nutrition

Achieving YOUR Ideal Power: Weight

It’s the topic that never gets old when talking about nutrition for cyclists, as a major goal for most of us is to optimize our power to weight ratio. We all want to be lean machines and go uphill like mountain goats, right?! 

Last year I wrote an article titled “Weight Loss vs. Power Gain, The Struggle is Real” which tackled the subject by discussing methods to determine your ideal power: weight (P:W) taking into consideration male and female body type as well as personal goals. The next step is having realistic expectations of yourself and establishing healthy methods to reaching your goals.

For a quick recap of the math from the preceding article, P:W is determined by the simple formula power (watts) ÷ mass (kg). Feel free to contact me personally for help determining the realistic numbers for you, as the ideal range should be specific to your body type, fitness level and type of cyclist you are. There was a reference chart in the last article that gave P:W ranges for men and women at various fitness levels. I’d be happy to provide this information again to anyone who wants it.

So now let’s talk about methods to decreasing body fat while maintaining or increasing lean muscle mass and strength. We want to do this without limiting our ability to train. What I mean by that is if we decrease caloric intake too much, we won’t have the energy to ride. You may lose weight at first, but it is unsustainable and can mess up your metabolism over time. Taking all of this into consideration, it can be helpful to think of your body as an engine that will perform best if you put the proper fuel in the tank.

The first thing you want to do is determine your body’s metabolic needs. This can be done by measuring your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) to learn how many calories you need to survive. From there we can figure out the ratios of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins that are appropriate for you on a daily basis. Then the real fun starts: finding the exact amount of fuel you need for training and racing.

It is crucial that you get the proper amount of carbs going into an effort, keep up on energy and hydration during workouts, and recovering properly with adequate carb replacement, electrolytes, and sufficient protein so that your body can be ready to do that all again tomorrow! Again, I can help you determine those exact numbers, so use my contact info below for personal reccs and meal planning, etc. And yes, I do have a BMR machine so we can determine YOUR individual calorie and macro- needs.

For those of you who want less detail and more simple answers, here is a list of ideas and methods you can use to safely “diet” while maintaining your training load:

  • Think of your body having 2 different engines, one that needs regular fuel and one that needs sport food. All your regular daily meals should be balanced with lean proteins, healthy fats, and moderate carbohydrates, with a big emphasis on lots of raw fruits and veggies. These are the times to limit sugar, chips, candy, treats, etc. That is your “diet.” The extra calories you need on top of your BMR are energy for exercise, so that is when it is okay to drink your calories and have gels or bars as your workout requires.
  • Divide your meals and snacks up into smaller portions.You will find you are less hungry and more satisfied if you eat small meals for frequently.
  • Don’t starve yourself! You will end up binging later anyway so you’re better off to eat smaller meals more often. Keep your engine going rather than letting it run out of gas then need a huge meal. Your metabolism will thank you too.
  • Eat your carbs early in the day and around exercise.Remind yourself that you need energy to get through your day, not to sleep!
  • Have most of your salad greens, lean proteins, and other veggies at night. They will make you feel full because they take longer to digest. You can break down all that fiber while you sleep.
  • If you’re a late night snacker, find light treats that satisfy a craving, have a bite or 2, and then put it away!Or even better, make yourself a cup of relaxing tea (maybe with some honey for sweetness) and let yourself relax and get to sleep without empty calories right before bed.
  • Give your body 12 hours of a fast every day. Instead of worrying about what time you must stop eating, base the time that you finish food for the day to be 12 hours before when you’ll be eating breakfast. For example, if you’re an early bird that rides at 7am, it’s best to have dinner at 6pm then breakfast at 6am the next day pre-ride. If you ride after work, you likely eat dinner later. So maybe you are done eating at 9pm so you have breakfast around 9am the next day. The more regimented you are with timing of food, the easier it is to feel satiated and develop patterns that become habits.
  • Use a tracking app or food journal to hold yourself accountable. Being honest with yourself is a big part of being successful. So be proud of what you put in to your body, as it will change and adapt to the healthy choices you make.

Time for the customary self-promotion! My job is to do all this math for you, then provide an individualized meal plan to help you reach your goals. I’d love to help you reach your optimal power: weight and feel great on your bike, all while enjoying your food and lifestyle.

Breanne Nalder, MS, RDN has a Master’s degree in nutrition with an emphasis in sports dietetics at the University of Utah. She is a Registered Dietitian, the nutrition coach at PLAN7 Endurance Coaching. For individual custom nutrition coaching, you can reach Breanne at 801-550-0434 or breanne@plan7coaching.com.

nutrition, Uncategorized

Training and Nutrition for a Happy Healthy Heart

Endurance Sport breeds some of the best types of athletes. Hours and hours, day after day, extreme conditions, and all of the other things that go in to training and racing lead to fitness that most people in our society don’t even comprehend. With all of that also come consequences. We train our muscles and cardiovascular systems to their limits, and in doing so our hearts essentially develop overuse injury. The purpose of this article is to shine light on what can happen to our hearts, even when we are being healthy, and how proper training and nutrition can help prevent long term complications that can accumulate after years and years of endurance sport.

This topic is especially close to us. Breanne has dedicated her career as a dietitian to help athletes determine their nutrition needs in order to prevent long term problems that occur in the body, such as female athlete triad and bone mineral density loss in cyclists. She actually has osteopenia and multiple hormone problems that resulted from years of intense training and poor fueling. Dave, on the other hand, was living with Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) for who knows how many years before he was diagnosed and underwent an ablation to correct the damage that had been done to his heart tissue due to years of abuse to his cardio system. Essentially, he had an overuse injury to his heart tissue. The point of telling you our stories is to show that all of the training can add up, so we must take care of ourselves every day to maintain a happy, healthy heart.

On the nutrition side of things, some things to consider include eating foods high in omega 3s, consuming plenty of carbohydrates before and during training, staying hydrated (which includes electrolytes), recovering after every workout, and getting your essential supplements. Let’s break those topics down:

– Omega 3 Fatty Acids: healthy fats from EVOO, avocados, salmon, almonds, seeds (chia, flax, hemp) and other plant sources are essential, as they act as lubricant for every cell in our body. They are natures anti-inflammatory, and they keep our HDL levels high and LDL level low (what we want!) when these foods are chosen over saturated fatty foods.

– Carbs: our main energy source, they are not the enemy! We need 30-60 g per hour on the bike in order to keep our muscles firing and our brain functioning.

– Hydration: seems like a no-brainer, but we need 2 bottles per hour, at least one of those bottles containing a high level of electrolytes (1st Endurance EFS is our favorite)

– Recovery: you have a 30 minute time window to get recovery into your system so you can get your muscle tissue (including your heart tissue) repairing and be ready to train again tomorrow.

*Contact me for specific reccs and help with planning your recovery nutrition.

– Supplements: the mains ones to focus on for heart health are Calcium, Magnesium, and VitD, as well as omega 3s if you don’t eat enough of the foods listed above. A fish oil and/or the oil from flax/chia/hemp seeds can be a great way to up the intake of those important fats.

 

On the physical side of this equation, please consider your overall workload. Keeping yourself healthy is much more than hammering away at your training. You need to recover as hard, if not harder, than your most challenging training sessions. Overuse is for real and you will acquire injuries. Those injuries can be simple and course can be reversed with some rest and recovery. However, there are plenty of ways you can abuse your body through overuse and see some dramatic and catastrophic results.

Training with joint point, I’m talking all the major joints you would think of like knees, ankles, hips and shoulders. I’m also talking about your back and neck. Overtraining/overuse can result in your body making compensations that for the moment seem solid yet over time can create some serious issues like disc compression, IT Band Syndrome, knee and hip misalignment injuries and plenty of others.

Your heart can also be overused. If you pay attention to the cycling media outlets you’ll definitely find discussion about heart arrhythmias. Your heart is a muscle and you can take things too far, even with a super healthy heart. The idea of exercising as a benefit is a great one to follow. However, you need to pay attention to warning signs just as you would with a sore hip, knee or back. Take your resting heart rate every morning. If you have multiple days of your resting HR 10-15% above your baseline resting HR it’s time for a day off or at most some Active Recovery. By the way, Active Recovery is super easy effort. Imagine pedaling your bike with an 8 year old. Small chainring only. Minimal hills.

The best ways to avoid overtraining and overuse are to pay attention to your fatigue levels. Following a periodized training plan you definitely want to put yourself into a fatigued state to coax your body into physiological adaptations to make it more efficient. A big part of that is allowing for recovery. Err on the side of recovering more. Over-fatigue can derail a season and possibly the following season in a blink of the eye if you’re not following a solid recovery schedule.

Take some easy days, take some days off. Assess your fatigue. Tell your coach you are tired. Have a discussion about it. Be objective when you don’t feel well. Missing a day of training when you are worked over will only help you come out stronger.

Breanne Nalder, MS, RDN has a Master’s degree in nutrition with an emphasis in sports dietetics from the University of Utah. A recently retired professional road cyclist, she still competes in road racing and gravel. Dave Harward is a level 1/Elite USAC certified road and MTB coach and the owner of PLAN7.For info on customized coaching plans, go to plan7coaching.com