Fixed Gear Crit

What a cyclist should eat to perform best on Red Hook Criterium: Cycling nutrition tips & tricks given by an expert in sports nutrition

Nutrition is key to perform well for an athlete, but sorting out nutrition on a day at Red Hook can be quite hectic. For example, the days are long; they start early in order to ensure that they have the opportunity to explore the course before the heats, and they end late if and when one makes it into the final. For over 12 hours athletes will be present at the venue. We asked Cas Fuchs, a PhD student at Maastricht University focusing on Sports Nutrition, what he thinks is the best substinence to perform best in the race.

“For those athletes aiming for top performance during Red Hook, there are several “easy” nutritional strategies they can practise.” Cas Fuchs

Cas Fuchs

Photography: Tornanti.cc / Brian Megens

Days Prior to RHC
“Well, the preparation regarding nutrition should start not on the day of RHC but ideally a couple of days prior. In those days, it would be smart to optimize your glucose supplies. One relatively easy strategy to reduce your training while increasing your carb intake, which can be in the form of pasta, rice, or bread etc. Protein intake can stay the same, assuming that you ingest adequate amounts already. Furthermore, I advise not to drink alcohol in those days as this will probably negatively affect your performance during Red Hook. Another important factor is to hydrate enough, ideally with water. You can easily see if you drink enough or not, if your pee is strong coloured you didn’t drink enough, and if your pee is watery and you need to pee a lot you are probably drinking too much.”

A Pasta meal is a good way high carb meal. Photo by Brian Megens

On RHC day, prior to the race
“On the race day make sure to have a good breakfast with plenty of carbs, but avoid food sources rich in fiber, so stay away from wholegrain food. This is definitely of relevance for athletes that often experience gastro-intestinal issues. If your heat is early, breakfast is likely to be the last big meal (~3 h pre-exercise). Furthermore, taking one big cup of strongly brewed coffee an hour prior the race could be beneficial due to its caffeine content. Now here comes a tricky thing, normally I would say it is ok to take an energy bar 1 hour prior to the heat in order to provide some extra energy. However, for some people this energy “shot” can actually cause your body to produce too much insulin making you feel more tired instead of energetic, right at the start of exercise. Nevertheless, this phenomenon seems to occur only in a small number of people but to make sure that you are not one of them, test such a strategy during training sessions before doing it first on a big race like RHC. This counts by the way for all the strategies you are planning to use during races.”

Energy bars and gels are perfect to get sugars in closer to the start. Photo by Brian Megens

On RHC day, after the heat going into the final
“It is unlikely that you will have used all your stored carbohydrates during the first heat. However, it would still be advised to refill the glucose levels with some sugary drinks and sugary food, in order to make sure your stored carbohydrate levels are refilled. What is of special importance is to make this a mixture of glucose and fructose, for example in a ratio of around 50/50, which is easily achieved by mixing white sugar with water. This addition of fructose is of particular relevance for increasing carbohydrate storage in the liver. Of course some sports supplements also have this combination of glucose and fructose but in case of confusion just know that white sugar is a good and cheap source, and widely available.”

Sugar is a good mixture of glucose and fructose. Photo by Brian Megens

“When you have several hours before the final, super pole, or last chance, make sure to go for a carb rich meal such as white rice, pasta, or white bread. Some protein can be added but it should not be the main focus of the meal in this situation. Also taking an energy bar and coffee before the race could be beneficial.”

Make sure to get those carbs in 3 hours before the race! Photo by Tornanti.cc

After the finals
“As there is no big need for fast recovery as there is no race planned on the next days, it does not really matter. However, taking some carbohydrate and some extra protein for muscle recovery and adaptation can never hurt.”

Photo by Tornanti.cc