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Several studies have examined the nutritional intake of competitive cyclists. A study of competitive male cyclists found that their mean caloric intake was 4162 calories during training days and 4460 calories on race days. One study revealed that female road racers consumed an average of 2900-3000 calories when training and 2100-2200 on noncycling days. Some elite cyclists require even more calories! Of course, every athlete is different and plans must be individualized for optimal performance in cycling.

Nutrition is often the weak link. A good training diet will…

  • Increase energy, reduce fatigue
  • Reduce body fat
  • Reduce the risk of injury
  • Improve endurance, health and performance

Nutrition, hydration, supplementation, and recovery are all important factors related to optimizing health and performance. Here are a few tips to get you started:


We often forget that when we sweat, we are losing more than water. Hyponatremia or low sodium in the blood, can be a very serious and even life-threatening condition. Losing salt and water (along with other electrolytes) and only replacing with water can actually dilute the sodium concentration of the blood and cause hyponatremia. That said, there are also sports drinks that provide electrolytes without the sugar and they also have their place. It really depends on the exercise intensity and conditions and the specific needs of the athlete.

  • Don’t forget to hydrate with all your meals. Drink at least 12 oz of water or sports drink. If you’re prone to muscle cramps, try to include salty foods and/or add salt to your food.
  • During breaks make sure that you hydrate. A sports drink is the best choice. You can also consider sports gels or chews if tolerated.
  • Make hydration a daily priority

The addition of carbohydrate increases time to exhaustion-improving performance time and intensity. By replacing muscle glycogen stores with the right food and timing, you can increase your energy and endurance and recover much faster!

You should weigh before and after practice to determine how much fluid you’ve lost via sweat. Each pound of body weight lost in a practice requires 20 to 24 ounces of fluid along with electrolytes. Fluid and sodium (or salt) needs must be met in order to keep you feeling your best!

Losing more than 3% of your body weight during a game can affect both health and performance and can also lead to muscle cramping. I recommend that my athletes calculate their sweat rates in order to determine their fluid needs.

Measuring Your Sweat Rate

Measuring your sweat rate is one way to make sure you are properly hydrating during your runs. The formula below can help you find out what your sweat rate is and how much fluid you should be consuming.

1-Weigh yourself before your workout or event

2-Keep track of all fluids consumed

3-Weigh yourself after your workout or event

Do this on several occasions and in different temperature settings to determine your sweat rate in different environments.

Adequate Carbs

Let’s look at carbohydrate intake since this is what your muscles use for energy. The body is able to store carbohydrate from the food you eat in the form of muscle glycogen. It’s not only important to eat the right foods before cycling, but it’s what you do on a daily basis that will lead to your best performance.

Nutrition intake should include 60-75% carbohydrate.

Carbohydrate requirements should be individualized since each athlete is unique. The amount of carbohydrate is based on body weight and energy expenditure.

Foods that contain carbohydrate are your grains, cereals, starchy vegetables, fruits and fruit juices.

Tips to keep in mind:

  • Eat on a schedule. Don’t skip meals.
  • It’s important to plan out your day to make sure that you stay well-fueled. Find a schedule that works for you.
  • Include breakfast or a snack before early workouts. Keep in mind that breakfast is breaking a fast, so you don’t want to work out on an empty stomach.
  • Eat something containing carbs every 3-4 hours.
  • Hydration is Key!

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Recovery nutrition

A post exercise combination of carbs and protein (in a 4:1 up to a 5:1 ratio) will replace glycogen stores and increase protein synthesis which will promote muscle recovery and get you ready for your next competition. Consistent recovery will yield better performance.

It’s important to keep in mind that the right nutrition plan is the one that works best for you. Barbara will customize a program that provides all of the nutrients you need for optimal health and energy. With the right nutrition program, you can actually train your muscles to store more glycogen, burn more body fat and enhance lean body mass so that you have the energy you need to reach and exceed your personal best.

Don’t let nutrition be your weak link.

Let Barbara customize your fueling plan and take you to the next level!