Fuel, baby, Fuel!

Most of the country is under a heat wave. Here in the Midwest the heat and humidity have been relentless. Additionally, most of us are in the biggest blocks of training as we prepare for summer and early fall events. Thus, it is vital that you dial in and do not skimp or miss on fueling your workouts.

At Evolve we reccomend fueling with a source that includes carbohydrates and sodium - it is important to have an understanding of your own GI issues as well as your sweat rate. Athletes with a high sweat rate will suffer most in the heat.  If you do not know where to start, or have had numerous issues in the past, we would reccomend that you utilize a professional to dial in your needs.

 We  have our athletes fuel before, during, and after workouts. 

There are three main reasons to fuel before, during, and after your workouts when we are in season:

 a) Improve performance and recovery, b) Train the gut to handle fuel, c) Hydrate


Here are the most common reasons why people skimp or under fuel:

1.       They only drink and eat when they are at a full stop or at a slow roll.

2.       They are trying to work on body composition and want to “bank” some calories.

3.       They cannot carry enough bottles on their bike, or hate to run with anything.


Let’s pick apart each one of these.

1.       As a general rule, most people who do not have expert bike handling skills, only tend to reach down when they are at a stop or slowing to drink. Then when they do drink they tend to guzzle. This is problematic as it often does not allow for enough hydration and in some cases if you guzzle this can lead to GI distress with too much air in the stomach. The cure for this is simple if you have aero bars (which we would argue would be helpful to all triathletes who do not come from a cycling background). An aero bottle will allow for you to drink more, drink often and to stay steady on the bike. This is magnified in a race situation, so do yourself a favor and get an aero bottle and use it often. Also, add a bento box to your bike tube so that you can easily reach your fuel. Pre-open packages of nutrition if you are nervous about bike handling and eating.

2.       Many of our athletes use My Fitness Pal or similar apps to journal their food. We are huge fans of food journals as it helps to dial in what works and does not work, it is proved to help aid in weight control and it can be really useful to troubleshoot GI issues. However, MFP uses an algorithm that gives you back calories when you exercise. This can promote some to skip fueling in an effort to save calories for treats or food outside of training.  If your goal is to lose or maintain weight, it is best to not count your burned calories, fuel in a smart way and do not earn back calories. It might not be fun, but the real way to see performance and body composition gains is through your eating outside of your fueling of workouts. There can be a tendancy to under fuel, and then gorge after a workout. This is neither healthy nor will it aid you in your training. We find that if athletes properly fuel, they tend to eat more sensibly outside of training. This is even more crucial if you want to perform well. You cannot perform to your best ability if you are not fueling your workouts. We somtimes here, "I don't need to fuel", and yet these same athletes tend to have headaches, their data slows as they hit longer sessions, or they feel chronically rundown.  If fueling your workouts freaks you out, try for two weeks to properly fuel before, during and after all workouts, and to eat whole foods outside of training along with avoiding overeating. See if you notice a boost in your training – we are certain you will!

3.       Many bikes only hold two bottles, three if you have an aero bottle. You can also get rear cages that can add another two bottles. However, even with four bottles, you will still need more fuel if you are headed out on a long bike ride in the heat. We suggest that you pack extra sports drink powder in a baggie and put it in your back pocket. Plan routes where you can get water and mix up fresh fuel. Many people have a hard time with fueling in the heat due to flavor fatigue of hot liquids. Grabbing fresh water will promote proper hydration.

If you do not own a fuel belt or handheld bottle, you should purchase one for the run. At first you may find this very awkward, but the more you run with this the more natural it will become and eventually you will not want to run without it.

Hope these tips help you stay ahead of the game!