Race day nutrition, and certainly pre-race nutrition, can often come as an afterthought with a lot of attention going to having the right gear and doing your training but not so much the eating.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll just try and pack in a lot of food volume in the couple days before a race “because you need the fuel” and grab a couple of cheap energy bars from the petrol station to tide you over during the race and rely on water tables for any bonus snacks, which are thankfully pretty legit at sani2c!
Now this may be a recipe, but it isn’t a recipe for success. Getting the right foods in the right amount into your body is an easy way to boost your performance and enjoyment for any physical activity. It is even more important to get this right for stage races such as the KAP sani2c because of the extended demand on your body and its energy reserves.
We have called on the help of Bevan Reddy from NutriHealth to guide us through the do’s and don’ts of stage race nutrition in our series of articles building up to the 2023 KAP sani2c. Bevan has been working with sani2c for several years now as the official nutrition partner, helping riders out with advice from quick tips to personalised eating plans. This is what he has to say on stage race nutrition.
WA: Thanks for taking some time to chat with us Bevan, let’s kick it off with what your journey has been with sani2c. Can you share a little bit about your relationship with the ride?
Bevan: Having been a competitive road cyclist and triathlete, mountain biking has always been something fun for me to take the mind off of the road training and sani2c was an event that we would do for some fun. It was something that we did as a sort of cycling holiday! We loved the people, the vibe, the food, and the chats after the ride!
I’ve had a great relationship with the Haw family for many years and it was through this that NutriHealth became the official nutrition partner of the event, to help people at any level enjoy the benefits of a healthy diet.
WA: Hitting the last 2 months before the event, as one’s training is getting to the most crucial stages and your body is being primed for the ride, this must be an important time for ensuring you’re getting the right stuff into your body. What are some of the common shortcomings you see from people in this final block before an event?
Bevan: Some common shortcomings that people may face in the final weeks before a cycling event include inadequate nutrition, lack of rest and recovery, and overtraining. To ensure peak performance, it’s crucial to fuel your body with the right nutrients, get enough sleep, and allow for proper recovery time.
Overtraining can also be detrimental, as it can lead to injuries or burnout. It’s important to listen to your body and adjust your training accordingly.
WA: It is a no-brainer that a healthy diet is going to help one perform better on the bike, run, or just in day-to-day life. What sort of improvements have you seen in people who have committed to a quality eating plan?
Bevan: A balanced diet that is rich in nutrients can help fuel the body, improve muscle recovery, reduce inflammation, and boost energy levels as well as improve mental clarity which in turn will ensure an increase in overall performance gain, be it work or play.
WA: All the fad diets seem to have one thing in common and that is cutting out processed and synthetic products. What is your take on this? What foods etc are best to be avoided to maintain a healthy diet?
Bevan: It’s important to note that no signal type of diet applies to everyone due to various health factors and conditions that are unique to each individual, However in general to maintain a healthy diet, it’s generally recommended to focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods.
This includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, and avocado. It’s also important to limit or avoid highly processed foods, sugary drinks, and foods high in saturated and trans fats.
Additionally, it’s important to stay hydrated and limit alcohol consumption. A balanced diet that is rich in whole foods can help promote overall health and wellness.
Fueling for the race
WA: “Carboloading” isn’t as intense as it is commonly made out to be, you’ve suggested about 7 grams per kilo of your body weight on the sani2c nutrition guide page. That would be roughly 560 grams for me, over what time period in the build up to a race would one want to consume that volume?
Bevan: Carbo loading in a general sense usually is done over 24hrs to 48hrs, however an alternative to the traditional approach is to eat a well-balanced diet the week before and eat your normal food volumes, you will still achieve a carbo loading effect as your volume of training would have reduce as you taper for the event, creating a natural excess which will serve the same effect as the Carbo Loading.
WA: Which food sources are the best for loading up your carb stores and at what point would you say that someone is overloading their carb stores?
Some of the best food sources for loading up carb stores include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. These foods are rich in complex carbohydrates, which are broken down slowly by the body and provide a sustained source of energy.
Simple carbohydrates, such as those found in sugary drinks and candy, can provide a quick burst of energy but are quickly used up by the body. When it comes to carb loading, it’s important to strike a balance between consuming enough carbohydrates to fuel your activity and not overloading your carb stores.
Overloading on carbohydrates can lead to digestive discomfort and may not provide any additional benefit to athletic performance. The amount of carbohydrates needed for carb loading can vary depending on factors such as body weight, activity level, and the duration and intensity of the activity.
WA: What role do proteins serve in the energy system for endurance events? Is there a particular intake of protein that one should aim for and what are the best sources to get it from?
Proteins play an important role in the energy system for endurance events, particularly during prolonged exercise. While carbohydrates are the primary source of fuel for the body during exercise. Proteins are essential for the repair and recovery of muscle tissue after the race.
Minimal protein is required during the race as too much can cause stomach discomfort. Protein will come from carbohydrate sources as well, other options come oat bars, nougat and other dairy based or peanut/nut-based bars as well as boiled eggs, small amounts of nuts.
WA: Recovering well is a key component of sustaining and even increasing one’s performance, either in training, or during a stage race event such as the KAP sani2c. You’ve recommended on the sani2c nutrition page 20-30 g of protein and 40 g of carbohydrates post ride as soon as you can, but is it also wise to eat some higher protein snacks towards the end of the ride before finishing or doing something similar?
Eating some higher protein snacks towards the end of a ride can be beneficial for recovery and muscle repair, especially if the stage is long and intense. Protein-rich snacks can help replenish amino acids that may have been depleted during exercise and can provide the building blocks needed for muscle repair and recovery.
Protein bars paired with a carb based drink or energy gel would be the best option for this as it would also start replenishing muscle glycogen.
WA: Thanks again for sharing your expertise with us Bevan! Any words of encouragement to the sani2c riders of 2023?
Bevan: Only a pleasure! Keep it simple. Hit your training goals, eat clean and simple / whole foods, and remember that you’re doing this for fun! That is the most important part.
For some more information on the sani2c 3-day stage races and nonstop event, head over here.
To get more insights from Bevan on nutrition for sani2c, head over here.
For more cycling training and nutrition tips, this is the place to go!