Exercise & Healthy Eating
To improve performance most people think about tricking up their bike. But you can make a much, much bigger improvement
to your performance if you look after
your body properly. Here are some tips from the experts.
Most important! Having a basic level of fitness and strength allows your body to deliver the goods when its needed, on race
day. Even though healthy eating and drinking in the days leading up to an event can help, if you are unfit you are behind the
eight ball from the word go.
Riding is good exercise, but so is cycling, jogging and gym work. X-Box is not!
You must wear a hydration back pack, and remember to fill it up every loop!
The body is made up of over 70% water. Every day we lose over 2 litres of water, through sweat, urination and evaporation through the lungs.
This water must be replaced.
When exercising the body loses even more fluid through sweat, therefore making it more important to replace this lost fluid.
Waiting until you are thirsty is too late. By then the body has already lost around 2% of body weight (fluid).
The way your body produces energy and your muscles perform will start to deteriate after only 1% loss of fluid. Symptoms of fluid loss
Your Heart rate increases.
Increased perception of effort.
Decrease in muscular endurance.
Cramps, Nausea and headaches.
How do I replace the fluid lost?
Before the race, drink extra amounts of water/sports drink.
On the day. Drink! preferably sip small amounts of water/sports drink continually during the race. The accepted amount for endurance
type sports is around 1 litre per hour. This can vary, depending mostly on the amount of sweat loss.
After the race, Drink! Extra amounts of water/sports drink.
What is the best fluid to drink?
Many people may disagree, however the Australian Institute of Sport have conducted many tests and decided that sports drinks are the best way to replace fluid lost through
The problem with consuming water whilst exercising is that your body cannot absorb the same amount of water as it is losing. Also trying to replenish fluid loss with water alone
can cause stomach bloating and to a small degree also increases the effect of dehydration through dilution of essential minerals that your muscles need to perform.
Trail riders quite often like the idea of water as they can poor it over their head and top up radiators. But in a race situation that’s not important.
The other major advantage of sports drinks is that they contain essential minerals that actually help the body hold onto and absorb the fluid, thereby re-hydrating you quicker than
plain water. They also contain carbohydrates and electrolytes that provide your body and muscles with much needed energy to keep you performing.
Its pretty obvious that the more nutritious/healthy the food you eat, the more energy you are going to have.
Eating lots of takeaway fried foods the day before a race is not giving your body the best chance to perform.
The main source of energy is derived from carbohydrates.
When you eat any food that contains carbohydrates, your body breaks it down into glucose. This glucose is
then carried to the muscles in the blood stream and stored until it is needed.
It is well proven that the body can store large amounts of carbohydrate/glucose for a number of days. Which has
led to the theory of carbohydrate loading.
Before a race, eat foods that are high in carb’s. For 3-4 days leading up to a race. Foods such as pasta, rice,
otatoes, breads cereals etc and stay away
from the fatty fried foods that take too long to digest and lots of energy to digest.
The morning of the race, lots of alternatives. Low fat muffins, low fibre cereal’s, banana, toast, crumpets,
pancakes, yoghurt or even spaghetti. (Not the fried Bacon and Egg burger).
During the race. Keep up the sports drink. It contains carbohydrates.
Small amounts of food in the form of cereal bars, bananas, fruit, muffins.
You can supplement this with sports gels and bars. These gels and bars contain concentrated Carbohydrates as
well as other essential minerals such as potassium and sodium. They are a great way of giving your body an
There are a huge number of sports gels and bars on the market. Some taste absolutely disgusting and others not too bad.
Shop around and try a few before You rely on them on race day.
Lollies! There are lots of theories. It is a fact that foods high in sugar such as snakes, mars bars, Honey etc can give you a
energy boost. The important thing is to
only consume them just prior to exercising. Otherwise your body sugar levels will be thrown out and that can have a
detrimental effect to your energy levels and how well your muscles are able to produce the goods.
After the race. Get some carbs into you quick! Try and have a meal high in carbs within an hour or so of the finish of the race. Keep up the fluid intake and follow up with some healthy meals that include some protein to help the muscles tissues repair.
It has been proven by the Australian Institute of Sport that the principal cause of cramps, is excessive
loss of fluid and sodium (salt).
For many years it was believed that many other minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium
was the cause. Research has proven that the loss of these minerals through sweat is small compared
to the loss of sodium.
Sodium is an important electrolyte to the body as it is involved with the neural transmissions that lead
to the movement of the muscles. Therefore a deficiency in this electrolyte can lead to a disturbance in
muscle function which can lead to a cramp.
To avoid cramps:
Train your muscles
Drink plenty of fluids
Replenish sodium levels with a sports drink
Eat well and be conscious of eating enough foods that contain sodium
Stretch well before you start exercising
Once you’ve got a cramp:
Massage the effected area to try and get the blood flowing through the effected area.
Increase your fluid intake preferably through a sports drink that contains carbohydrates and electrolytes.