At CHPT3 we've come from a world of professional cycling where nutrition is everything. But, with the race numbers removed and a new team environment made up of all sorts of different types of cyclists, our thoughts of fuelling and recovery became less important. Until we met Form.
As well as making by far the nicest tasting, best mixing nutritional products we've tried, Form Nutrition's business is one that we admire greatly. A certified B-Corporation, their environmental impact permeates everything that they do; from sustainable sourcing of their plant-based product, through to the people who they support. It's what a nutrition brand ought to be.
Form Co-Founder, Damian Soong, is a lifelong cyclist, so a relationship was formed quickly between he and David Millar, our Founder. With their team of experts, Form have put together the below feature, designed to help us cyclists of all levels get the most out of our rides and feel better on the bike than ever before.
Why nutrition is the key to making those cycling gains
You’d be hard-pressed to find a sport as consumed by the minute details as cycling can be. And when it comes to nutrition, the devil lies in that detail.
It’s important to give your body the food it needs, or else it will be an uphill battle to reach your health and fitness goals. This is where the right carb intake is important prior to a ride. The same goes for after a ride when protein becomes necessary to repair damaged muscle tissue and help you recover.
Whatever level of cycling you're at, we can all benefit from getting our nutritional basics down before and after every ride - here’s the Form guide to doing just that.
What to eat to fuel your ride
“If you’re cycling for less than an hour, there’s really no need to place any notable attention on your ‘fuel’ if you’ve been eating normally,” says Dr. Adam Collins, head of nutrition at Form. “This is because you’ll have plenty of glycogen stored to complete your ride without any issues, most likely for up to two hours.”
The body breaks down most carbohydrates from the foods we eat and converts them to a type of sugar called glucose, which is then stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. For rides over two hours, Dr Collins recommends eating foods that release this glucose into the body quickly like pasta or rice so that you can eke out your glycogen stores for longer.
Bear in mind that you can only really process about 1 gram of carbs per minute into the system which is around 60 grams per hour. Aim to fuel yourself with high GI carbs at a rate of about 60 grams per hour you're intending to ride then.
All cyclists know another way to boost your energy before a longer ride is through coffee, or more specifically, caffeine. An incredibly well-researched performance enhancer, caffeine’s half-life is up to five hours. So if you’ve consumed 100 mg you should still have 50 mg in your body five hours later - enough to power you through even your longest rides. A strong cup of coffee is about 100 mg.
The effect of caffeine is greater when taken in a water-less state like in our Form Boost capsules and paired with the calming amino acid L-Theanine for a stable, focused energy, free from the jitters and headaches sometimes associated with drinking coffee.
Using protein to help you recover
Once the ride is done, it’s time to put your body into recovery mode. As well as carbs to replenish lost glycogen, protein is important here, as it works within every cell of your body to help your muscles repair, meaning you can get back on the bike sooner.
Protein is comprised of 20 amino acids; 11 of these amino acids are produced by the human body. For good health, we must get the other nine ‘essential’ amino acids from the foods we eat. When a food contains all nine of these amino acids, it is called a 'complete protein'. Form’s Performance Protein is a complete vegan protein powder, with 5g of BCAAs per serving to aid muscle protein synthesis, and all from plant-based proteins.
In terms of timing, many swear by the anabolic window, a 30-minute period after exercise where the intake of protein and carbohydrates can supposedly aid in the increase of muscle mass. In reality however this window is a bit of a myth.
What is undisputed however is the need to keep daily protein levels up, and this is best done by consuming quality ‘complete’ protein during the course of the day.
Our recommendation based on the research out there is to consume 1.2–2.0 grams of this protein per kg of body weight per day. The upper end of that range if you’re very active, the lower if you’re more sedentary.
If you’re new to the protein shake game, measuring your protein intake like this might seem a bit of a faff. But really it's as easy as two heaped tablespoons shaken, not stirred (we don't use scoops at Form; the ocean doesn't need another bit of non-compostable plastic floating around in it). And we're certain once you’ve seen the marginal gains in strength and recovery paying attention to your nutrition can provide, you’ll be hard-pressed to turn back.