Forget about weight loss
It’s important to set priorities when it comes to nutrition in your 6-week lead up to a race. One thing that’s off the table is weight loss. With only a few weeks to race day, there’s not enough time to both improve your fitness and lose weight in a healthy way.
Leave weight loss for next year’s off-season or early season when you’re building your aerobic base and have a few months to establish a sustainable calorie deficit that will lead to weight loss without sacrificing training quality.
Focus on fuelling your training sessions
As you know from the first article in this series, you will be adding more high-intensity sessions in the weeks leading up to your race. You will only be able to fully execute these training sessions if you’re well-fuelled. With this goal in mind, your top priority will be getting your overall energy intake right. The composition of macronutrients is less important. Don’t get distracted by trying to hit exact numbers of carbs or protein while undereating.
If you’re not sure how to approach this, check out our article focused on “Fuel for the Work Required.” This framework uses a simple green, amber, and red colour code to help you know what type of meal to prepare, so you’re always properly fuelled for the training session ahead.
On the bike
When it comes to nutrition on the bike, your main priority is to practice a nutrition strategy that you’ll use in your race. In general, your nutritional strategy depends largely on the length and intensity of the event.
Long races – If you’re preparing to take part in a Gran Fondo, a long gravel race, MTB marathon, or even a multi-day tour, you have to train your gut to handle a lot of carbs while cycling. Ideally, you want to get somewhere between 60-90 grams of carbs per hour. This may be a lot more than you eat in training, which is why practicing this high intake is crucial.
Short races – If you chose to compete in a shorter cross-country MTB event, criterium, or some shorter road race, you won’t be able to take in as much fuel in the saddle. There will be fewer opportunities to eat and the high intensity won’t leave much blood flow for your digestion. For these types of events, you should focus on dialling in your pre-race nutrition and hydration strategy on the bike.
Hydration can make or break a race even if you train well and eat right. If you need a refresher on the basics, check out our article covering when to choose hypotonic, isotonic, and hypertonic drinks, how to replenish electrolytes, and how many litres of fluids to drink per hour.
Handling the basics well will keep you out of trouble, but if you want to have an edge, you should consider the specific hydration needs of your event. That’s why we put together hydration guides for gravel races, MTB marathons, and even tips for desert races like the Titan Desert.