Making sure you have enough energy to finish your ride well is half of the work done. Ok, maybe one-third, but still important! But how do you make sure you start your training or race well fueled?
Carbohydrates are an important source of fuel during your ride. A significant part of the carbohydrates you use as a fuel is stored in the body in the form of glycogen. Another part is coming from the carbohydrates available in your blood (in the form of glucose). Especially during prolonged or high intensity exercise, glycogen storage will get depleted. Fueling up before your ride in order to optimize glycogen stores and to increase carbohydrate availability in the blood could therefore be beneficial.
The biggest part of glycogen in the body is stored in our muscles. In addition, also the liver stores glycogen. There are other tissues in the body that store glycogen as well, but their contribution is relatively small compared to muscle and liver. In general, muscles store about 300 to 600 grams of glycogen. The liver can store about 80 to 110 grams of glycogen. By consuming sufficient carbohydrates, you can elevate your glycogen levels. Especially after an overnight fast this could be important, since liver glycogen could be significantly lower or even be largely depleted, meaning 20 grams or less.
What to eat before your ride?
- Make sure your last large meal before exercise contains sufficient amounts of carbohydrates (140-330g), in order to increase glucose availability in the blood, and to raise liver glycogen (especially after an overnight fast) and muscle glycogen.
- Aim for a meal that is easy to digest. Consider reducing fiber intake when you are sensitive for gut problems. Furthermore, try to lower the fat intake, since fat could slow down digestion and absorption of carbohydrates.
- Aim for the last large carbohydrate-rich meal about 3-4 hours prior to your ride and consider a small carbohydrate rich snack just before you take off or even during warming up.
- Don’t forget proper hydration as well. Aim for about 6 to 8ml per kg body weight before you go. You can read more about this in our other blog about hydration strategies.
Do you want to create your own suitable pre-exercise meal? The EatMyRide app provides you a personal pre-exercise nutrition advise based on your planned training/race, whereafter you can create your own nutrition plan.