macronutrient Myths

macronutrient Myths

cupcake

As athletes, (athlete = everyone who exercises) we often think that we burn so many calories that we can eat whatever we want and as much as we want. In truth, athletes need to be more careful with their diet – as food is fuel.

80% of what we eat should contain properties that will boost performance and speed recovery. The other 20% we can reserve for enjoyment of life.

There are many myths and confusion around nutrition, specifically around carbohydrates (carbs) and fat, which have long been made into the enemies of most weight loss programs. This is wrong. Fat and Carbs do not make you fat.

Each of the macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates, are essential for the performance, growth, and repair of the body. Although they may be required in different quantities during different stage of training (daily, weekly, and yearly), each is just as important as the other.

Many athletes have found success following a KETO, Paleo, or Vegan diet. There are also many medical reasons (cancer, colitis, ulcers, irritable bowl, chronic fatigue, Parkinsons, etc), when these types of diets might be appropriate for you – either in the long or short term. However, choosing a diet that eliminates certain food groups requires much research and planning. I suggest you develop eating habits that you can sustain for your entire life – not just for a short period of time to achieve a short term goal. This could mean that you still chose a vegan or Paleo diet – but you are making these choices because you enjoy the diet and/or you have made a conscious decision to eliminate meat for many reasons.

The following is a quick debunking of some of the most common myths around macronutrients and how you can start to create an eating plan that is sustainable for life.

PROTEIN

Eating protein does not result in bigger muscles, but muscles cannot grow without adequate protein. Protein is one of the building blocks that make humans who we are. Every cell in the human body is made up of protein. During exercise, we deliberately create micro-tears tears in the muscles. The long-chain amino acids help repair the cells and even create new ones, strengthening the muscles. Without enough protein, micro-tears in the muscles may take longer to recover, or not repair at all. So instead of getting stronger, muscle mass decreases, and the risk of injury or illness increases. 

Athletes require 1.2 – 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. So a 68kg (150lb) athlete will need between 80 to 136 grams per day. Since the body can only digest and use 30 grams in one meal, we require at least 3 to 5 small protein meals throughout the day. 

Vegetarians and vegans will need to combine foods to ensure their meals include complete proteins. Note: A complete protein contains the nine essential amino acids that our bodies do not produce.

FAT

Eating fat does not make a person fat. Eating more than what your body requires will make you fat. Fat is essential for providing long sustained energy, supporting cell growth, allowing the body to absorb certain nutrients, and controlling inflammation, which is crucial after a long hard ride or workout. Fat is also the primary fuel source for endurance athletes. After the first hour, when an athlete runs out of glycogen, the body turns to fat for energy. Fat is not the enemy but an endurance athlete’s best friend who never lets them down.

CARBS

The primary function of carbs is to provide quick, immediate energy, sparring fat, and protein so they can do all of their other vital jobs. However, we can only store so much glycogen at once. Once glycogen stores are full, sugar transforms and is stored as fat. So while fat can sustain us for a long time, converting fat into energy is slow and not as efficient as glycogen, so topping up our small glycogen reserves by eating simple carbs during a long workout will help the athlete access quick, readily available energy. Athletes can train their body to work and become more efficient using only fat, but this also requires a dedicated commitment to a specific diet and eliminating almost all carbohydrates both on and off the bike.

So the big question is: Without following a specific diet plan, which foods are best?

Variety is the key. 

Foods that are whole, unprocessed, and from various sources will help bring about the most significant gains to enhance training and decrease recovery time. Avoid fast convenience foods and alcohol as they lack the necessary nourishment and deplete the body of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

To help simplify things, ensure that each meal contains a selection of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. The exception to this rule is immediately before training, exercising, or racing, when you want to avoid protein and fat as they take longer to digest.

Choose food from a wide variety, in every colour, and always fresh if possible. Change up your food choices every week to ensure that you are getting adequate micronutrients as well. By using many different cooking methods such as steaming, blanching, baking, or eating food raw will also allow different nutrients more bioavailable.

For athletes suffering from stomach issues, lack of energy, slow recovery, irritable bowel, or possible food allergies, take notes and record energy levels one to two hours after eating. Pay attention to how certain foods make you feel – not just in the moment – but throughout the day.

There is no one eating plan that will work for everyone, so although it may seem easier to follow a diet, you will be more successful long term if you can discover what works best for you. As you age, or circumstances change, you will need to adjust again. Hopefully, you will know your body well enough by then to make those changes, without resorting back to another diet plan.

make weight training your priority (in the off-season)

make weight training your priority (in the off-season)

Let’s first clarify that yes – every sport SHOULD have an off-season. If you aren’t training for anything specific but train for life, you should still have a few months where you slow down and focus on things that you may have neglected due to lack of time, interest, or just because it isn’t a part of your daily routine.

In Vancouver where we can ride almost year round, the off-season can be short – only a few months sometimes. Some cyclists are more fair weather riders and take a full 5 months before getting back on the road. But, either way, relying on spin classes alone should not be your only off-season training. If you hope to continue moving well for the remainder of your life, your training program needs to support this.

The number one thing that everyone should be incorporating in their off-season is weight training.

Starting from the age of 30, we lose 3-8% of muscle mass per decade. This number increases dramatically after the age of 65. Cycling is great to build muscles for the legs, but does nothing for the upper body. In addition, cycling is a non-impact sport, so it won’t help build strong bones. If you don’t want to become frail as you age, you MUST maintain a weight training program year round. The off-season is a good time to start. Everyone should aim for three 45min strength workouts per week, unless you have an active job that requires a lot of lifting. Throughout the cycling season, you can drop back to once a week to maintain the fitness you have gained.

But not everyone is ready to jump into the gym to start picking up weights. Some may need to take a step back and deal with prior injuries or poor mobility before undertaking a weight training program.

Injury Rehab

Before you can start to weight train, you first need to be injury free. Trying to build muscle on a torn tendon or tissue will create a larger problem. Find a physio. Do your exercises, and don’t start to add weights until you are pain free. If you have a chronic problem that won’t get better with physio (torn knees or blown out hips), make sure that you are doing exercises that support your injury and aren’t making it worse.

Mobility Training

Having poor mobility is a precursor to injury. If a joint can’t move like it should, your body will compensate. This works for awhile, but the added and repeated stress will eventually take a toll on your body and you will be back to the physio again. Having adequate mobility in every joint should be the FIRST goal for every lifelong athlete.

If you want to cycle when you are 80, now is the time to prepare your body, slowing down the natural decline that happens with age.

7 tips to riding a smarter fondo

7 tips to riding a smarter fondo

Whether this is your first event, or one of many, it is always helpful to review your ride strategy. Create a plan for how you want to complete the ride. No matter how many times you have ridden the same event, every year will be different, with unique challenges.

Unless you have planned to ride with friends, the riders around you won’t help you – unless you help yourself.

So how do you do that?

Unlike your commute to work, most riders in a fondo are happy to have you pull them. They will remain glued to your back wheel until you get tired and start to lose speed. Once you begin to show signs of blowing up, they will just as happily leave you behind, looking for someone new to follow. 

Your first instinct is to get angry at this mooch who stole your energy. But they aren’t bad people. They are just riding smart. So instead of getting angry – ride smarter. 

7 Tips to Riding a Smarter Fondo

#1. If you are riding in an organized paceline (which does happen when riding with experienced riders), take your turn at the front. But don’t pull any harder than the average pace/power and stay in front for only a few minutes.  Stop pulling before you get tired, not after.

#2. When you pull out of the line, pull FAR away from the other riders, so they don’t follow you. Most riders will pretend they didn’t see your signal or don’t understand, which may be true. Either way, get away from them and quickly move further back into the line where you are protected again. 

#3. If you are afraid that the faster riders will pull away while you are stuck at the back, then signal after about 5, 6, or 20 riders (depending on how big the pack is) and move back into the line, closer to the front. But remember this means you will be pulling again soon. The more often you pull, the more exhausted you will become.

#4. At some moments, you may be riding three or four people abreast, with riders in front and behind you. The group will move more like a school of fish and not an organized line. If you aren’t paying attention, you may quickly find yourself at the front and doing more work than you would like. Try to avoid this by paying attention to the speed and where people are moving. If you stay glued to the wheel in front of you, you should stay protected, i.e., always behind someone else.

#5. As the event progresses, the group will break apart as people drop off and faster riders sprint away. If you are hoping to stay with the faster riders of your group, try to assess who these riders are and keep in close contact with them. Stay close without doing all the work for them. Be ready to make a move when they do. 

#6. Fatigue accumulates over time. Even if you feel strong at the start, eventually, the effort will build up, and fatigue will set in. Even if you are a faster rider than your group, pulling too much, too hard, or too often will ultimately fatigue you faster than the riders you are pulling. If you are doing all the work, they will continue to ride fresh. As you near the finish line, they will have more energy than you. They will thank you for the pull and leave you to finish in their dust without any of the glory you deserve. 

#7. It should feel easier drafting, so don’t get fooled into thinking you can ride faster than the pack. Unless you started in the wrong group or had a flat, it is best to stay with a group than to venture out on your own, at least until the last 10km or so.

Importance of recovery

Importance of recovery

Starting a workout without adequate recovery, could be doing more damage than good.

Do this too many times in a row, and performance will quickly decline. 

For many of us, when we see ourselves getting slower, we think we need to train more. This is the last thing we should do!!!!! In many cases, more training will cause an injury or result in some sort of illness as the immune system can’t keep up. If you find yourself chronically fatigued, the fastest way to get back on track, is to first let your body heal.

One way to avoid over-training is to follow a pre-planned program which includes both recovery days and a full week of recovery once a month. Even if you are feeling strong, DON’T SKIP THE RECOVERY WEEK(S).

But recovery isn’t about doing nothing. It can include easy workouts, stretching, yoga, and “fun days”. These are added to the training program for a reason; they all help your muscles recover faster and mentally reduce stress.

So how do you make the most of your recovery time?


RULE #1

The more intense the workout, the more recovery time you need. 

48hrs should be enough rest, but you may need to extend this time if you made a big jump in your training volume/intensity or after a hard race or event. If you still don’t feel rested before your next strenuous workout, it is best to skip it and take more time to recover. 

When you first start any sport there is going to a period of adaptation. For cycling, this feeling lasts a bit longer as you are building an endurance base. Once you have established a solid base (of 2-3 hours comfortably), you should no longer be bagged and need a nap after your long rides.


OTHER TIPS (specifically to cycling but can be adapted to other sports)

1.  Add in a short (30-60min) recovery ride the day after an intense workout. Keep your recovery rides light and easy, spinning the legs quickly (over 85 RPM) with very little to no intensity.

2. Stretch hip flexors (top of legs into the abs), glutes (buttocks), quads (front of legs), low back, and hamstrings (back of legs) religiously. Ideally, do a movement stretching program instead of static holds.

3. Enjoy time off the bike to cross-train. Doing something new is a great stress reliever but will also help strengthen muscles you are not using on the bike. The most complimentary sports are swimming, yoga, tai chi, or weight training (Your focus should be on core and upper body during the summer. Hard leg and weight training are best done in the off-season during the fall and winter).

4. Your body is trying to heal from the moment you get off the bike until you get back on again. Plan meals ahead of time to ensure you are well-fuelled (both food and water) before and after each workout.  

5. Muscles repair during sleep, so don’t skimp on your zzz’s.

6. If you are suffering from fatigue, frequent colds/flu, injuries, general fatigue, depression, or more frequent irritation, it may mean that you are overtraining. Take a few days off until you feel better. When you come back to training, ease back into it slowly. Training when you are sick will likely only prolong your illness.

7.  If you follow the Kits Energy Training Program, you will see a recovery week every 4th week.  During a recovery week, your volume/distance is reduced, BUT your intensity is NOT.  By maintaining intensity, you will not lose any fitness. After the week is over, your body should have adapted to the previous month’s stress, and you will be ready to add more stress/training again.

SIDE NOTE: If you are new to cycling or a more “seasoned” rider, you may need a recovery week every 3rd week instead of four. Listen to your body as it always knows best.

2023 Triple Crown for heart

2023 Triple Crown for heart

Thank you to the organizers, volunteers, fundraisers, those who donated, and the participants, for making this year’s Triple Crown for Heart event a huge success! Also, thank you to CBC for covering the event. Rare genetic heart diseases don’t receive the same media exposure or funding for research as other ailments, so the attention is always appreciated.

Check out the CBC coverage, by clicking here, and scrolling forward to 12:44.

Overall, the charity raised $45,127 which will go towards sending children with genetic heart disease to camp . The remaining funds will go towards projects within BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Children’s Heart Network.

Among the 210 riders, 25 of them were from Kits Energy, riding either one, two, or all three mountains.

Congratulations to Lynda McCue, who won the lion, finishing 1st overall female (again) and Grant Bullington and Paul Towgood, who were among the top 5 finishers (again).

If you missed the ride this year, please add it to your calendar for next year, July 20th 2024.

Lynda McCue 1st female and Marie Campbell, found, co-chair
Paul Towgood and Grant Bullington
Kristina interview with CBC
Matt Barrow, Jana Keillor, Sara Frederking, Elaine Reid on top of Seymour mountain
Trevor McBride, Heidi McBride, Richard Press, Kristina Bangma starting the climb up Cypress
Kristina was diagnosed with ARVC in 2016. She will continue riding for as long as her heart will let her.
Loading...