Sports Nutrition & Body Care - Optimally Fueled with Bars, Gels, Sports Drinks and Creams
The Basics - Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins, Electrolytes and Vitamins
Your fat stores are almost inexhaustible. It doesn't matter if you have 8 or 25% body fat. An average of 50,000 kcal is available in the fatty tissue to supply your muscles with energy. However, burning fat requires a lot of oxygen and a lot of time, so your body uses this form of energy only predominantly during slower activities.
For more intensive activities, it is essential that the energy can be provided quickly and effectively. Depending on the level of training, there are several hundred grams of glycogen in the muscles and liver. In the form of glucose - the main breakdown product of carbohydrates - it replenishes your glycogen stores, which should be well stocked especially before competitions or hard training sessions. Read more about so-called carboloading in the section on nutrition before training and competition!
In everyday life it is usually recommended that about 60-70% of your daily diet should consist of carbohydrates. As fat, as mentioned above, is also an important source of energy in everyday life and sports, it is rather disadvantageous to try to consume little fat. Ideally, fats make up 20-30% of your diet. Healthy fats from nuts, seeds or vegetables are preferable for better regeneration and health and can also be practically snacked in the form of natural raw or nut bars.
You don't have to worry about a lack of protein in your everyday life. The recommended amount is approx. 50g per day and can be achieved without problems through a balanced diet. Nevertheless, some advantages can be achieved for sports if one specifically uses protein-rich food or protein powder and protein bars, especially after training or competition. Depending on the type of sport and the desired goal, an intake of up to 1.2 - 1.7 g/kg body weight can be sensible. For strength sports or with the goal of gaining muscle mass, you should rather be at the upper end of the recommendation. But also cyclists, runners, swimmers, triathletes and a lot of other athletes benefit from a well thought-out use for various reasons. Read more in the section on nutrition after training and competition!
Drinking too little is much less of a problem than many would intuitively suspect. More often, inexperienced athletes are more likely to consume excessive amounts of water, which can even lead to dangerously high blood thinning or water intoxication. In order to counteract this, it is important to bring the electrolyte balance back into equilibrium with special sports drinks, isotonic drinks or electrolyte tablets.
In a healthy and balanced diet, no supplementation of vitamins is usually necessary. But there are some exceptions. Especially vegan athletes should pay attention to the regular intake of vitamin B12. In dark seasons, the body often produces too little vitamin D and can therefore be supplemented with food supplements. In weight training, substances such as BCAA or creatine are often used to support the body and muscle growth.
Before Training and Competition - Energy Gels, Carbohydrates, Caffeine and Sports Drinks
In the last 3 days before an important competition you should try to increase the amount of carbohydrates a little bit without directly eating significantly more or differently than usual. Try to continue to eat healthy and balanced foods, but make sure that they contain a little less fat, protein and fibre. Especially when you are approaching the decisive day. This way you can give your digestive tract some rest. Neutral and carbohydrate-rich snacks are also useful before intense sessions. Especially since it is of immense importance to test all new gels, bars, chews or drinks a few times during training before the competition.
For a successful carboloading, where you try to fill up your glycogen stores as much as possible, it is helpful to use specially composed carbohydrate bars or carbohydrate drink powder. These can be taken conveniently throughout the day in addition to or in between your normal meals. Another advantage of carboloading is that when glycogen is stored, water is also stored and is then available to you in addition to the energy on day X.
The last big meal should usually be at least 3 hours before the start and should contain around 300 g of carbohydrates. In the last hour before the start, an extra energy gel or Energy Gums can be consumed, depending on the tolerance and length of the upcoming activity. The body's reactions to caffeine are also very individual, but in people who tolerate it well, positive effects have been measured if a concentrated amount (approx. 5 mg per kg) of it was taken with the gels or bars in the hour before the start.
During Training and Competition - Carbohydrates, Electrolytes, Caffeine & Hydrogels
One of the most important components of successful competitions and training sessions is the ability and art of having the right amount of energy available. For this it is not only important to know how much energy your body uses, but also how much you can take in from the outside via gels, bars and drinks and digest it without any problems.
Depending on the state of training, type of sport and intensity, up to 1500 kcal per hour are burned during exercise (an exact figure can only be found out through performance diagnostics). Greater efforts also mean a higher carbohydrate consumption. However, since even excellently trained athletes can only store a maximum of approx. 600 g of glycogen (corresponds to approx. 2400 kcal) in the body - and this can only be achieved by targeted carboloading - it is evident that energy is used up sooner or later during longer activities. Normally, the supply of glucose is sufficient for about 60-90 minutes, which is why fast runners, for example, could complete a half-marathon without gel, but would reach their physical limits in a marathon if they wanted to reach their best time.
The carbohydrate depots can be conserved by using fat oxidation. However, this is mainly activated after about 15-30 minutes at lower loads, even though they provide part of the energy supply even at more intensive loads. With increasing performance levels - especially through training sessions on an empty stomach - the proportion of fatty acid combustion can be increased.
Strategically used energy gels, bars and sports drinks with carbohydrate mixtures can help to solve this dilemma. As the absorption of classic carbohydrates such as maltodextrin in the intestinal wall is limited to approximately 60 g per hour, many current products consist of several compound components, such as fructose, which is not converted into glucose and can therefore be absorbed additionally (up to 30 g more). How many gels or carbohydrates in which form you need and tolerate best is best tested regularly during training. In the case of sessions lasting several hours at the performance limit (marathon, Ironman and the like) it may even be advisable to take in a gel or 60-90 g of carbohydrates in chewable or drinkable form every half hour in order not to run the risk of having emptied your reserves too far in advance.
The addition of caffeine can also promote the absorption of carbohydrates. In addition, you should always take the gels with a little water or use hydrogels directly, which are already packaged in a diluted concentration. In order to transport your water supplies, sports drinks, gels and bars in a sensible and comfortable way and to be able to test them during training, we recommend buying a drinking belt or backpack or running vest, with suitable drinking bottles, hydration systems or softflasks.
And to make sure that your skin feels as good as the rest of your body on long bike rides or other adventures, there is a wide range of chamois, anti chafing creams and skin repair gels available.
After Training and Competition - Carbohydrate-Protein Bars and Recovery Drinks
Recovery is the most important part of training. What you do and eat after exercise determines what adjustments your body can make to make you stronger, faster and more enduring. Especially after intensive sessions and competitions, not only are your glycogen stores empty, but many small tears in your muscles are also in need of repair. According to current information, these also cause the so-called "delayed onset muscle soreness". Accordingly, your body needs enough energy and building blocks to carry out the repairs and improvements.
Ideally, in the first few hours after your activity, you should focus on eating quickly digestible carbohydrates (approx. 1-1.5 g per kg body weight) and sufficient protein (approx. 0.2-0.5 g / kg). Special recovery drinks (carbohydrate-protein-drink-powders), recovery bars, protein bars and also protein-rich nut bars will help you to do this. Sufficient fluid is essential after sweaty sessions and competitions to restore the balance in the body. This also includes the intake of salts/electrolytes. For maximum relaxation you can also pamper your tired muscles with special sports creams. So that you are quickly ready for action again. And stronger than ever before!