Mistake #2: Nutrition
Boy, how do I even cover the whole topic in one post? To begin, here is a condensed list of just a few nutritional methods I have tried that didn’t work for me (maybe they work for some people):
I’ll cut myself off there!
Let’s start with an easy one: not eating during rides / runs.
What if I told you I ate an entire jar of cookie butter and a carton of carrot cake sandwich cookies in 15 minutes...multiple times?
In the past I wouldn’t eat anything during six hour rides. I wanted to lose weight to improve the whole “power to weight” ratio thing. I would usually start crying around hour four for some stupid reason, like the road was bumpy. But I kept pushing forward to hour six.
When I finally made it home and crawled through the door, I felt entitled to eat a jar of cookie butter, did so, and then proceeded to feel so guilty that I ate more. But I must have burned like 1500 calories! I deserved that jar of sugar and fat. Or so I thought.
Sadly for me, that is not how the body likes to take in its calories. Whether you are trying to lose weight or not, it is so important to actually eat during a ride. Not only will eating while riding help you to lose weight because you won’t want to eat the wood of your kitchen cabinet when you get home, but you will also have a BETTER RIDE (and probably not randomly start crying). You will get more out of your intervals because your body will have the fuel it needs to keep pushing. This will make you stronger and faster.
Here is my rule of thumb now:
<1.5 hour ride: Just water or a light sports drink
>1.5 hour ride, especially if it is hard: ~25-40 grams carbs per hour or 100-300 calories per hour depending on the intensity, plus a sports drink with electrolytes
*Please note this will vary for different body weights, genders, type of exercise*
Before workouts I will have some carbs (2 slices of bread) and some high-glycemic fruits (jam or honey on the toast). After workouts I go straight for the Aminorip Chocolate Fudge to get in a quick serving of proteins and amino acids, giving my body fuel to start recovering asap. After taking a shower I will eat high-glycemic carbs so my body can break them down quickly, some fruits, and maybe a Greek yogurt. I try to avoid fats before and directly after workouts as it slows the digestion of the foods your body needs for energy or recovery.
Nutrition the rest of the time
Finding a “diet” that worked for me outside of training took years to figure out. After trying all kinds of fads searching for the magic bullet, and personally experiencing large weight fluctuations, I hired a nutritionist who changed my relationship with food and with my weight. It has made a huge difference in my body composition and performance. The funny part is, it is so simple!
I hate when someone tells me I can’t do something. I equally hate being restricted from eating certain foods. I love gluten, meat, carbs, chocolate cake, etc. I eat everything in moderation and at the right times of the day based on my body’s energy requirements and training.
I have five to six meals per day consisting of carbs, protein, fats, vegetables, and fruits. The proportions of each vary with each meal but at no time during the day would I say I am “hungry.” I probably eat more calorically than I did in the past, but rather than massive spikes of food intake and energy a few times during the day, I keep my blood sugar levels fairly constant. It helps me avoid cravings, recover after and between workouts, and prevents my body from going into starvation mode.
However, it is not as simple as just taking what you eat in a day and dividing it by six. The proportions of the food groups vary from meal to meal which is an important aspect to consider (ex. I eat carbs at dinner but only 0.5-1 cup of rice versus 1.5-2 cups of rice at lunch)!
I could go on for days about nutrition and mistakes I have made in this aspect of my training. Again, I am not a certified nutritionist in any way and these are simply my personal struggles and successes with my own body. It is entirely possible that what worked for me won’t work for everyone. I encourage you to read, contact a sports nutritionist, and record what works for you and your training in a log. Feel free to post here or on Facebook with any questions or comments!
PS - I can still put down an entire chocolate cake. ON MY OWN!
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Professional cyclist turned professional triathlete living in Boulder, CO.