Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Enough Protein?

I don't stress too much about my day to day nutrition. I like a pizza and beer as much as anyone else. However, there are some key times when you should be very aware of your nutrition when in training. The 30 minute window after a good hard ride is when your body will appreciate it most. This is an important time to replace the glycogen in the muscles and repair the damage to the muscles by eating protein.

Protein is used to repair muscle cell injuries from the trauma that occurs during training. It is not a good energy source. So how much protein does a cyclist need? It depends on what type of training you're doing. If you're doing a lot of long slow distance riding, you'll generally need about 1.3 grams of protein per Kg of body weight. If you're doing intense riding, you'll need to increase your protein intake to approximately 1.6 grams per kg of body weight.

For example, if you weigh 80kg and are training with intensity, you will need about 128 grams of protein per day. You can easily achieve this by eating a regular diet (non vegetarian) without supplements. However, the best time to eat protein (about 30g) is in the half hour directly after training. Your body can absorb approximately 30g of protein in a sitting, so eating more isn't necessarily better. A good protein choice is good ol' fashioned chocolate milk. A 750ml bottle of iced coffee or chocolate milk has 20-30 grams of protein and only costs $3.00. It is not necessary to spend $80 on a massive pale of bodybuilding protein powder. Milk has an ideal amount of protein/carbs/fat, making it an excellent recovery drink.

DO NOT eat much protein in the hour before an intense ride. No more than the peanut butter on your toast! Protein is difficult for the body to digest and slows down the glycogen absorption to the muscles. You don't want that unless you plan to get dropped like a bag of bricks in the first kilometer.