Knowledge Level: Beginner
In the fourth of our features profiling British Cycling’s and Team Sky’s Nutritional Supplier CNP’s Endurance Range, we look at using protein on the bike.
The benefits of protein immediately after a long or hard ride are well documented and taking on a recovery drink or meal with adequate protein, such as CNP Recover, as part of an optimal recovery routine is an essential component of successful training. However, although protein and its building blocks amino acids have been included in some endurance fuels along with carbohydrates for a while, the use of pure protein drinks on the bike, such as CNP Peptide Protein, is only relatively recently being explored and utilised.
We talk to British Cycling and Team Sky Nutritionist Nigel Mitchell about the potential benefits of taking on protein during a bike ride, the riding scenarios it applies to and its potential benefits.
Fasted rides, especially pre-breakfast, producing a low carbohydrate training environment, have long been touted as beneficial for adaptation to a fat burning metabolism and its potential associated positive impacts on endurance performance. However, if you’re fully fasted, as well as being low on carbohydrates, you’re also in a nitrogen/amino acid depleted state. This potentially could have a negative impact on recovery. So, if you take protein on during these rides, can you still get the fat adaptation benefits of riding completely fasted without compromising your recovery?
The research study jury is still out on the performance benefits of fasted training but the anecdotal evidence from riders is strong. With regards to the protective and recovery benefits of protein feeding when training in this state, a recent study on an hour fasted ride with protein showed promising results. With both GB and Team Sky riders we’ve also seen good results and have a PHD student currently conducting research on this area.
Intensity is vital
If you’re planning on including some fasted rides with protein in your training, it’s essential that the intensity is kept low. You should stick to heart rate or power zones 1-2 where your body is best able to tap its fat reserves for fuel. For higher intensity sessions or efforts, carbohydrates are essential and, without them, you’ll be compromising your training.
Real riding applications
A morning commute or ride before work is the ideal time to try fasted training with protein. You can have a black coffee before you set off, no sugar, and aim to ride for 45-90 minute. Make sure you have a decent breakfast ready to go for when you get back. Porridge, yoghurt and muesli, an omelette or scrambled eggs on toast are all great choices. For longer rides including some fat adaptation training, you should use CNP Peptide for your first bottle and then start taking on carbohydrates after 60 minutes.