Common Nutrition Mistakes at Tour of the Gila

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Kristen Arnold, a prominent figure in the world of cycling coaching, is renowned for her dedication and expertise in optimizing the performance of cyclists across all levels. Combined with her extensive experience as a Registered Dietician and Director Sportif she is able to offer a unique perspective on common nutrition mistakes at Tour of the Gila.

  1. Underhydrating Off the Bike:
    While many athletes may be attentive to drinking fluids and electrolytes on the bike (although this may also be a room for improvement for many riders), they often under-hydrate before the race starts and after each stage. Standard recommendations for fluids are to replace all fluids lost x1.5 within 4 hours post race. For some athletes this may be up to 3+ liters of fluid. Drinking small amounts often, rather than chugging moderate to large amounts less frequently, will promote a higher amount of fluid absorbed. Athletes may think they are hydrated because their urine is clear or pale yellow, but often this is a false positive if they are chugging fluids rather than sipping. The body can only absorb so much fluid at one time and the rest goes to urine production. Bottom line, athletes should sip small amounts often of 3+L (1L is about 32oz) total fluids with some electrolytes outside of the race and aim for a pale lemonade urine color.Example off the bike fluids: 12oz coffee or tea + 8oz orange juice + 16oz sports drink pre race + 16oz milk or soy milk with post race recovery shake + 32oz water with electrolyte tablet or stick + 12oz water
  2. Not Meeting Carb-Needs, Post Race:
    Fully restoring glycogen levels after a glycogen depleting activity, like a bike race, can take up to 24 hours. To accelerate this replenishment athletes should take in carbohydrate-rich foods and products consistently over the 4 hour period post stage. While many athletes focus on protein post race which promotes muscle protein synthesis, they don’t necessarily focus on carbs post race for glycogen replenishment. Athletes should aim to take in 1-1.2 grams carbohydrate per kilogram body weight within 30 minutes post race.Example post-race recovery snack for a 150# athletes: 20oz chocolate milk + 1 banana
  3. Not Meeting Carb-Needs, Pre Race:
    Carbohydrates are essential to endurance performance promoting greater time to exhaustion, higher total power output, and greater repeatability of high intensity efforts. Having full glycogen stores and a steady stream of glucose to the blood will ensure the athlete has fuel on board for each stage.
    Athletes should aim for 1 to 3 grams carb per kilogram body weight 1 to 3 hours pre race. The more carbs an athlete eats, the further out their meal should be to have enough time to digest them. 2 grams carb per kilogram body weight for 150# athlete is roughly 137 grams carb. For reference, 1 cup cooked oatmeal contains only 27g carbs. To reach carb goals, athletes are advised to eat a variety of carb-rich foods in their pre race meal to more easily meet their total carb needs.Example pre-race meal for 150# athletes 2-2.5 hours before: 1.5 cup cooked oatmeal + 2 tablespoons maple syrup + 8oz orange juice + 1 banana + 1 tablespoon peanut butter
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Coach Kristen Arnold, with her extensive background as a Registered Dietician and Director Sportif, brings a multifaceted approach to optimizing the performance of cyclists, evident in her insights on common nutrition mistakes at events like Tour of the Gila. One critical area she highlights is the tendency for athletes to underhydrate off the bike, emphasizing the importance of consistent fluid intake to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes. Furthermore, Arnold underscores the significance of meeting carbohydrate needs both pre and post-race to ensure optimal glycogen replenishment and sustained energy levels. By addressing these key nutritional considerations, Arnold equips cyclists with the knowledge and strategies necessary to enhance their performance and excel in their endeavors.