitude toward those chips and enjoy them, my body will release hormones to rev up my metabolism to break them down more fully and process the calories better. If instead, I think negatively and anxiously about the chips- “They are going to make me fat,” “I shouldn’t be eating these”- my body will react by not releasing certain hormones and my metabolism will instead decrease. This decrease can result in weight gain, inefficient digestion, and even calcium loss. Another really interesting study shows a similar effect with labeling milkshakes two different ways and taking measures of hormones released. This is all still new very science, but it is really interesting and can have huge effects on our health! I think an interesting way to apply this to mountain biking would be to think about your food as fuel and see how it can affect how you feel on the bike!
I am excited to offer a special One Month Ladies Mountain Biking Nutrition Plan for Beti Bike Bash racers and VIDA clinic participants for only $20!! Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me with any nutrition questions or to find out about custom nutrition plans!