The beginning of the summer in the world of endurance sports marks the beginning of Le Tour, or as we know it, The Tour of France. It’s a 21 day race that covers most of France and includes a lot of days where riders are covering over 100 miles a day. I know, it’s crazy right?
What is even more astounding is the amount of calories these guys are going through every day. Stage one winner, Peter Sagan, went through 3,500 calories, and that was considered an easy day. So how do they do it? Well because of their extreme fitness levels, top riders are able to burn a higher ratio of calories from fat. Even someone as lean as 8% body fat could walk from here to Chicago on their fat stores. However, this doesn’t mean they aren’t burning a ton of carbohydrates, the energy source our bodies heavily rely on for intense exercise.
Unlike fat, we can only store a limited amount of carbohydrate in our muscles and liver. In order to keep pace with what the riders are burning, they have to ingest high levels of simple carbohydrates in the form of drinks, gels and solids to get through the day. Afterwards, they would then continue to take in more simple carbohydrates to aid in recovery, and then finally eat a ton of complex carbohydrates to get ready for the next day.
Ok, so what does this mean for us weekend warriors? Well, let’s say you are doing some interval work on the treadmill followed by an intense strength training session, both of which burn a high amount of carbohydrates. To finish this workout as strong as you started, you are most likely going to need some kind of carbohydrate to keep you going. Personally, I use a drink similar to Gatorade. Don’t panic, taking in these extra calories is a good thing. We are able to sustain much higher levels of training, which in turn increase our calorie burn and will also lower your chances of overeating following your workout.
Remember, carbohydrates are our friends. We need them more than we realize. The important thing is to watch for the type, amount and the timing of the carbohydrates you eat.
Get moving. Keep moving.