By Monique Ryan
Monique Ryan is the nutrition columnist forVeloNews andInsideTriathlon magazines and is founder of Personal Nutrition Designs, a consulting company based in the Chicago area. Ryan will try to answer selected questions each week in her regular on-line question-and-answer column.Readers are welcome to send questions to Ryan atWebLetters@7dogs.com.
Is uni-sex nutrition advice really a help?
It seems that most nutrition plans I’ve seen are geared to the male athlete or are supposedly “generic” to both sexes. The problem is that they are geared to a heavier carbohydrate intake than is comfortable for me as woman athlete. What is the proper balance of carbohydrates to protein for a woman cyclist focused on endurance and cross-country mountain biking events, especially for woman in her mid-thirties? Thanks. —KGDear KG;
Fortunately there has been more recent research measuring the differences between men and women in regards to fuel utilization and nutritional requirements. The nutritional implications of gender differences may be especially important for ultra-endurance training and racing. It appears that women burn a higher amount of fat and a lower amount of carbohydrate at a given intensity. However, studies on carbohydrate loading and recovery nutrition have found no appreciable differences between men and women at this point. What I would recommend is that you tailor your daily carbohydrate intake to that day’s training. What is too “generic” is eating the same amount of carbohydrate for both long endurance rides, and shorter high-intensity rides. What you can do is consider the following guidelines:Training 3-6 hours at moderate to high intensity requires 4.5 to 5.5 gm carbohydrate per pound of weight.Training over 90 minutes to 2 hours at moderate to high intensity requires 3.0 to 4.5 gm carbohydrate per pound of weight.Training at moderate duration for less than one hour, or at low intensity for several hours requires 2.25 to 3 gm carbohydrate per pound of weight.Heavy training days obviously require more fuel for recovery. Try not to follow these days with very low carbohydrate days, but allow yourself adequate recovery time. You can go easy on the lighter training days, and not feel that you are overdoing your carbohydrate intake.Some days your carbohydrate intake may run at 60 percent of your calories, on lighter days it may run 50 percent. Keep in mind that percentages are all relative. What really matters is that the total grams of carbohydrate you consume match your training. Glycogen depletion may not happen overnight, but could progress slowly over a week’s time, resulting in a sub-optimal workout. Protein requirements are also best considered as the amount of grams required per pound of weight. Most endurance athletes need from 0.6 to 0.8 gm per pound.If you went on a high intensity ride for 90 minutes and weigh 135 lb. you would require about 400 gm of carbohydrate and 80 grams of protein for the day. —MR
Meeting the demands of cyclo-cross
I have a question on nutrition after a 30 to 45 minute cyclo-cross race. I am a 45-year-old male, who weighs 190 lb. After racing for 30 to 45 minutes or at above my lactate threshold, what is the best way to refuel after a race. I have been using R4 and need to know if there are any other ways to recover nutritionally. Your columns in VeloNews are very informative, keep up the good work. —JHDear JH;
Because of the high intensity required, a cyclo-cross race utilizes a greater percentage of muscle glycogen than muscle triglycerides for fuel. What likely occurs is that you burn a significant amount of stored glycogen in your fast-twitch muscle fibers. You should replace this with over half a gram of carbohydrate for every pound that you weigh. For example, 170 lb. cyclist could consume 85 gm or slightly more for recovery.Generally after a race you also require fluids, so recovery drinks are often appealing. You might find commercial products convenient after a race. The research is really split down the middle regarding the addition of protein to your carbohydrate drink. Most studies to not show any additional benefit from adding protein, while a few studies do show a benefit. So it probably comes down to a matter of taste and cost. You can also consume some of your recovery carbohydrates in the form of solid food. Items with a high glycemic index such as high carbohydrate energy bars, bagels, and bread items should work well.Once you consume your recovery item(s), make sure that you continue the process. While the recovery process is accelerated several hours after exercise, you must replenish over the next 24 hours.–MR
Monique Ryan, MS, RDis author of “CompleteGuide to Sports Nutrition,” and “SportsNutrition for Endurance Athletes” from VeloPress. She is a regularcolumnist forVeloNews andInside Triathlon magazines andis founder of Personal Nutrition Designs, a nutrition consulting companybased in the Chicago area. Ryan regularly counsels athletes on performance and health related nutrition concerns. She has consulted with the Saturn Cycling Team since 1994, and has also worked with Volvo-Cannondale, Trek-Volkswagen, and USA Cycling. Ryan offers answers to reader’s questions in this weeklycolumn. Readers can send questions to Ryan toWebLetters@7dogs.com.Be sure to include “Ryan” in the subject line.