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It takes more than one bottle to rule all your rides. Distance, temperature, and intensity all place unique demands on your body, and you need to fuel accordingly. We talked to Robby Ketchell, Garmin-Sharp’s director of sports science, to get the low-down on the team’s nutrition plan—and tips you can apply to your own ride.
Setting a Standard
Garmin-Sharp relies on a basic drink mix racers can use in most conditions. A body can only process 250-300 calories an hour, so the mix provides as much as 250 calories per half-liter bottle.
Ketchell orders their mix from Infinit Nutrition (you can design your own blend at www.infinitnutrition.us), and it’s built around a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein. The protein aides in carbohydrate absorption, and delivers a steady flow of the muscle mender to boost round-the-clock recovery.
Whatever mix you choose, drink often, said Ketchell. “One of the most important tips for on-bike nutrition is to simply keeping a steady stream of nutrition in your system. Don’t wait 5k for a downhill to sit up and eat, it might be too late,” he said.
Like Garmin-Sharp riders, you should supplement your drink mix with solid food. Clif is one of the team’s sponsors, but Garmin-Sharp racers eat more than just the company’s flagship energy bars. “Some of our guys love Clif Bar’s Z Bars. They’re 100 calories and easier to eat on a ride,” Ketchell said.
TRY IT: Fill your water bottles with 150 to 250 calories and a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein. You can add a downsized serving of whey protein to your bottle or use a protein-carb mix like Accelerade. Then pair it with a 100-calorie snack like Clif’s Chocolate Chip Z Bar.
Hard and Fast
Stick to liquid and gels on short, intense efforts that last less than an hour, like a time trial or criterium. You can get by without solid food, plus you probably won’t have a chance to eat. “Gels and sports drink give you a quick hit of glycogen when you don’t have time to chew or unwrap food,” he said.
Time trials, however, require fewer on-bike calories as your body is largely burning carbs stored from the previous night’s supper. Garmin-Sharp racers might consume a gel at the halfway point, but not to boost energy. “A little glucose actually helps create phlegm, so riders don’t get a dry throat,” Ketchell said.