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digestion and riding

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2003 1:49 pm GMT +0000    Post subject: digestion and riding Reply with quote

Doc: here is another angle to the question of inability to digest while riding. I am wondering if it is possible to impair your performance while riding by consuming energy gel. I have to be very careful about not eating before riding, sometimes 4-5 hours after eating and then riding my stomach will still cramp. So, if a person's digestive system is slow could the energy required to digest while riding be a detriment not an advantage for something as minimal as a Gu pack? Confused
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The Bike Doc

Joined: 08 May 2003
Posts: 1371
Location: Corpus Christi and Warda, Texas

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2003 3:53 pm GMT +0000    Post subject: Reply with quote


If you use energy gels during a workout or race then you should drink plane water during the event to keep from overloading your digestive system. The gut can handle about 100 grams of carbohydrate an hour. My concern for doing just jels an water is that you may not get enough electrolytes to replace what you loose in your sweat and you may gradually deplete your sodium and potasium levels.

Do eat 2-3 hours before your race. Take a meal consisting of complex carbohydrates, high bioavalablity protein and low fat such as whole grain cereal and skim milk or whole grain bagel and a poached or boiled egg. This will be digested and ready for your muscles to use during your race. Then during your race, take a sport drink that you have found you can tolerate (experiment during your training rides). Drink enough to match your sweat losses. Again, this is something to work out on your training rides. Weigh yourself before your workout and immediately after your workout in the same clothes. For every 1/2 pound of weight you are down you are down 16 ounces of fluid loss. Pace your drinking to replace the volume you loose during your race. Adjust the sport drink mix to keep the total amount of carbohydrates consumed per hour between 60-100 grams an hour for the volume that you drink. See the prior post for more discussion on this.

Hopefully, with these simple tricks you can avoid the abdominal cramping you are experiencing while racing.

Paul K. Nolan, MD
AKA: The Bike Doc
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