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Which nutrition strategy is recommended for Swiss Epic?
On a multi-day event like the Swiss Epic, certain conditions that influence nutrition change almost daily. Factors such as weather, acclimatisation, training status, body weight and individual biological variability are too varied to permit universally binding nutritional recommendations. In addition, the diet must be adapted to the objective: Is it about winning or is it simply about comfortably finishing? And, last but not least, the general conditions and catering options on site must also be incorporated into the nutrition strategy. For these reasons, it is not possible to provide generally valid nutrition rules in quantity and order for the Swiss Epic mountain bike race or similar long-distance endurance events.
Of course, there are certain basic rules and measures that remain roughly the same. One conceivable nutrition strategy could be the following:
Before the start
• The two days before the competition: Carbo loading with CARBO LOADER, 4 x 1 portion per day each
• 3 to 4 hours before the start: POWER PORRIDGE, portion size according to your own feeling of satiety.
• Up to 1 hour before the start: LONG ENERGY sports drink and one / a few bites of HIGH ENERGY BAR, depending on the individual feeling of hunger and thirst, also depending on whether you are able to eat at all at this moment.
• Drink sufficiently, adapted to the situation and according to your feeling of thirst. Recommended drink is the mildly flavoured, acid-free LONG ENERGY sports drink.
• During competition it is recommended that you take some easily digestible solid food every 3 to 5 hours. However, this must be tested under similar conditions beforehand! For example, half a bar, but also a few bites of white bread or a ripe banana are useful to maintain gastrointestinal activity. To a certain extent, the ULTRA PRO drink can also be taken instead during long periods of endurance activities (1 sachet every 3 to 4 hours). This may already be sufficient for one-day events.
• For competitions lasting several days, something «solid» between the teeth is highly recommended, as solid food supports digestion. What and how much varies from person to person. A few easily digestible bites (white bread, banana, pretzels, energy bars, or similar) every few hours are enough, the rest can be taken in liquid form.
• If warm food (such as pasta, boiled potatoes, rice, etc.) is offered on site, make sure you try to use it. Also POWER PORRIDGE would be a valuable warm catering, if the possibility exists.
• Our OAT PACKs are recommended as very long satiating bars. These are based on oats and contain nuts, which increase the total energy content, but also puts a little more strain on the digestion. In contrast to the HIGH ENERGY BAR, OAT PACKs are also suitable for competitions in the cold because they are not as hard as the finely ground HIGH ENERGY BARs. However, the HIGH ENERGY BAR is the ideal solution for one-day competitions.
• If performance drops and/or tiredness occur, LIQUID ENERGY gels with caffeine are recommended (approx. ½ tube or 1 sachet, followed by some gulps of water or sports drink). An ampoule of ACTIVATOR with caffeine can also help in this situation; the caffeine's effect lasting about 2-4 hours.
• Especially during long competitions, the LIQUID ENERGY SALTY is very well received. This energy gel contains more salt and tastes sweet and salty, thereby offering a welcomed taste alternative.
• En route, it is important to estimate the situational needs correctly. In the case of cold/weakness, it is advisable to consume more carbohydrates in the form of gels or sports drinks. If stomach problems become noticeable, suitable solid food, oat bars or white bread should be eaten. Pure water is not recommended if diarrhoea occurs! In such a case it is advisable to eat and drink salty.
• Most important during very long events is keeping enough flexibility and listen to one's own desires. Experience has shown that even the most popular drinks/foods can quickly put you off if exertion lasts for several days.
• Furthermore, particularly with events lasting several days and high intake of (usually) carbohydrate-rich sports food, a sudden appetite for salt, protein and fat appears. This usually happens at a stage when the body has already reduced exercise intensity (partly from exhaustion) and can therefore tolerate such food. In this situation one can tolerate a lot of «normal» food in a reasonable amount: dried meat, sausages, chips, nuts, cheese or whatever else the organizer offers. However, fatty foods are of course unsuitable for daytime events and for strictly performance-oriented goals. During long exercise bouts and low intensities, however, one should and may listen to one's body desires, even if a food may be somewhat more difficult/slower to digest. Specific hunger for a certain food is usually a good indicator that it also can be tolerated.
Recovery after competition
• For occasions where you do not want to take too many different products with you, it is a good idea to use the ULTRA PRO as a regeneration drink. Also conceivable: LONG ENERGY Berry in double concentration (60-80 g + approx. 500 ml water). Like this, there is no need for additional recovery products. It is recommended to drink a portion within 30 minutes after finish arrival and possibly a second one, if there is no main meal within 90 minutes.
• On multi-day events, it makes sense to take another portion of CARBO LOADER or a portion of ULTRA PRO before going to bed in order to start the next day with energy stores refilled.
Rough nutrient dosage guideline
Approx. 60-80 grams per hour, during long-term endurance up to slightly more than 100 g/h can be absorbed and metabolised.
Depends on and varies strongly according to the situation, 0.4 to 1 litres per hour advised. Note: with drinking volume also the ingested energy content changes, which has to be considered with the intake of other energy sources accordingly.
Basically not necessary, but some studies point to an increase in performance and recovery if protein is already taken during performance. Approx. 20 g protein every 3 to 4 hours for events lasting 6 to 8 hours or longer. Ideal for this: ULTRA PRO or AMINO 12500. The ULTRA PRO drink can be considered an alternative to solid food, but must be prepared with water immediately before consumption and cannot be mixed several hours in advance. On shorter occasions it is easier to add/take some protein directly in the sports drink or swallow capsules/tablets such as AMINO EAC or BCAA.
Fat intake only plays a role at endurance duration beyond approx. 10 hours, when performance intensity is very low and fat can be digested. It can be neglected and should not intentionally used in a one-day event as it may quickly act negatively, if exercise intensity becomes too high.
Author: Remo Jutzeler
Head R&D SPONSER SPORT FOOD
Ing. Applied Food Sciences UAS
MAS Nutrition & Health ETHZ