Nutrition & Recovery

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If you are training perfectly but your refuelling and day-to-day recovery is incorrect or insufficient, you’ll end up putting in a lot of hard work and not coming out your best. Here are some pointers to make sure you’re on the right track:

NUTRITION

  • As an athlete, you need to follow a well-balanced diet that consists of approximately 60-70% carbohydrates (CHO), 10–15% protein and 15–25% fat.
  • If you are slightly overweight, never starve yourself and never train or race without taking in sufficient energy. Rather visit an accredited health professional that can teach you the correct way of when and how to reduce total energy intake to still be as efficient as possible while training and racing.

Optimum nutrition:

  • Always start exercise CHO loaded and keep replacing CHO during exercise
  • Before exercise, CHO needs to be of a mainly low Glycaemic Index (GI), as to ensure a longer lasting release.
  • During exercise, CHO can be of a mixed or slightly higher GI as to ensure a quicker absorption of CHO.
  • Also start prolonged exercise salt loaded.
  • Aim to eat a variety of whole, unprocessed foods. The more natural, the better on the stomach lining.
  • Rely on food, rather than “pills”, shakes or bars
  • Optimum nutrition also doesn’t stop at the end of exercise and is most crucial during stage racing events or intense training blocks.
  • After exercise, CHO needs to be replaced within 30 minutes immediately after exercise, as this is the window where absorption/replacement is at its greatest. This can be as part of a mixed meal, where some protein and fat is also present.

Some training food ideas:

Examples consist of ~ 20g CHO and ~ 250 – 350 kilojoules

Pre-Exercise During Exercise After Exercise
(Mainly low GI) (Mainly mix GI) (Mainly high GI)
Heavy grain bread (1 slice) Banana (1) Energade/Game (250ml)
Fruit yoghurt (180ml) Potatoes (2 small) Coca cola
Apple (1) Pretzels (20 g) Sandwiches
Muesli (raw oats) (⅓ cup) White bread (1 slice) Scones/muffins (1 medium)
Pronutro (¼ cup) Raisins (40 g) Milk & Nesquick (250ml)
All Bran (½ cup) Banana bread (1 slice) Potatoes (2 small)
Scones/muffins (1 medium) Watermelon (1 slice)
Jellybabies (40 g)
Diluted apple juice (250ml)
Energade/Game (250ml)
Energy bar (1)
Cup of soup (1)

 

HYDRATION

  • Always start exercise well-hydrated.
  • Minimise any substances or medication in the few days before an important event that can have a duiretic effect, i.e. alcohol, some medications (check with your pharmacist or GP), etc.
  • Drink according to thirst during training or racing, ingesting slightly more on hot days or if you know you sweat a lot.
  • When exercising for more than two hours, focus on drinking sports drinks and only use plain water if accompanied by salty or CHO-rich food.
  • On very hot days it is also advisable to take in extra electrolytes, either by having more salty food (Marmite sandwiches, biltong, etc.) or adding Rehydrate to your sports drink.
  • Continuously replace lost fluids and salts after exercise for optimum recovery.
  • When exercising for 1 – 1½ hrs and you’re only doing a recovery or base pace ride, then it’s only necessary to drink water.
  • Should you be doing a high intensity interval session that will last up to 1 ½ – 2 hrs, then it is highly recommended to be drinking a sports drink of your choice (if you sweat then you need to replenish this.)

Some training hydration ideas:

  • Plain water (if exercising under 2 hours or otherwise accompanied with CHO-rich foods.)
  • Any good sports drink (Energade, Game, 32 GI, etc.)
  • Diluted fruit juice (apple, berry, etc), with a pinch of salt added to it.

RECOVERY

Day-to-day non-nutrititive recovery becomes crucial during stage racing or intense training blocks. Managing and taking care of your body has a direct impact on your trainability and performance.

Recovery can aid in:

  • Alleviating muscle soreness
  • Managing known injuries
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Removing waste products
  • Improving circulation
  • Supplying nutrients to promote muscle repair

Methods of recovery:

  • Going for regular massages
  • Daily stretching
  • Daily core training
  • Icing or ice baths – especially for injuries
  • Elevating legs after strenuous exercise
  • Sleeping properly before and during important events. If you struggle with sleeplessness, ask your doctor or pharmacist to recommend some a natural sleeping aid and make sure to try it out weeks in advance of the actual event.