Moveable Feast Staff (from L-R) Isabel Betancourt, Sue Elias, & Alisha Thompson.

Just over two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of joining the Moveable Beasts Team and all our 2021 Ride for the Feast participants in completing a century ride on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It was a beautiful (albeit windy) spring day. As a Community Dietitian here at Moveable Feast, it was incredibly exciting and heartwarming to meet so many of the people making a positive impact on those we serve. 

Despite my most ambitious intentions six months prior to the event, I decided to change from the century ride to the 30 mile ride, as I confess that I did not train for the longer distance like I had hoped.  With that said, I was ready to cruise through the event and just have fun! As an avid exerciser and registered dietitian, what could possibly go wrong? Well, it turns out, a lot!  I woke up with absolutely NO appetite, forced myself to drink some water and crossed my over-confident fingers that I would make it through on half a banana (spoiler alert: I totally bonked). With that being said, here are some hard-learned tips to get you through your next endurance event! 

  1. Race day is not the day to try new things. Resist the temptation to show up in untested sparkly new outfits or with novelty snacks.  Stick to what you know. 
  2. Fluids
    • Hydrate the day before! Set alarms and reminders, you really want to start the race well hydrated. Pro tip: avoid alcohol the day before. 
    • Day-of hydration goal: At least 16 oz (or 2 cups) of fluids every hour; preferably low-carb sports drinks to help replace electrolytes. 
      1. Pro Tip: You can also have a juice and water mixed drink if you don’t like the taste of sports drinks (like me), but make sure the snacks you’re eating have electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium). 
  3. Carbohydrates (a.k.a. carbs) are your number one priority for refueling. Protein, fiber and fat are “extra”. Unless it’s a multi-day event, don’t stress over it too much and just focus on your carbs. 
    • Two things to consider for carb needs are (1) volume and (2) intensity. In other words, the longer and the faster you ride/run/walk, the more carbs you need. 
      1. Pro Tip: Find carb sources with different types of sugars, it can help with gut absorption. Review the ingredient lists of your gels/blocks/bars. 
      2. Keep in mind most “whole foods” already have different types of sugars. Bananas naturally have fructose, glucose, sucrose and maltose.
    • The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30-60 grams of carbs at every hour of an endurance event. Keeping in mind volume and intensity, I feel my best with 30-40g of carbs per hour (on a bike, I’m pretty slow and steady). More competitive or new riders may need closer to 60g per hour to feel energized.  If this is your first time riding a lengthy distance, I would recommend sticking to the higher end of this range as well. 
      1. Pro Tip: Most of us only digest about 1 g of carbs/minute, so more is not always best. Eating too many carbs can leave you nauseous, bloated or with stomach cramps. 
    • Pick foods that taste good to you. One of the best perks of getting ready for Ride for the Feast this year was (of course) finding good snacks! Here are a few home-made ideas for high-carb snacks: 
      1. Banana (1 medium=27g carbs)
      2. Medjool Dates (2 pitted= 30-35g carbs). *High in potassium and other minerals! Highly recommended snack. 
      3. Sweetened Apple sauce pouch (22g carbs). Unsweetened it’s only about 12-15g of carbs.  
      4. Waffle or pancake (1 homemade=25-30g carbs) 
        • Folded with 2 tablespoons of jam or maple syrup can bump the carbs to 45-60g (FYI, syrup gets a little messy)
      5. Large raisin oatmeal cookies (one, homemade =25-30g carbs). *A Higher fat snacks can help stave off hunger.
      6. Baked potatoes! (I have not tried this one yet). My college sports nutrition professor was an avid rider and he swore that this was one of his best snacks: small baked potatoes, salted and wrapped in foil. I have to say that this is a great idea if you don’t have a sweet tooth or if you are looking for something higher in potassium. (1 medium potato= 35-40g carbs). 

There are a lot of great tips also referenced in this article from Bicycling Magazine if you’re looking for specific information for cycling activities. I look forward to meeting many of you next year at Ride for the Feast 2022!



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