Nutritional Advice for The Urban Ultra Coast-To-Coast Cycle Challenge

What products you choose for this events depends a little on what you want to get out of it.  Is this a long slow training day for you, or do you want to race this?

If it is the latter go for more fast carbs (gels in combination with race mix, energy mix, or big energy mix and a few juicebars), however if you want to get through the distance at a more relaxed pace than slow release carbs (training mix and juice bars) with a few gels are a good option. 

Do read the “What you need to know’ section below!

Products we suggest depending on what you want to get out of your race, or training:

Super Hydration Mix: makes an electrolyte drink with a very low amount of carbs, for general hydration before and after, or for fasted training

Fizz Tabs: makes an electorate drink, without any carbs, this is a little harder for your body to absorb than the above product, but if you don’t want any carbs in your hydration this is great.  This product would be for general hydration before and after and for fasted training

Training Mix: makes a slow release energy drink and includes electrolytes.  Has 20g of carbs in a 500ml bottle. Use this product for your easier training rides, or for the event itself if slow and steady is what you are after.  Slow release means that you do not get spikes in insulin, it is like your ‘diesel version’ and it allows you to keep burning fat for longer. We now also have Training Mix ORS which is the flavorless option with the same slow release carbs.

Race Mix, Endurance Mix, or Big Energy Mix: they make a fast energy drink with electrolytes.  Race-Mix 18g in a 500ml bottle; Endurance-Mix 36g in a 500ml bottle and Big Energy 80g in a 500ml bottle.  This can be used for racing when you need a steady stream of fast carbs.

Gels: all our gels have approx 22g of carbs in them, they are all designed to be very easy on the stomach.  We have truly Isotonic gels and Real Fruit gels.  Isotonic means they are super easy for your body to absorb and you don’t need water with it.  The Real fruit gels are super tasty and nearly isotonic. Gels are for racing and even if you are going for the ‘take it easy’ option in this event, you should have some with you and some in your car.  Gels can also be used for hard interval sessions during training.

Caffeine Gel: also with 22g of carbs and caffeine, this will give you a great boost, but keep these for the last 1 or 2 hours of your race (see below explanation)

Juicebars: these are more solid than the gels with 26g of slow release carbs.  Good for when you feel like something more solid during your race, or for the slower event approach.

Real Food: for our advice about bagels, dates and sandwiches etc please read below but we would suggest to add some small treats to your nutrition plan, may it be a mini mars bar, a small sausage roll or whatever else you like, but keep it small!!

Fueling your Event – What you need to know – Info about the mechanics

Unless you are very sure that you are able to stay in a keto (fat burning) zone, with a low carb intake, (which would require extensive training to adapt your body to do so and this particular event would probably be too long!!) you need about 60 to 90 grams of carbs per hour to perform well. 

When your body works hard your fuel will be from your fat stores and carbohydrate stores.  Your body will burn both at the same time; to start with more fat than carbs and after a while this changes to more carbs than fat.  After some time you will run down your bodies own carbohydrate stores and hit the proverbial wall!  Thats why it is needed to have a steady stream of carbohydrates coming in as this will be your main fuel for a great part of the race.  

Your body won’t be able to digest more then 60-90g of carbs per hour, but it is highly likely that you are going to burn a lot more calories then 90g of carbs per hour. 

The advice is to try to be as close to 60-90 grams of carb intake per hour as possible. 

Fueling should start with dinner the previous evening and breakfast (see our hand out on Endurance Nutrition Advice).  In the half hour or so before race start you should already start with the Race fueling / carb intake. If you add everything up, by the end of your race you should have reached that average of 60-90g per hour (incl your warm up fuel).  Triathlon, cycle, run; Its all the same. 

So how to go about making a nutrition plan?  You need to make a schedule and do your maths and then try to stick with it.

Decide what you are going to have just before the race (drink? Bar? Gel? Combo?) and know how many carbs are in there.

During the race, determine how many gels or bars you are able to consume/carry and how that needs to be topped up with a drink mix.  You could have 3 gels or bars per hour and have a low carb electrolyte drink, or 1 or 2 gels and a really high carb content in your drink.  Also find out what will be served on course (carb content) so you can add that into your plan.

Write out this plan, add everything up and see how this looks.

The trick is to start eating straight away (starting in the half our before race start) and not wait until you start to get hungry as your body won’t be able to cope with a sudden high level of carbs (it only copes with 60-90 grams per hour)

Whether you get your carbs from gels, bars, bagels, or a carb loaded drink comes down to personal preference.  Secret training has a variety of gels and bars, but also a variety of drink mixes from low to very high in carbs.  Including one drink mix which is unflavored and can be added to other mixes to create a higher level of carbs.  This whole range allows you to figure out what you find tasty, or at least palatable, and what works for your body.  It also allows you to choose more wisely the balance between carbs from food and carbs from drink (which is entirely a personal preference).

Real food such as bagels/sausage rolls, or chocolate there is nothing wrong with that if your body is able to digest this; mentally this might give you welcome boost, the downside is of course that you don’t know exactly how many carbs there are in it.  If you are adding ‘real food’ in your plan research how many carbs are in it.  Another approach to real food could be to minimize the serving size and make it more a mental boost (which can have very real effects) but not rely on it too much for carb intake.  Real food can be harder to digest then specially designed isotonic products.

Regarding GI distress (diarrhea, bloated feeling, vomiting) our advice would be to stay clear off products high in fructose, as these are often the cause of GI distress. Fructose draws water into the intestines.

We advise no caffeine in combination with carbohydrates until the latter stages of your race.  Caffeine is likely to direct your metabolism away from fat burning into the direction of carbohydrates. The longer your race is the longer you want to stay in a zone where you burn a maximum amount of fat (in combination with carbohydrates).  So a cup of coffee pre- race might be counter productive!

Practice with all your foods.  For instance if you want to go for a high carb drink and add extra carbs in it, practice to see if you tolerate this.

Nutrition during Training

Although it is wise to practice with your race nutrition during training, you don’t want to do all your training with ‘race nutrition’

Practicing with race nutrition is a good idea for various reasons.  You want to know what you find tasty; do your intestines cope with it; practicing with getting a gel down during a bike and a run, the logistics of it all on the bike and run

Training with Carbohydrates

As explained in the above paragraph ‘fueling your race’ your body performs best when well fueled on carbohydrates.  In order to get stronger muscles, more power, more endurance you need hard training sessions powered with carbohydrates, such as time trial like sessions, intervals, track sessions.  Well fueled you will be able to push harder this will stimulate your muscles to become stronger and will increase your cardiac output. 

Training without Carbohydrates

You do not want to take full on carbohydrates every training session.  Your body fat is another source that your body will use as fuel during racing.  By incorporating several training sessions a week on either slow release carbohydrates (Stealth training mix, or Juicebars) , or completely fasted (no breakfast, no snacks, no gels or anything during the session apart from some water or very low carb electrolyte drink) you train your body to use fat more efficiently as a fuel source.  The ability of your body to use fat as a fuel source is extremely valuable when you are racing longer races.  This type of training session would be your slower easier rides or runs. 

For questions, please contact us!

Posted on 13th Sep 2021