Fats Proteins and Carbohydrates
You are the engine. Fuel the engine properly and it will perform. Don’t… and… you will putter out.
Your body needs different things for different functions. If your car runs out of oil you don’t go and put gas in the tank! Your engine will literally burst into flames! Your body is similar. It needs a healthy balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Lets start with the common misconception that fat is bad. Saturated fats constitute approximately 50% of the cell membrane. Together with protein, fats give our cells stiffness and integrity, they are also required to give us strong and healthy bones. Fats are essential to rebuilding cell walls; so, as levels of inflammation increase (caused by cycling or working out) the need for cholesterol (<– the fat) increases so it can rebuild the damaged tissue. Unsaturated fats are required for oxygen transfer, muscle recovery, energy production and more. Fat is also a key component in brain development. Still think fat is bad for you?
Amino acids, the “the building blocks” of protein, are used for building tissue and repairing damaged tissue. People have protein shakes after a hard bike ride or workout to repair the tissue that was torn from the stress.
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for our brains and bodies to function properly. The body breaks the carbohydrates down into glucose, the body then uses the glucose for energy, if there is not enough glucose then the body starts to use proteins and fats. If the protein is being used for energy then it is not being used to build and repair tissue and its other important functions.
The key to keeping your engine running smoothly is providing the right fuel.
What is that? You want jet fuel? You have to know what to eat and when. Some general guidelines are:
- 45% to 65% of calories eaten should come from carbohydrates.
- 20% to 35% of calories eaten should come from fat.
- 10% to 35% of calories eaten should come from protein.
These are large margins due to the fact that it depends on what you are doing. For instance, if you are doing intervals for 2 hours then you are going to need lots of carbohydrates and very little fat.
Nutrition is one of the most difficult things to master. It takes years of experience and trial and error. The best gauge is to keep comparing how you felt and performed compared to your last rides/races/workouts and adjust accordingly. This in itself is a great reason to have a training log AND a meal plan.