Fuel For A Full-Throttle Season
Now is the best time to examine your nutrition program and make sure it will optimally support your training.
60-65% of their total calories from carbohydrates, but during the height of the competitive season, endurance athletes like you need even more. Increasing carbohydrate?s contribution to 70% of your total caloric intake should help ensure that you?re getting enough to replenish glycogen stores between workouts. The importance of glycogen replenishment should not be underestimated, as it is one of the keys to preserving the quality of your training, as well as your ability to perform at your best on race day.
If consuming 70% of your calories from carbohydrates seems high, consider what Lance Armstrong and the rest of his teammates eat during the Tour de France. With the unrelenting pace of the event, their carbohydrate needs are extreme, and as a result, they can consume as much as 75-80% of their calories from carbohydrates during some race days.
Don?t Overdo It With Protein:
Since your total calories increase as you move from the Preparation Period to Specialization Period, it?s natural and necessary for your protein intake to increase, but there?s no reason to overdo it. During the height of the competitive season, consuming 0.8-0.9 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight should be sufficient to meet your needs for recovery and maintenance of lean body mass. For a 165-pound athlete training 8-12+ hours/week, this would be about 100-115 grams per day.
Adding more protein won?t lead to further improvements in recovery or performance; rather you run a significant risk of displacing carbohydrates in your nutrition program. Even though your liver can and will convert excess protein into glucose, the process is relatively slow. When you?re trying to rapidly replenish glycogen stores, you don?t want to rely on the liver?s ability to produce glucose from protein; it?s better to do the job with carbohydrate.
Of course, whenever you talk about protein and endurance athletes these days, you have to address the issue of carbohydrate and protein mixtures in recovery foods/drinks. In the process of developing the formula for the new PowerBar Recovery drink, the CTS coaches and I found we could reduce the protein content of a drink while still achieving the recovery benefits that carbohydrate/protein recovery drinks are known for. With a carbohydrate:protein ratio of 7:1, the drink provides enough protein to accelerate glycogen replenishment, without displacing the carbohydrate that actually gets stored as glycogen in muscle cells.
Consider Your Sources:
Your high caloric demands do not give you a license to eat with wanton disregard. While you are seeking to consume hundreds of grams of carbohydrate each day, it?s important to consider the other nutrients those foods carry with them. Brown rice, for instance, contains more fiber and delivers more beneficial vitamins and minerals than bleached white rice. Their carbohydrate content, however, is the same.
Whole grains, and products made from them, are ?quality carriers? for carbohydrate, meaning they deliver beneficial cargo in addition to carbohydrate energy. The concept of seeking quality carriers cuts across carbohydrate, protein, and fat sources, and generally places an emphasis on fresh vegetables and fruit (carbohydrate); lean cuts of