By Monique Ryan
Monique Ryan is the nutrition columnist for VeloNews and InsideTriathlon magazines and is founder of Personal Nutrition Designs, a consulting company based in the Chicago area. Ryan will try to answer selectedquestions each week in her regular on-line question-and-answer column.Readers are welcome to send questions to Ryan at WebLetters@7dogs.com.
Feeding during a 24-hour race
I have a 24-hour mountain bike race coming up soon. Do you have a simpleplan of hydration and nutrition I could follow? Recommendations of typesof foods would be greatly appreciated. — TM
I will assume that you will be doing this 24-hour mountain bikerace solo, and not have the longer rest intervals that you would enjoywith a team effort. While riding your bike rely mainly on a sports drink.Aim for up to 40 ounces per hour, which should provide about 70 grams ofcarbohydrate. You can also utilize gels and water when you ride. Duringrest intervals, consume something a bit more solid in order to promotesome recovery and glycogen synthesis. Heavier recovery beverages that providea more concentrated source of carbohydrate and some protein can be a goodchoice, as can energy bars. You can also try some candy items such as gummybears. Your digestion may be a bit sensitive when you first get back onthe bike. Experiment in training to see what you can consume immediatelybefore riding. — MR
How to eat right durring an Ironman
What is the best way to gauge my caloric needs during an Ironman distancerace? I understand that the body processes only so many calories (say 250per hour) during an event and that taking in more calories than that amountis useless and can even be detrimental to one’s performance. — MMDear MM;
Gauging your caloric intake tolerance during an Ironman can be tricky.Many many seasoned competitors have learned this skill only through trial-and-error.Every triathlete has his or her own individual tolerances and rate at whichthey empty fluids from their stomach while training and competing. Onetrick is to never let your stomach get too empty or your body too dehydrated,as this slows down emptying. Generally, you can empty 26 to 40 ounces offluid from your stomach every hour. Sports drinks are just the right concentration(not too high), and will empty from your stomach as quickly as water.Twenty six to 40 ounces of a sports drink provides approximately 45to 70 grams of carbohydrate and 162 to 250 calories. You can also consumeone carbohydrate gel providing 40 to 50 grams of carbohydrate and 160 to200 calories with 16 ounces of water. Push your tolerance as high as youcan, as most triathletes ideally require 250 to 400 calories per hour.You likely will take in more per hour on the bike than during the run.Sports drinks do contain sodium, though you may have a taste for somethinga bit “solid” during the Ironman, particularly on the bike.For a triathlete, one of the best methods for gauging your own tolerancesis to experiment during training, particularly when cycling, as this legis your chance to load up and prepare for the run. Try to test your limits,and determine if you need to stop drinking about 30 minutes before startingthe run. Seasoned triathletes pay attention to what their body signs andsymptoms are during an Ironman. Poor concentration and feeling discouragedmay reflect a need for glucose. On the other hand, if you are drinkingbut start to feel bloated, your stomach is not emptying, and you need toback off a bit. When your stomach if comfortably full, you should be ableto empty half of it contents every 10 minutes. Even the “best drinkers”are able to replace only 80 percent of their fluid losses. However, sometriathletes who have a good stomach day can take up to 100 gram of carbohydratein an hour. — MR
Monique Ryan, MS, RD is author of “CompleteGuide to Sports Nutrition,” and “SportsNutrition for Endurance Athletes” from VeloPress. She is a regularcolumnist for VeloNews and Inside Triathlon magazines andis founder of Personal Nutrition Designs, a nutrition consulting companybased in the Chicago area. Ryan regularly counsels athletes on performanceand health related nutrition concerns. She has consulted with the SaturnCycling 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 to WebLetters@7dogs.com.Be sure to include “Ryan” in the subject line.