Nutrition for the Tour of Sufferlandria

Getting through a nine-day event like the Tour of Sufferlandria isn't going to be easy. Fitness, mental prep, organisation and sheer willpower are going to have to be brought to the fore if you want to get through it faster and stronger than you went into it. Hell, you'll need those things just to finish!

Nutrition is also critical. You're going to need the right fuel before, during and after each stage to make sure you're powerful on the day, and recover properly for the next day. The Minions prefer a big heaping bowl of barbed wire right before they take a refreshing lactic acid bath. However, we had a chat with our friends over at PowerBar about what kind of fueling strategies would be best to get through the tour and they assured us that wasn't the right approach for everyone.

BEFORE the stage:

It depends a little bit on what time of day you do the stage. If you're going to suffer first thing in the morning, you should consider a small snack or meal to refuel the body since you haven't eaten since before you went to bed.  You could have toast with a bit of peanut butter and a banana, or a PowerBar Performance Energy bar with an apple, or a bowl of cereal with berries and low-fat milk. Don't make it too heavy, and remember: low-fat and low fiber before a workout can help prevent GI upset. If you're not much of a morning person and prefer to hit the stage while your co-workers and friends are at happy hour, then you should consider an afternoon snack about an hour or so prior to clipping in.

In addition to consuming between 100 to 200 calories and 25 to 50 g of carbohydrates prior to your session, you should also drink 14–20 ounces (400–600 ml) 60-90 minutes before exercise.

The table below has some ideas on how to get your fuel in. Just choose 2 of the items and you're good to go:

[table id=53 /]

A word about sodium. It's a critical electrolyte lost in sweat so that's why we pay attention to it here.

DURING the stage:

For those stages of the Tour of Sufferlandria that are around 60 mins, (Stages 2, 4, 7) you shouldn’t need to be too concerned about fueling strategies during the stage.  If you fueled up beforehand, your body has enough glycogen stores to get you through those tough but shorter stages.

However, days 1, 3, 5, 7 and 8 are all more than an hour long. On these days, you should consume about 30-90g of carbohydrates per hour (higher for more intense and longer rides), ideally around 45minutes into the workout.  Sports drinks and energy gels, like the PowerBar PowerGels taken with gulps of water, are staples that work for most people and are easy to consume while on the bike.  Other good- to-go carb sources include jam or honey sandwiches, low-fat crackers, pretzels, and bananas.  Sports bars and energy chews are more substantial, but are not as easy to consume while on the bike. Don't foreget to keep the items close to you - in your jersey pocket or on a table near you so you can reach it easily when you need it.

The table below has ideas on how to get your fuel. Choose 1 to 2 of the following for consumption during the stage:

[table id=54 /]

Hydration Objective:  Staying hydrated is critical to getting the most out of your suffering and recovery.  When riding indoors you don’t have the cool air flowing over the skin to cool your body like you do when you are riding outdoors.   You tend to sweat more when “Hell Hath No Fury.”  Sports medicine guidelines recommend that you tailor your fluid intake during exercise to your sweat rate as sweat rates vary widely between individuals.  PowerBar has a handy Sweat Rate Calculator to calculate your sweat rate and obtain a hydration plan tailored to your specific needs.  A sports drink that contains sodium along with carbs helps replace this key electrolytye lost in sweat.

You want to avoid losing more than 2% of body weight during your ride.  Therefore, if you are 150 lbs at the start of a ride you should not lose more the 3 lbs.  Weigh yourself before the start of the stage and at the end of the stage.  Be sure to dry yourself off before you get on the scale.  If you have lost more than 2% of your body weight you did not hydrate enough during the stage.  Each pound lost is the equivalent of about 16 oz (about 500mL) of fluid.

AFTER the stage:

After your workout, don’t continue your “Downward Spiral,” start the recovery process by taking in enough protein to provide the amino acid building blocks needed to repair your muscles.   Consume 20 in 20:  Take 20 grams of protein within 20 mins after exercise to maximize the muscle rebuilding and repair process to get you ready to go again the next day.  In addition, you should rebuild your glycogen stores by consuming 0.5g of carbohydrate per pound body weight per hour for 4 hours (or 1g / kg / hr for 4 hours). Example:  150 lbs (68 kg) = 70-75 g of carbohydrates per hour for up to 4 hours following the stage.  That is a total of 280 – 300 g of carbohydrates. To get that all in, choose a combination of the following:

[table id=55 /]  

Keep your flag flying by making sure you've got the right fuel for maximum suffering. 

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