In our first guest blog here at Premier Endurance we welcome Evan Lynch to guide us through how to fuel a typical week during your winter base period, read a little more about Evan below.
Evan Lynch is an international racewalker, having represented Ireland at Euro and World level with over 20 National titles to his name. He is a qualified sports nutritionist & B.Sc in Food Science & Health. Evan has worked with UCC health society, Clonmel rugby club, Xtreme Fitness and has opportunities upcoming with Athletics Ireland. Evan runs his own consultancy business called “E Lynch Fitnut”. His ultimate goal? – to help people be the versions of themselves they can be using evidence-based approaches!
Fueling the Way
Sitting in the saddle, turning the gears, enjoying the scenery, racking up the miles. It’s easy to get obsessed in Strava, how many watts you’re pushing, new pieces of kit, massage tables and hitting grueling hills. One thing often overlooked and undervalued is nutrition, in particular fueling your training sessions, likely because it’s less of a tangible intervention than getting a massage on some sore quads, or a hard tempo training session, or doing the reps in the gym, it doesn’t feel like you are doing nothing, and it is very subtle, some would say boring.
Let’s look at what I might suggest for a domestic level rider, who is an adult male, training 5 days a week, is already at 10% body fat (so is NOT trying to lose weight) weighs 70kg and is 1.8m tall. Let’s look at fueling the following typical weeks training for this time of year, step by step, with the why and how addressed simply.
|Tuesday||75 min session with 4*10-minute intervals @ 85% FTP|
|Wednesday||2 hrs 60-70% FTP|
|Thursday||AM: Gym (strength + prehab)
PM: 60 mins with 8*10 sec all out sprints (full recovery between)
|Saturday||3.5 hrs 60-70% FTP|
|Sunday||3.5 hrs 60-70% FTP|
Before we dive into setting up your calorie needs and assessing what we should eat for training, let’s briefly do a wee bit of basic physiology. Your body prefers to burn glucose, if glucose is present in your system that is what you will use as fuel, secondary to this are fatty acids and fat stores, which we can burn more of at lower intensities and depending on our fed state. Lastly are our muscles, or protein, which we burn as a last resort. It is not warranted to take on amino acids or BCAA’s during training, unless you haven’t eaten in days or are eating very little on a high fat diet, your muscles will be fine. Also to note, burning fat in training will not make you lose weight or bodyfat, being in a calorie deficit will.
Step 1: Assess calorie needs
This is always the first port of call; I like to opt for the Mifflin St. Jeor equation, as it’s more accurate in leaner individuals. This gives an equation for our basal metabolic rate, or how much energy you burn lying around the house all day. This is an equation used based on your age and physical stature, it is as follows:
Men: 9.99 x (weight in kg) + 6.25 x (height in cm) – (4.92 x age) + 5
Women: 9.99 x (weight in kg) + 6.25 x (height in cm) – (4.92 x age) – 161
Next you must factor in your life, because odds are, you don’t just sit around and all day and train 5 times per week, not if you are an amateur rider, so you must factor in work, school and any other responsibilities. This is done as by multiplying your basal metabolic rate by one the relevant following number:
- 1.4 if you have a very sedentary job or lifestyle and drive to work (desk job or toll booth for example)
- 1.6 if you have a moderate amount of activity in your job, i.e. walking around a lot (laboratory analyst or waiter/waitress)
- 1.8 if you have a physical job i.e. (laborer, builder, PT)
Step 2: Factor in your work load
The above calorie value you get is what you would consume on a rest day from training, as we have not accounted for training yet, so let’s do that. The example week’s training gives us around 12 hours per week of activity, calories burned during exercise vary on fitness level & intensity, on average for cycling in around 60-70% threshold power you will burn in the region of 600 calories an hour, give or take 100, gym workouts are around 200 calories per hour, I cannot account for all individuals in this article! You only need to factor in the activity level on work days, so if you are off at the weekends, simply add together your BMR and exercise cost!
A sensible macro-nutrient split is to have 50% carbs, 28% fats and 22% protein. A gram of fat and a gram of protein have 4 calories each, whereas fat has 9 calories a gram. This is very general and can change given certain circumstances, but this would suit a lot of people. Let’s take a look at what our rider’s week looks like in terms of numbers, assuming he is moderately active and 20 years old:
|Monday (rest)||2700 calories: 337g Carbs, 148g Protein, 84g Fats.|
|Tuesday||3400 calories: 425g Carbs, 187g Protein, 106g Fats.|
|Wednesday||3900 calories: 487g Carbs, 215g Protein, 121g Fats.|
|Thursday (double)||3500 calories: 437g Carbs, 192g Protein, 109g Fats.|
|Friday (rest)||2700 calories: 337g Carbs, 148g Protein, 84g Fats.|
|Saturday (3.5hr)||3800 calories: 475g Carbs, 209g Protein, 118g Fat.|
|Sunday (3.5hrs)||3800 calories: 475g Carbs, 209g Protein, 118g Fat.|
Step 3: Let’s plan for the sessions
Now that we have an overall idea of the numbers we need, let’s look at actually eating in and around our training sessions. We want to partition a good chunk of our carbohydrates around our training, to allow us to perform at a higher level, as well as preserve muscle better, get an overall higher anabolic and recovery response from our training. Bashing our glycogen levels down frequently is a factor in over training, and can lead to immune function impairment, meaning you get sick, suffer from over training syndrome or pick up niggles easier. All bad things.
Just to note, if you are working off of your fat stores, you are limited to working at around 10-15% less capacity than if you were using carbohydrates, so it’s highly counterproductive to go low carb on a gym day or in any session where you will be doing explosive/ high intensity work of any kind.
Sessions under 1 hour do not require fuel during training, sessions between 60 & 90 minutes warrant perhaps a carb rich drink, anything over this warrants carbohydrates and electrolytes.
We are limited in terms of fueling capability by what we can absorb, somewhere between 30 and 60g of carbs per hour is the sweet spot, and you want to be putting away about 100-150ml of fluids every 15 minutes or so (a mouthful). Having a meal with around 60-90g carbs an hour or two before training to top up your glycogen is a good idea, as is having a balanced meal as soon as possible after training, from a recovery and a logistical point of view. For anything lasting over 90 minutes, sodium concentration is important to manage also, let’s look at a simple meal/fuel plan for the long ride days at the weekend:
|3.5 hour ride @ 60-70% FTP approx. 2100 calories|
|Fluid intake: ~600ml per hour, 2100ml in total at least
Carb intake: 40-70g per hour, 140-245g in total.
Protein/Fats: NOT necessary.
|Pre training meal options (~80-90g carbs, 60-90 mins pre training):
· Wholemeal bagel with 10g butter and jam & Banana
· Large banana & 50g dates + 2 rice cakes w. peanut butter
· 60g porridge oats, honey, berries, 250 ml full fat milk
· 2 medium baked potatoes with some table salt & butter
**Sip a sports drink or sugary coffee in 60 mins pre training
|During training: (40-70g carbs/hr, >50mg sodium/hr, >600ml fluids/hr):
· 2 x 750ml Lucozade sports + 750ml H20 (Lucozade 1, water, Lucozade 2) and handful dried fruit @ 90 minutes with water bottle phase
· 2 x 750ml water bottles with dioralyte + 500ml flat coke (mouthful every 30 mins). Banana/dried apricots @ 60mins, 120mins & 160mins.
· Hammer nutrition perpetuem into 2 x 750 ml bottles; sip alternatively with a 1000ml water bottle. Some dried fruit/ figs/ cereal bar to snack on.
|After training (Balanced meal ASAP):
· Consume 1500ml fluids for every kg of bodyweight lost; it is not possible to match the sweat loss with drinking without being sick.
· 500ml of milk and a double scoop of whey or 750ml chocolate milk and a handful of nuts is a good thing to reach for first.
· Keep it simple; Pasta with some salmon/chicken and pesto is great. Alternatively a turkey burger with cheese & avocado and sweet potato fries is a tasty way to kick off recovery.
· Vegetable/chicken soup with brown bread & butter is a convenient option.
I will say, that in my biased opinion as a nutritionist and athlete (though not a cyclist), that nutrition can add huge margins to your sessions and your progress, boost your performance, keep you healthy and can be tasty too. It simply takes awareness and willingness to execute it properly. To find out your best fit, why not book a session with me to see where you could be better with your fueling strategy, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep trucking along,