The Ultra Cycle Diaries – Nutrition
The crucial component of staying
competitive in Ultra Race is staying fuelled.
The distances that we ride aren’t really
compatible with regular feeding.
So we have to eat regularly on the bike.
That will include having a bag of nuts,
or a bag of Haribo sweets,
or Nutrigrain bars for example.
These are all the things that I have.
Maybe every 5-10 minutes you’re either having
a couple of nuts, Haribo, a Nutrigrain bar.
I’m going to see using blood chemistry,
how endurance riding has affected
my levels of Glucose and the lipid
profile of my blood.
The way we measure blood glucose for
example is with this crazy gadget.
On the electrode, just drop the blood
and now it’s starting to read.
My blood Glucose is 3.7.
3.7 is quite low.
I’m normally around 5.1, 5.2.
They’re my baseline values
that I was recording
before I came out here.
Studies which have investigated the impact
of ultra endurance cycling on energy,
have identified large deficits
in energy intake, versus usage.
However, there are discrepancies between
studies on the magnitude of this deficit.
Most likely due to the differing methodologies
used to acquire this information.
As yet, no-one has measured sugar
or lipids from blood to investigate this.
So I wanted to contribute to this
knowledge base, by doing just that.
So here we can see a graph, which plots
blood concentration of glucose in pink,
cholesterol in blue
and triglycerides in yellow
over the course of the race.
Corresponding shaded areas
represent baseline values
which are recorded at home
before the race.
What these data show, is that early in
the race the levels of these components,
that are vital for providing energy,
are often higher than the normal range,
especially early on.
Only on one occasion does the
Glucose level go below the normal range,
and even that is not by much.
I must confess,
I find this data counterintuitive
and don’t really understand
what is happening here.
Perhaps measuring blood sugar and lipid do not
accurately inform us of our energy status.
What is more, this is a case
study and may just be a one off.
It is important in this context,
to use this information,
not as knowledge that can be
applied to the general population,
but as the basis for performing
more studies, in more people
in order to evaluate the
reproducibility of this finding.
Only then can we speculate
as to what it means more generally.
You might also have noted,
that the frequency of the readings
becomes less later in the race
and seem to stop altogether
before the end of the race.
Leading to an incomplete data set.
I wonder what happened there?
Picking times to make these measurements
is very difficult.
For example, one idea was to do it
pre- and post-meal,
but, I’m constantly eating.
Constantly eating and then I sit down and
I have something a bit bigger.
On the whole I’m just constantly eating,
I’m not sure,
what it would actually mean
to have post, pre measurements.
I’ve just taken some more blood tests.
I only took two, because the third one,
I couldn’t get enough blood.
I think it might just be
I’m very, very dry
very dehydrated and I’ve been largely
filthy for the last 72 hours
and opening the skin with a lancet doesn’t
seem to be anything I should be doing.
You can actually see where I’ve
been lancing my fingers
and the dirt is just collecting in the small
wounds and I will demonstrate that now
And here you can see,
all those black dots
The Eastern European brother of what
we might know as a Calippo.
It’s saved me the past 24 hours.
It seems to have had a soothing
effect on the stomach
and I’ve been eating
almost exclusively, Calipsos
and no solid foods.
And I’m hoping that’s going
to get me over the finish line.
So let’s see!