Training, Racing & LCHF Fueling For Skating And Endurance Sports
In part 1 I explained why racing is not the same as training, and laid out a framework for calculating your energy and fueling requirements, the common pitfalls, and how the smart fat adapted athlete still cannot afford to neglect managing their in-race carbohydrate and protein requirements, especially during longer ultra length races.
In part 2 I wrote in more detail about the ins and outs of how different carbohydrates are treated by the body, and how we can leverage these different characteristics to our advantage before and during the race.
So now we’re down to the nitty gritty in part 3- what do I personally eat & drink during races?
Well, it’s not actually that complex or secretive at all. A disclaimer as before – what I have here is very much a WIP. My racing nutrition has already evolved considerably from last year, and I’m always tinkering and trying new things! Ready?
Water & electrolyte – easy.
UCAN – slow absorbed complex carb, promotes fat burning. I start to take this 30 minutes before the start.
Hornet Juice – contains an amino acid which promotes fat burning, and also sucrose for a fast-acting sugar trickle.
Coconut Water – Fairly trendy natural drink with essential electrolytes. Taste pretty good too.
Coke/soda – simple sugar source for those slightly more desperate moments.
I’ll strategically mix some caffeine & BCAA or Whey powder into any and all of these options, and sometimes drizzle a spoonful of honey into a drink bottle to provide a sugar trickle.
Fruit & coconut-milk smoothies – very calorie dense thanks to the coconut milk
Chicken soup/broth – the night time favourite of many an ultra runner!
Banana chips – great carb/fat mix – (the ones labelled “cooked in coconut oil” are ideal)
Honey Roasted Nuts – current preference is for honey-glazed cashews – highly palatable & moreish, with a slightly higher carb content that other nuts. Excellent fat/carb & protein combo.
Mini Salamis – fat/protein snacks. I could eat packets all day long even when I’m not racing.
Energy bars – I like to make my own from made from chia seeds, nuts, coconut flakes, chocolate, peanut butter and dates – you could conceivably live quite healthily on these alone. I’m also not adverse to the odd pre-packaged energy bar – my current favourites are the peanut flavoured “9 bars” which are pretty healthy and cheap too. They do a job, and can be a valuable source of protein.
Bananas & other fruits – they provide hydration also!
Really, this list could be much longer. I’ve been known to slurp down a can of Mackerel deep into a race. At that time your body craves what it craves, so you better be prepared to listen to it. Most of these items are easy to carry and consume on the go – you want to keep it as simple as possible for your crew’s sake as much as anything.
As a rough guideline of how I like to approach fueling for different events, for races/events less than 3hrs I will just stick to liquids. Between 3-6 I might have an energy bar and a few nuts. Up to 12 hours I would be halfway down the list of solids, and up to 24hrs then it’s a la carte, baby!
I used to try to precisely figure out my hourly energy requirement and try to plan my food intake accordingly… spreadsheets, and impossible-to-remember (much less prepare) energy mixtures. I cringe slightly when I think about it now.
The dichotomy of LCHF, metabolic flexibility and fat adaptation is that while you have to be strict about what you eat and don’t eat in on a day to day basis, in doing so you are programming your body to do most of this in-race number-crunching for you. You’ve massively simplified your exogenous fueling requirement, and therefore your fueling options are greater. Racing is hard enough as it is without trying to precisely figure an exact energy deficit that you may or may not be able to meet anyway.
Running out of fuel during a race (unless it’s because you couldn’t hold it down), ironically, is not really as much about race day fueling as it is about basic nutrition and metabolism. If you bonked then its because you energy system couldn’t cope with the demands of the race – train sensibly and fix your metabolism first, then worry about your fueling plan.
Like I said all the way back at the beginning, race fueling IS different from everyday nutrition. During a race your overriding priority is to fuel optimally to get to the finish line as fast as possible, not to be concerned with long term healthy food choices, or even adaptation from exercise you are trying to elicit. So if your body is telling you it wants something then provide for it accordingly!
And, er, that’s it for part 3. No secret formulae, ingredients or concoctions going on here, just common sense, leveraging what we now know about exercise and nutrition. Simples.
Hornet Juice: http://www.hornetjuice.com/
9 Bar: http://www.9bar.com/