Got your Ride Place - Check! Got your bike - Check! Got your Ride Day outfit - Check! Given your bike a service and final fettles? Check Check Check! So what about you? Have you made sure that you are in tip top form ahead of the Ride?
We’ve teamed up with Libby Limon a leading London nutritionist to give some tips to help you best prepare for Sunday 17th June - whichever route you’re riding!
We’re close to selling out for The Classic Ride so if you haven’t signed up yet - jump to it!
Libby Limon, nutritionist and yoga teacher, believes in creating optimal health through a diet and lifestyle that fits around your life. Finding balance in all aspects of life relieves discomfort, restores functionality and helps sustain and maintain wellbeing of the body, mind and soul. As health means different things to different people, Libby’s approach is to individually, gently and safely change and develop diet and lifestyle to achieve your goals.
“At Libby’s core is her clinical practice, helping people on a one to one basis optimise their nutrition by supporting chronic health issues, fitness or exercise requirements or just to be as healthy as they can be.”
The application of nutrition science in the promotion of health and peak performance. Nutritional Therapy can identify potential nutritional imbalances and how these contribute to symptoms. This approach allows the nutritional therapist to work with people on many levels by addressing nutritional imbalances and supporting the body towards maintaining health.
Over to Libby!
When the team at Eroica Britannia asked me to write some nutrition tips for riders taking part in the Classic Ride on Sunday - I have to say I was taken aback by what an endurance event it truly was. Typically the short route (30 miles) takes between 3-4 hours and the long route (100 miles) can be anything between 8 and 10 hours - sometimes a bit longer! That is a lot of time on a bike, (especially when your bike is a pre-1987 road bike) and endurance needs good nutrition to get the best performance. Often sports nutrition talks a lot about ‘macros’ the balance of carbs, proteins and fats needed for endurance training so I wanted to touch on two areas which are less talked about. Firstly, protecting against oxidative stress and secondly nutrition to best prepare for your Ride!
As we produce more energy to fuel our workout, there is a byproduct produced called ‘free radicals’. Free radicals are highly unstable and reactive, they are damaging to proteins, cell membranes and DNA. Free Radicals are neutralised by anti-oxidants from our diet and/or ones that we produce. When Free Radicals build up they cause what is called ‘Oxidative Stress’.
Oxidative stress is one of the reasons why exercise is good for you; your body is slightly weakened by it. It then shifts into recovery mode, producing more of the neutralizing anti-oxidants, therefore becoming more resistant to oxidative stress. However, if there is an on-going imbalance between the amount of anti-oxidants produced/consumed and the amount of free radicals produced this can cause chronic oxidative stress. This chronic oxidative stress is linked to injuries in the short term and cardiovascular disease, dementia and cancer in the long term. So, as you increase your exercise especially of the endurance kind it is important to increase your anti-oxidant status. Many foods in our diet have antioxidant but most predominately are in fruit and veg with all the colours of the rainbow, spices and herbs and lastly teas and coffees. Eating 7+ portions of fruit and veg per day is the optimal amount to protect the body, keep it healthy and injury free. Adding lots of flavour from spices such as cinnamon, turmeric and ginger, herbs from parsley, mint to coriander is another great way to improve antioxidant status. Organic teas especially green and white as well as fresh brewed coffee are another great way to boost levels, additionally due to the caffeine’s effect having before training or a race has been shown to enhance performance (although try this in practice before the big day to see if it sits well for you).
So I would recommend to start adding herby salads with roasted veg, fragrant spiced veggie curries and vibrant fruits to your weekly meal plans!
Pre and During Your Ride
Of course eating a good breakfast is important, but if you are riding for more than hour or 2, it is likely that you energy stores (glycogen) will start to move into deficit. There is a lot of research to looking out exactly how and when refueling whilst doing endurance exercise is best. I would recommend that you do this in not only for the race but also long training rides. This is one time that sugar is actually recommended as you need a quick shot of energy in its purest form. Always start to take in energy shortly after you start riding. Studies show that taking on energy at shorter intervals such as every 45mins in smaller doses is more effective that taking on the same amount after 2 hours of exercise.
You also need electrolytes, these are lost when you sweat and are required to keep adequately hydrated. For endurance sports water alone won’t cut it. Sports drinks are a great simple way to consume these, there are now more natural food base ones on the market such as Vega.
Lastly my top tip is concentrated beetroot juice, reportedly used by team GB. Beets contain a large amount of inorganic nitrates. These compounds are the precursor to a very important signalling molecule that our body needs to function, Nitric Oxide. NO is made naturally within our bodies but we can dramatically increase its availability by eating nitrate rich food. Among other roles, NO acts as a vasodilator in functioning skeletal muscle, increasing the size of blood vessels to allow more oxygen flow, thus has been shown to support CV fitness and sporting performance.