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Nutrition
 
 
 
 
Energy Drinks

Energy drinks fulfil the dual purpose of making sure you are hydrated and properly fuelled for exercise. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of under performance in exercise, as little as 1-2% drop in hydration can equate to as much as a 10% drop in performance.

Energy drinks contain a blend of easily absorbed carbohydrates to provide fuel and electrolytes to maintain fluid balance.

If you are exercising for less than 60 minutes then plain water will be enough to keep you hydrated but for any longer than that you'll need something extra to provide energy and if the weather is warm or you are sweating a lot to replace salts lost in your sweat.

Recovery Drinks

When you've put in some serious training time you want to see results. Re-fuelling after training with a recovery drink can help prevent muscle soreness and provides your muscles with the protein and energy they need to repair damage as well as helping to re-hydrate you. Hard exercise can suppress your immune system putting you more at risk of picking up an infection, using a recovery drink will help support your immune system when it needs it most. If you are riding hard day after day these drinks really are essential for maintaining your energy levels and helping your muscles recover, your fitness will improve as faster recovery from exercise allows you to train harder and more frequently.

Gels and Bars

Energy gels and bars are the convenient way of carrying food when cycling. Gels are ideal for racing as they provide a great energy boost and are very easily digested. Gels normally come in a single serving sachet. The texture varies but can be quite sticky so they may take some getting use to. Make sure you use gels in training before relying on them in races. Always have a couple of mouthfuls of water to wash down your gel and make sure you maintain your fluid balance. Depending on brand most gels provide enough energy for 20-30minutes of high intensity exercise. Look out for caffeinated gels, these are particularly useful toward the end of a hard event.

Energy bars are designed to provide high levels of easy to absorb carbohydrate to fuel your exercise. Eating solid food during a ride helps to prevent hunger and because bars generally taste good it helps relieve the monotony of having too much sweet energy drink. Perfect for use during training and long, steady events bars don't work so well during very high intensity racing when it can be difficult to chew and breathe deeply at the same time.
 
This story was last updated on 17/01/2012