• Mark Turnbull

How to Approach Carbohydrate Intake During Training and Racing


The consumption of carbohydrates plays a huge role in the daily life of the athlete. Good practice has to be maintained in order for the athlete to maintain the intensity and duration of the prescribed training and to recover as quickly as possible from it. In addition to sleep and rest, this is done through the consumption of foods rich in carbohydrates (pasta, rice, potatoes, cereals, isotonic drinks, bars, etc.) before, during and after training and / or competition. However...

  • Is this carbohydrate intake always justified for physical exercise?

  • How does the intensity, duration and objective of the training matter in nutritional planning?

  • What happens to the other two macronutrients (proteins and fats) in our diet?

The first thing that we must take into account when planning and periodising our nutrition is the main objective of the training and the personal objective of the athlete. The planning will be different, if our main objective is to improve body composition (lose fat), or if we want to increase muscle mass or improve our athletic performance.


If we are in the pre-competitive period and we are going to carry out an intense training block including a series above the anaerobic threshold, the main source of energy before, during and after training should be carbohydrates, followed by 30-40g of protein of high biological value at the end the session. On the other hand if we are going to do a low intensity training (example: bike 2h FatMax) the pre exercise meal could be only protein, on top of the bike only protein and post training, carbohydrates and protein.


With what purpose? Improve mitochondrial biogenesis (increase the number and size of mitochondria), angiogenesis (increase vascularization) and lipid oxidation (greater combustion of fatty acids) that will make us more efficient, improve body composition and consequently increase performance in competition .


As a general rule and given that most of the time athletes, cyclists in this case, are in long periods of caloric restriction to improve body composition, dietary protein should be kept elevated 2-2.5g / kg and lipids around 1-2g / kg day depending on the total daily caloric expenditure.


It is vitally important that when planning any nutritional guideline or strategy it is under the supervision of a qualified Dietitian-Nutritionist so that deficiency states or any other problem derived from an incorrect diet do not occur.


Here is an example of an alternative and nutritional planning according to different types and intensities of training, which will always vary according to the tastes and needs of each athlete since INDIVIDUALIDSATION is the key.


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