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Coach's Column with Namrita O'Dea

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |October 11, 2011 1:42 AM

This week our question goes to Namrita O'Dea. A licensed dietician and member of the Topeak/Ergon racing team, O'Dea helps riders fine tune their bodies for maximum performance through her business 55 Nine Performance Nutrition.

Question: In a race of 6-8 hours should I be following a system for eating. How often should I eat? How many calories should I get? When should I be taking solids vs gels vs liquids.

Answer: First, make sure you are well hydrated and have full glycogen stores before even getting to the start line of an endurance race.  Depending on your pace, you'll want to aim for approximately 200-250 calories per hour during the event.  The more intense your pace, the more carbohydrates you'll be burning. 

As for form of delivery, there is no difference seen between gels and liquids when it comes to your body being able to use them for energy.  If you are using gels, you'll want to wash them down with water or a sports drink.  Because you want to be taking in some calories every 20 minutes or so, a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink is usually the most convenient way to get the energy. You can then use the gels as a supplement to the liquid calories. 

If you do take in solid food during the event keep in mind that it may take longer to digest and absorb the solids.  For that reason, choose bars or other foods that are low in fat and low in fiber. 


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