Eating enough energy and getting the right balance of all the nutrients is vital to fuelling your training programme and allowing your body to reap the benefits following training, helping you get fitter, stronger, faster, repairing your muscles and maintaining a healthy immune system.
Carbohydrate is the preferred energy source for our muscles and brain but the body can only store a limited supply. Training regularly and for long periods will quickly use up these stores. Topping up your carbohydrate supplies frequently is essential and will prevent you from getting tired too quickly and will restock supplies ready for your next training session.
Where to start:
Before reading on there are a few basics adjustments you can do to your diet to begin to ensure you are getting enough energy and nutrients.
1) Make sure each meal is based on carbohydrate, forming the biggest portion on your plate e.g. breads, breakfast cereal, oats, potatoes, rice, pasta, noodles, cous cous and gnocchi.
2) Include a moderate size portion of protein with main meals e.g. lean meat, fish, lentils and pulses.
3) Include a serving of fruit and vegetables as a snack and with meals.
It is important to consider the timing of your meals and snacks and the type of carbohydrate consumed to allow the food to be digested and for the energy to become available for training.
2-4 hours before training - a carbohydrate based meal e.g. porridge made with milk, cereal plus toast, pasta and low fat sauce with lean meat, chilli with rice, baked potato with beans and chicken stir fry with noodles (see table for more examples).
1-2 hours before training - a carbohydrate based snack e.g. pancakes with jam, malt loaf plus glass of orange juice, fig rolls plus a banana, sandwich (see table for more examples).
less than 1 hour before training - something easily digested e.g. sports drink, cereal bar, small scone/pancake with jam (See table for more suggestions).
Now is the time to start to practise eating and drinking and getting used to having food and fluid in your stomach whilst biking and hiking. This will give you an opportunity to use your camel back/water bottle and to pack your rucksack with portable, easy-to-digest energy food to eat along the way.
Training for 1hour+:
Have an easily digested carbohydrate snack every hour (this includes drinking an isotonic sport drink (see advice on hydration).
During your cycle eat at least 30g of carbohydrate per hour or 1g/kg of bodyweight for faster/heavier competitor’s e.g. fast competitor weighing 70kg will require 70g of carbohydrate per hour (see table for more suggestions).
When hiking you will find it easier to eat food therefore a small sandwich/pitta bread/wrap/roll with a meat/cheese/tuna etc filling is suitable. On the event day itself you will have main meals at your station stops so you will likely to only need small snacks in between these stops.
Spread your snack throughout the hour, eating little and often; this will ensure your energy supply is kept topped up and prevent your blood sugars from becoming too low causing hypoglycaemia (see medical information for further advice on hypoglycaemia). This will also help to prevent any stomach upset.
Choose some salty snacks, check the label on the packaging it will refer to salt as sodium e.g. pretzels, lightly salted popcorn. It is not necessary for every snack during your training and on the event itself to contain salt but it is important to replenish your salt levels if you are drinking lots of water.
Recovery is one of the most important aspects of training to allow your body to repair, adapt and replace energy and fluid ready for the next training session.
In the few hours following training your muscles are more efficient at replacing carbohydrate stores therefore eat a carbohydrate based snack or have your next meal, if due, as soon as possible. Including a source of protein with this snack or meal will further help with your recovery e.g. bowl of cereal with semi skimmed milk, sandwich with lean meat, glass of milk with piece of fruit, fish with boiled potatoes and vegetables.
Each competitor will vary on the amounts of carbohydrate required to be eaten depending on your own training programme, so it is up to you to get used to the quantities required to eat in order for you to train to your best. Simply, the more training you do the more energy you use, the more you need to eat.
For those competitors who have diabetes or any other medical conditions that they are concerned about that may be effected by their training and the event itself, please email Athletes Angels with your queries and we will endeavour to answer them.
Carbohydrate is the major source of energy for your muscles and brain.
Base each meal and snack on carbohydrates (see table for suggestions).
Now is the time to start getting used to eating and drinking during training whilst biking and walking to get your body used to it and so help to avoid any stomach upset during the event.
You may find you will be able to take on board more food and fluids whilst walking and you will be on foot for a longer duration than biking. Start to think about and plan for the amount of food and fluids you will need to pack for each stage of the event, foods that are easy to carry and consume.
Make sure the food and drinks you are consuming also contain a source of salt (sodium), this can be done by checking the label on the packaging.
Get used to the food and drinks that you will be provided by your support team and at each check point; choose to eat these during you training sessions.
With an increase in sugary foods and drinks remember to brush your teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes with fluoride toothpaste.
Finally, food is there to be enjoyed. When training for long periods and on the event itself choose food and drink items that you like to eat, this will help to boost your mood and motivation as well as your energy levels.