How To Improve Your Cycling Training Results With Nutrition

How To Improve Your Cycling Training Results With Nutrition

October 25, 2019 100 By William Morgan


– Being as light as possible,
as well as getting stronger and fitter
are things that most
cyclists strive to achieve,
yet, what most professional
cyclists are able to attain.
But, how do they do it?
Well to find out, we’ve come
to speak to James Morton,
head of nutrition at Team Sky,
to find out those very secrets.
Now James, we all know
the importance of getting
your nutrition right when training,
but let’s assume that you’ve
got your training dialled,
that remains the same,
how could you manipulate your nutrition
to better improve the
effectiveness of your training?
– This is a great question.
It’s one of my favourite areas
of sport nutrition naturally
because for many years,
we’ve all thought about the intensity
and the duration of training sessions,
as in that’s the most important thing.
But actually, we’ve been involved in
Liverpool John Moore
University for many years now,
looking at that very question actually.
How can you maximise the
response of muscle to training?
Simply by changing what
you’ve eaten before,
during, and after the session itself.
And actually, you can perform
exactly the same amount
of work done on the bike,
but you change one of those three things
and you can totally change
how your muscle responds to exercise.
It’s remarkable, really.
We’ve pulled out over 1000 muscle biopsies
in the last decade.
Usually our studies are
focusing on high carbohydrate
versus carbohydrate
restriction, if you like.
So, restricted carbohydrate
before, during, and after,
and we consistently see at the level
of gene expression in muscle.
So cells and molecules,
that you restrict the carbohydrate
and the muscle seems
to amplify all of these
regulatory processes that
essentially all depends
how much mitochondria you make.
And this is filtering
into elite sport now.
– So this is the kind of
fasted training side of things, isn’t it?
– Yeah, there’s many ways
to restrict carbohydrates.
I guess the simplest way would
be a fasted exercise session.
So, you simply have your
breakfast after training,
rather than before training.
Or you restrict
carbohydrate after training.
So, rather than recovering straight away,
you deliberately withhold
it for a few hours
or maybe you just don’t have
sport drinks during training.
Another way to do it is
to split your session,
so you have a session in the morning time
to strip your muscle of carbohydrate.
You don’t feed any carbohydrate
and then you perform a session
in the afternoon again.
So, you deliberately commence that session
with low muscle glycogen
or in fact, maybe you
should just amalgamate
all those strategies together
and kind of get the best of everything
and we call that an amalgamation
of train-low paradigms
and that’s under the umbrella of fueling
for the work required.
– What about, are there any
specific other food groups
that you think are important?
That people should perhaps
look at and consider,
that could give benefits or
improve our riders training
or at least their recovery from training?
– Well the obvious one is
protein really, isn’t it?
I think endurance athletes in
general, not just cyclists,
but across the board, probably
under consume protein.
Although, I think the research
and the use of good sport nutrition,
partners like Science
in Sport, for instance,
are now communicating
the importance of protein
to endurance athletes.
– It is quite a controversial
subject, isn’t it as well?
There’s a lot people think
you can just eat carbs.
I mean full stop without protein at all,
which is quite an
interesting point of view.
– The reality is, muscle
is made of protein
and when you perform
hard exercise sessions,
you’re essentially degrading
all of those muscle protein stores.
To recondition that muscle
and rebuild that muscle,
you have to put protein
back into the system.
So that’s where you need
high quality amino acids.
So, I guess when it
comes to protein feeding,
one of the key ingredients or
key amino acids is leucine.
– I think that’s one of Dan Lloyd’s
favourite amino acids,
leucine, apparently.
– It’s interesting
because what leucine does
is kind of act as the switch to almost
instruct the muscle to
start building new protein.
So, supplements like whey
protein, for instance,
is naturally high in leucine,
but it also contains all of the
other essential amino acids,
so leucine kind of activates the muscle
and instructs the muscle
to make new protein.
But of course, then you
supply all the other
essential amino acids in the
post exercise recovery period
and over time, the muscle
kind of remodels itself.
Makes itself stronger and more functional.
– What about the involvement
of other food groups?
So like your vitamins and your minerals,
that we see in fruit and vegetables,
that clearly has an important
part to play as well.
What would be the detrimental effect
if you didn’t get that balance right?
– Well that’s more from an
immune perspective really.
So, vitamins and minerals
certainly don’t improve performance.
They’re not really going to
enhance training adaptations
unless you’re deficient.
But the reason why vitamins and minerals
are important from a
nutritional perspective
is obviously the immune system itself.
But they’re also involved
in the regulation
of energy production.
So unless you’re really deficient in them,
then there’s probably not a real big need
to enhance training
adaptations by consuming
vitamins and minerals but certainly during
heavy periods of competition and training,
then we would advise that
because you want to keep
a healthy immune system.
You want to stay on the bike.
– Absolutely, fascinating
stuff, James Morton,
been a pleasure, thanks very much.
So, low carb, high protein
and really steady weight reduction
seem to be the way forward.
But as ever, we’d love
to hear what you think.
Leave your comments down below.
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Now, for a couple more nutrition videos,
you can click here and here.
So click up here for pro
cycling nutrition tips
and just down here for
when to eat while cycling.