CYCLING PERFORMANCE TIPS
Last updated: 1/2/2010
Solid Food versus
Liquid Diet for that Long Ride ?
One often hears the question " I'm riding an ultra distance event (more than a century). Should I consider
a liquid nutrition product for all my energy needs (e.g., Spiz, Perpetuem, Boost, Ensure,
or should I eat a combination with solid food, too?
There are several pieces to this answer.
A full liquid diet can sustain you on long rides. Some ultra-distance riders do long rides,
for example the 3,000 miles of the Race Across America, on only replacement drinks with
virtually no solid food. This means upt to 350 miles a day for 8-9 days on only liquids.
It does work for riders who have adapted. It allows them to measure their intake and thus
assure they are adequately replacing the Calories they are using, and as a side benefit it helps them
with their fluid replacement needs. and if you swish, you can supplement the full liquid
diet with an energy bar every hour or so.
- First, what is your goal? Are you looking for a Personal Record? Or are you simply aiming
to finish? If the former, a liquid diet can save time on the bike and give you a small edge
as you will minimize the risk of feeling too full or bloated. However "smart" eating of solids
should minimize that risk. If the goal is the accomplishment of finishing, you'll have
more fun if you stop occasionally to fuel up along the way.
- Second, what is your experience with liquid nutrition products? It's important to do
several long rides before attempting your event, not only for the pure training aspects,
but also to test different food and fluid regimens to see waht works best for you.
- And finally the conditions. Temperature and terrain. If the ride is hilly liquids have some
advantage. Nothing like climbing soon after some solid food to stress your digestive system.
Generally, the cooler it is, the more solid food you will crave and can easily
One risk of a liquid replacement program is monotony and losing one's appetite after
several hours. This is always a risk whether it is the same type of solid food
or fluid. In addition to the monotony of the same taste day after day, there is
the "off" or metallic taste of most liquid replacements to magnify this effect. You can
minimize this problem by varying your menu. Throw in some solid foods occasionally.
I remeber one rest stop at 150 miles in a double century where a buddy's cold (and salty)
prime rib sandwich was the best thing I had ever eaten.
For years European racers have eaten small sandwiches (panini) made
with jam, cream cheese and ham during long, chilly spring classics. But again, they have trained
to do so, the weather is cool, and the emphasis should be on "small" and frequent.
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