Nutritional Practices in Trained Cyclists Prior to and During an Ultra-Endurance Cyclosportive

Andy Sparks, Craig Bridge, Mark Bell, Claire Lindsay

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Introduction: Cyclosportive events often take riders > 5 hours to complete. These events therefore require considerable training and appropriate nutritional strategies prior to and during the event if optimal performance is to be achieved. Recently, the recommendations for carbohydrate (CHO) ingestion during exercise bouts > 4 hours have been increased to 90 g/hr, but little is known about the habitual ingestion strategies of these athletes in preparation for and during cyclosportive events. The aim of the study was to determine the caloric intake of trained cyclists prior to and during an ultra-endurance cycling event. Method: Eight trained male cyclists (age 40.3±6.6 yr, weight, 79.6±7.2 kg) completed a 241 km undulating route with 3225 m of vertical ascent at a mean ambient temperature of 17.5 (range 12.2 – 22.2) C. During the event, food stations at 103, and 196 km provided participants with opportunities to ingest additional food and fluid. Records of ingestion during each section of the event and at each station. Prior to the event participants also completed a 3-day diet diary. Dietary analysis was used to calculate total caloric intake and rate of CHO ingestion during the event. Perceptions of fullness, thirst, muscle aches and effort were also measured prior to the start, at each station and at the end of the event. One sample t-tests were used to compare CHO ingestion rates to recommended amounts and repeated measures ANOVA was employed to determine changes in perceptual responses during the event. Results: Mean caloric content of the pre-event diets for the 3-days was 3032.6 ± 537.4 kcal with 3907.0 ± 910.9 kcal ingested on the day prior to the event. Participants achieved just 5.8 g/kg CHO, which is significantly lower than the recommended intake (mean diff = 4.2 g/kg, t = 8.47, p < 0.001, ES = 0.95). The pre-event meals contained 638.1 ± 222.9 kcal and during the event riders consumed 2356.7 ± 654.0 kcal. Rates of CHO ingestion during the event of 40.9 ± 12.2 g/hr were significantly lower than recommended (mean diff = 49.1 g/hr, t = 11.36, p < 0.001, ES = 0.97). Stomach fullness was unchanged (f = 2.08, p = 0.133, ES = 0.23), but thirst (f = 14.71, p < 0.001, ES= 0.68), muscle aches (f = 50.54, p < 0.001, ES = 0.88), and effort (f = 67.10, p < 0.001, ES = 0.91) increased significantly during the course of the event. Conclusion: The cyclists ingested insufficient CHO in the days leading up to and during the ultra-endurance event. This prevented them from achieving an optimal nutritional strategy, with likely negative performance implications.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015
EventAnnual Congress of the European College of Sport Science (ECSS) - Malmo, Sweden
Duration: 24 Jun 201527 Jun 2015


ConferenceAnnual Congress of the European College of Sport Science (ECSS)


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