What drinks for cyclists?

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Drink and sport: what to drink before a race?

Whatever sport you practice, a good level of hydration of the body is essential to optimize performance and avoid injuries. “Water is the fundamental drink for basic hydration, it can generally be sufficient before the start of a race” indicates Laura Martinez.
We therefore recommend drinking between 500 and 750 ml of water two to three hours before the race, to ensure a good level of hydration.
On the other hand, we avoid drinking large quantities of water just before departure, in order to prevent possible digestive discomfort.

“In rare cases of competitive racing, if breakfast was eaten more than 3 hours ago and you feel a drop in energy, it is possible to take a 'waiting drink' whose composition is close to isotonic drinks: water, maltodextrin and a little sodium” adds the dietician.
The objective is both to maintain good hydration and to provide a minimum energy intake without causing digestive discomfort.

Energy sports drink during exercise: what is the best isotonic drink to drink while cycling?

Competitive cycling is a very energy-intensive sport, which induces an energy expenditure of up to 600 calories per hour. Added to this are water losses, linked to sweating, which can be more or less significant depending on the person.

“To compensate for these two losses and remain efficient throughout the race, so-called isotonic drinks are very effective,

“A drink is said to be isotonic when its concentration of particles is the same as that of blood plasma. This specific concentration allows it to be very quickly absorbed and assimilated by the body, and to ideally compensate for its losses” explains Laura Martinez.

These isotonic drinks contain a source of energy (maltodextrin, glucose or sucrose) at a rate of 50 g per literet mineral salts.
These isotonic drinks should be differentiated from hypertonic drinks more concentrated in sugar and particles than plasma, and hypotonic drinks less concentrated than plasma.
Hypertonic drinks contain between 60 and 90 g of sugar per liter and are recommended in very cold climates, and hypotonic drinks provide 25 to 30 g of sugar per liter and are suitable for hot and humid weather.

“Cyclists must drink on average 500 ml per hour of effort. I recommend them to drink a few sips every 15 minutes approximately, and to alternate water and isotonic drink” explains the nutritionist.
They carry their drinks in 750 ml flasks or cans which they generally slip into their jersey pockets and on the frame of their bike.
There are usually bottled water stations along the route.

Homemade isotonic drink recipe

While there is a big market for exercise drinks, sold in supermarkets, online or in sports stores, it is also possible to make your own isotonic drink at a lower cost.
“To make a homemade isotonic drink, simply mix 250 ml of grape juice with 500 ml of water and add a pinch of table saltnamely between 0.5 to 0.75 g of salt” explains Laura Martinez.

What to drink for recovery after exercise?

During intense effort, such as a cycling race, the muscles may lack oxygen for energy production via the aerobic metabolism. They then switch to anaerobic metabolism to produce ATP. Glucose is broken down into pyruvate, which is then converted to lactate (or lactic acid) to quickly produce energy. It is then the accumulation of lactate and protons (H⁺) in the muscles and blood, which decreases pH and increases acidity in the body.

To find an acid-base balance and buffer acidity, we recommend water rich in bicarbonate. To compensate for sweat losses, water must also provide sodium. Laura Martinez

Vichy St-Yorre® sparkling mineral water fulfills these two functions, since it is both rich in bicarbonate and salt.

If the effort was of very long duration (more than three hours), one recovery drink may be recommended. “These drinks that you find in sports stores contain water, carbohydrates, proteins rich in BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids)” explains Laura Martinez.

This drink allows both glycogenic repletionnamely the replenishment of the body's glycogen stock, and muscle regeneration.

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