It's that time of year again, it sneaks up on us and before you know it the days are short, the temperature drops and it’s time to dust off that turbo or drag the thermal kit out. Winter training is all about setting a solid foundation to build upon for the next season.
With that in mind, it’s important not to neglect good nutritional practices. The call of cake in the off-season is often a weakness of us all but remember optimal fuelling and recovery when training is going to help towards bigger training adaptations, so it’s worth sliding a few of those slices of cake to one side.
Make sure you set yourself up for long training miles with a good carbohydrate-based meal. Consume this meal 2-3 hours before training where possible to allow it to settle. If you have to eat closer to training then eat a lighter meal and make sure you’re ‘on the bike’ fuelling is right. A simple idea of a meal to have prior to your weekend club ride is good old porridge made with milk. Training on an empty stomach is not wise for long or intense winter training, you will not get the desired training effect and you will certainly compromise your immune system.
A planned training ride should always have planned nutrition. Make sure you are taking adequate food and drink with you to fuel the whole ride, the last thing you want in the midst of winter is to run out of energy miles from home. Be sensible, eat, drink. Cold weather should not necessarily mean increased energy intake, it’s only when you start shivering that you burn more energy. Keep moving and dress appropriately.
Aim to consume 1g of carbohydrate per kg body weight per hour (1g/kg/h) to sustain your energy levels for a brisk riding pace. Consuming carbohydrates during training has also been found to aid immune function, which is particularly important in the winter months as the dreaded colds do the rounds.
EXAMPLE FUELLING STRATEGY
A 70kg athlete would need to consume 70g of carbohydrates per hour, this equates to any of the following:
• 500ml of OTE energy drink + a medium banana
• Medium slice of flapjack + an OTE energy gel
• 2 small cereal bars + a half an OTE Duo Bar (which will be back in stock very soon!)
• Small jam sandwich + small slice of flapjack
• Winter layers and gloves can make it harder to access or open your energy food. Break these barriers down by making sure your food is in small bite-size pieces or easy to open packaging. This may mean you need to open some packaging before you set off and make sure you have your food in easy to reach pockets.
• Prevent the bonk during long training rides by having emergency food such as an OTE energy gel in your pocket. This can be a lifesaver and enable you to get home safely.
How often have you carried round full bottles of energy/hydration drink on your bike in winter and never touched them? Granted, freezing cold drinks aren’t the most desirable but staying on top of your hydration as well as fuelling is important. You may not feel like you are sweating as much but with multi-layers of kit on you actually create a hot micro-climate close to your body, which equals sweat. It is, therefore, important to remember to drink. As little as a 2% loss in body weight through sweating has been shown to reduce performance, so don’t compromise your training by forgetting to drink. Approximately 500ml per hour should be sufficient or try and stay just ahead of the feeling of thirst. Using products such as OTE energy drink makes for a much more palatable, lighter on the stomach and enjoyable drink, whilst providing carbohydrates and electrolytes too.
• When it’s really cold they often set off with a bidon (bottle) full of sweet tea. Agave nectar is a great sweetener.
Whether you train outdoors or indoors it makes no difference, getting your post-training nutrition right is going to make a huge difference towards helping your body adapt and improve from the training you have undertaken. So what do you eat? It needs to be a combination of carbohydrates and protein, carbohydrates to replenish the stores in your muscles and protein to aid the recovery of muscle damage. You also need to opt for something that’s quick to make and ideally something that is rapidly absorbed as our bodies have a 30-minute‘ window of opportunity’ post-training. Eating within this time frame has been shown to be the best way to optimise recovery, especially if you have multiple training sessions within a 24 hour period. Basically, the sooner you eat and hydrate the better your recovery and adaptation will be.
Here are some quick and easy ideas for post-training recovery snacks:
• Chicken or tuna sandwich
• 2 eggs on toast
• 500ml low-fat chocolate milk
• Bagel with low-fat cream cheese
There is only a small portion of protein with each snack, this is because your body can only process around 25g of protein at one time, eating more protein than this isn’t beneficial and is more expensive.
• Be organised. If you know you have a long winter training ride planned make sure you have your recovery strategy planned and ready to go as soon as you get back. OTE recovery shakes are perfect for this as they have been specifically formulated and can be made instantly and effortlessly, even when you are tired.
• Another way to optimise recovery and help to build muscle is to have a source of protein (25g) just before bed to slowly feed your muscles throughout the night. A glass of milk, yoghurt or a small protein shake are good examples.
They often say winter miles equal summer smiles; so be smart, fuel up and get the most out of your time on the bike this winter.
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