Common Myths and Fallacies

“Truth is the most valuable thing we have.” Mark Twain

1. Food eaten after 8pm will turn to fat. 

  • No, not necessarily. If you have eaten more calories than what you burned that day it will turn into fat.  If you burned more calories than you ate it will not turn into fat.

2. If I lift heavy weights I will become a bulky muscle-head (from a woman’s standpoint).

  • No. Females do not have enough of the male androgen testosterone, which is the key hormone responsible for increased muscle mass.  Massive hypertrophy in females is physiologically impossible without injecting anabolic hormones into the body. Weight training for women is especially beneficial to their health and fitness. I will have a more detailed post on this later.

3.  Muscle turns to fat, fat turns to muscle.

  • No, this is biologically impossible. Muscle and fat are two completely different types of tissue.  Fat cells shrink gradually through diet and exercise. Muscle mass increases after 6 – 10 weeks of high volume resistance training.

4. You don’t need to do strengthening exercises for your legs if you jog.

  • No, resistance training for your legs helps improve not only strength, but also power, balance, coordination, and injury prevention.

5. Doing 1 hour of cardio every day is the best way to burn fat.

  •   No, several problems with this one:
  • 1. Not everyone can exercise for 1 hour straight, you have to progress slowly at your own pace.
  • 2. It goes back to energy intake and energy expenditure. If you eat 100-200 calories less per day and burn a few 100 calories more per day you will lose fat gradually over several weeks.
  • 3. To ensure exercise adherence and maintain your motivation, it is a good idea to vary your exercise intensity and duration daily.  For every hard day make sure you have an easy day.

6. You need to eat lots of protein to build muscle.

  • It is true you need protein to repair muscle tissue after you have exercised, but you also need protein for ALL cellular maintainence, not just muscle.
  • There are many factors that affect your ability to build muscle: your sex, your genetic makeup, the type of exercise program, hormone levels, amount of rest/recovery, and a well-rounded nutrition plan from all major food groups.
  • Eating a high protein diet usually results in avoiding carbohydrates and this is not good for optimal health.  A low carb diet is very taxing on your body and causes a condition called “ketosis”.  Ketosis is the incomplete metabolism of fat and protein because you don’t have enough of your body’s preferred fuel, carbohydrates.  Ketosis results from an accumulation of ketone bodies in the blood and without carbohydrates this leads to toxic levels.  Ketosis causes severe dehydration which then puts severe strain on your kidneys leading to kidney stones, constipation, gout, and eventually organ failure and death.  You must eat a minimum of 100 grams of carbs a day to avoid ketosis.
  • Americans eat too much animal protein…and we are a fat society.  Eating lots of animal products also increases the amount saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet as well, which is linked to obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and heart disease.

7. In order to see results, you must push yourself to your limit during every workout.

  • NO, an acute bout of exercise (weights or cardio) breaks your body down. Actually you have microscopically injured your tissues, and brought-on intense stress to your muscular, cardiovascular, and neurological systems.  Only during rest is when the adaptations to your training occur.  If you “killed” yourself every workout you are guaranteed injury to say the least.  Appropriately spaced rest days and even rest weeks in your training program is the best way to achieve optimal fitness and performance. Also developing an intelligent periodization program avoids overtraining and injury as well.

8. Cycling or the stair-master will make my butt look bigger.

  • No, actually it will make it look smaller and definitely firmer.

9. Carbohydrates will make you fat.

  • Again, too much of anything will make you fat. Carbs are the essential fuel source for your body.  Carbs are actually the ONLY fuel your brain uses!  Two other nice things carbs do is transport water and you need them to BURN FAT!  To avoid ketosis (mentioned earlier) you must eat a minimum of 100 grams of carbs/day, if you are exercising a lot then this number should be higher.

10. Excessive sweating during exercise means you’re not in shape.

  • Actually, sweating is a healthy physiological response to exercise.  If you’re not sweating you are experiencing heat stroke, which is a life-threatening condition.
  • The fitter you are the more easily you sweat, because you are more efficient at cooling your core temperature, because you have more blood volume than a sedentary person.

11. If you exercise you can eat anything you want.

  • Optimal recovery from exercise requires whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats all from fresh whole food sources.

12. If you do a lot of isolated muscle exercises (“toning”) you can reduce fat in those areas. Meaning sit-ups, triceps, butt blasters…

  • No, performing “toning” exercises with a tremendous number of repetitions DOES NOT REMOVE FAT FROM A TARGET AREA.
  • If you are reducing caloric intake by a few hundred per day and increasing caloric expenditure through cardiovascular exercise you will lose fat EVERYWHERE…and this happens gradually over time with consistent, diligent lifestyle behavior.
  • The last place that fat was deposited is the first place it will be removed when you lose weight.

13. I don’t need a trainer, I already know how to workout. 

  • A trainer can help design an intelligent, sensible, and individualized exercise program.  This will allow you to reach your goals faster!
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Periodized Strength Training for Mountain Bikers

Example Resistance Training Program for a Cross Country

Mountain Bike Racer (XCO)

Strength and power training are an important addition to the overall training program for mountain bikers. Improvements in strength, explosive power, and lean body mass have been shown to improve the force that can be applied to the pedals which results in greater power during climbing and sprinting.  An increase in upper body strength can also improve bike handling skills, which is crucial to mountain biking.  In addition, improved muscle balance between agonist/antagonists as well as stability in muscles of the trunk and shoulder may help reduce injuries from crashes, or may even help prevent crashes (Willis et al. 1999). Although strength training is beneficial it should not take away from the cyclist’s primary discipline of riding his/her bike.

Preparation Phase: 4 to 6 weeks

A competitive XCO racer’s strength and power training program should be performed as part of the athlete’s pre-season.  Assuming the athlete has a basic foundation in resistance training (weight training at least 2 days a week for the last 6wks), the first mesocycle (4 weeks) can focus on building strength at a frequency of 2 or 3 times a week.  If the athlete doesn’t have a foundation in resistance training a period of 4-6 weeks should be spent to improve muscular endurance and hypertrophy before beginning a strength/power program.  Muscular endurance and hypertrophy training must be of low intensity and high volume: 3 – 6 sets of 10 – 20 repetitions. Exercise selection should emphasize all muscle groups of the hip/knee/ankle, back, chest, shoulder/elbow, abdomen/low back.  Muscle imbalances or soft tissue injuries must be identified and corrected at this time.

Basic Strength Phase: 4 weeks.

Strength training two days a week is sufficient for improving maximal strength for most cyclists (and endurance athlete’s in general), because the majority of time and training priority must be on developing specific aerobic fitness (developing a higher LT and VO2max).  In addition it’s imperative that the athlete has 48-72 hours of recovery between strength sessions to avoid overtraining symptoms and decrease in performance on the bike.

Varying the weight training loads weekly will also help prevent overtraining since the athlete is also performing cycling workouts ~5 days a week.

Training volume should be progressed weekly for ~4 weeks followed by an unloading week where volume is significantly decreased.  An unloading week must occur in order for neuromuscular adaptations fully develop and to safely transition the athlete into the very high intensity power phase.

Load Assignments for Core Exercises

Medium Day

85% of 1-RM (6 reps allowed)

Heavy Day

90% 1-RM (4 reps allowed)

Assistance Exercises 80% 1-RM for both days

Volume Progression 

Week Sets Repetition
1 3 4-6
2 4 4-6
3 5 4-6
4 6 4-6
Unloading 2 4-6
Assistance 2 8-10

Power Phase: 4 weeks

The power phase will span a 4 week mesocycle at a frequency of 2 days; for example Monday is a heavy day and Thursday is a medium day.  Plyometric exercises will be introduced at a low volume the first week and progress in volume to the 4th week. As intensity and volume increase only the athlete’s core exercises (“core exercise” means the most important and specific exercises to the athlete’s sport) are to be performed, so not to risk overtraining (i.e. power clean, BO row, step up).  Another unloading week will occur to transition the athlete into the competitive season.  Frequency will decrease to 1 day per week during the competitive season and will only address the most specific core and power exercises.

Strength/Power (first 2 weeks)

Exercise Sets Repetitions
Power Clean 2 – 3 4
Rows 4 6
Step up (explosive) (75% 1-RM) 2 – 3 4
Front Squat 4 6
Single-Leg Push Off 2 – 3 10
Rest interval between all sets 2 – 3 min
Assistance Exercises 2 8 – 10
Rest 30-60 seconds

Power Only (last 2 weeks)

Exercise Sets Repetitions
Power Clean 4 5
Step up (explosive) 75% 1-RM 4 5
Single-Leg Push Off 2   10
Alternate Push Off 2 10
Rest interval between all sets 2 – 3 min

Week 5: Transition to Competitive Season (1 day/week)

Exercise Sets Repetitions
Power Clean 2 5
Step Up (explosive) 2 5
Rows 2 6
Alternate Leg Push Off 2 10
Rest interval between all sets 2 – 3 min

Exercise Selection

Note: these are only a few examples and will depend on individual injury history, performance goals and needs.

Exercise selection for a XCO racer must address both the lower and upper body prime movers involved in mountain biking.  Core lower body exercises must address the prime movers used in pedaling (quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus). Core upper body exercises must address pulling movements (trapezius, rhomboids, latissumus dorsi, biceps brachi), since the athlete must be able to pull up on the bike during climbing or clearing an obstacle.  Stabilization of the trunk and shoulder is also important while descending.

Core exercises.

  • Front Squat: develops strength to improve force delivery to pedals.  Front squat position increases recruitment of the spinal stabilizers.
  • Step up on <13” box– improves force delivery to the pedals.  The unilateral nature of the step-up more closely mimics the downphase of the pedal stroke. The athlete will perform this exercise at a higher load (85%) during strength phase and explosively with a lower load (75%) during the power phase.
  • 45 ° Bent over row* – mimics pulling movement of the handlebars, while also isometric strengthening of the erectors. *Note: Do not test 1-RM in BO Row, this puts way too much stress on lumbar vertebrae, stick to submaximal efforts on this one*
  • Pullup – develops strength in the lats, biceps, trunk muscles responsible for lifting the bike.

Structural and Power exercises.

  • Power clean/Hang Clean – improves power in the hips for pedaling and transferring power up to the shoulder mimicking the ability to lift the front wheel when clearing obstacles. The hang clean (from the knee) will be introduced as an assisting exercise to the power clean towards the end of the basic strength phase in order to transition the athlete to a traditional power clean (from the floor) during the power phase.
  • Explosive step-ups – unilateral movements better mimic pressing and pulling on the pedals during the pedal stroke.  Performing this explosively will improve maximal force production.  Box height for both step ups and plyometrics should be limited to <13”.  Box height should be specific to the distance the leg travels when pushing down on the crank arm, also to avoid over-stressing the knee/hip.
  • Single leg and alternate leg push-off box – plyometric exercises will be introduced in the strength/power phase to mimic explosive power in the pedal stroke.  Box height will still be limited to <13” for sport specificity and safety concerns.

Assistance exercises.

  • Loaded Pushup or Bench Press – Generally not an assistance exercise because it is multi-jointed. This exercise is not specific to mountain biking, but is included in this program to prevent muscle imbalance from too many pulling motions. Since the athlete discussed in this case study has a high level of muscular endurance in her ability to perform pushups in 1-min an appropriate strength training stimulus for continued gains would be to weight her pushups. Moreover, the pushup causes greater activation of spinal/hip stabilizers of the lumbo-pelvic region than the traditional bench press.
  • SL Romainian DL – Prevent hamstring injury from quad/ham imbalances that could potential develop from the selection of core exercises (squats, step-ups).  The unilateral nature of the SL DL also trains balance and proprioception, though its transfer to sport specific skill may be questionable.
  • Back extension – to prevent weakness in erector spinae and maintain upright posture for balance on the bike.
  • Glute/Hamstring Raise – similar rational to the SL DL, this exercise develops hamstring/gluteal/erector group. Higher repetition range may be necessary to stimulate a training response (15-20 rep).
  • Front and Oblique plank – to improve muscular endurance through isometric contraction of the transverse abdominus (TVA), internal oblique (IO), ilio psoas, multifidus. These deep muscles are responsible for maintaining upright posture through spinal stability and transfer of energy up and down the kinetic chain.


Willis, CM., Jones, MT. (1999). Implementing resistance training into the macrocycle of a competitive mountain biker. Strength and Conditioning Journal; 21(6):33-39.

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What’s In Your Head? Mental Lessons from Mountain Bike Racing

What’s In Your Head?

Mental Lessons from Mountain Bike Racing

Last July, one of my ‘A’ races of the 2011 season was the USA Cycling National Championships for cross-country mountain bike held at Sun Valley, Idaho. The course was more challenging than most with one of the steepest and longest climbs I have ever encountered.  Originally I was looking forward to this course because it had a substantial climb, and I tend to do well on courses with lots of climbing because of my small lightweight stature.  However, during the pre-ride (practice ride around the course) the day before the race I actually had to dismount and walk four or five times because I was maxed-out within the first few minutes! Not a good sign considering the next day I was going to be racing five laps up and down this mountain.  Once I finally got to the top in a hypoxic state I felt so discouraged and deflated that I couldn’t keep focus on the tight twisty descent through the trees. My foot caught a root and gravity took over, I went sailing over the handlebars and rolled down a scree field a good 30 feet.  The crash resulted in some bad scrapes, ripped lycra, and a devastated ego.

You can imagine my pre-ride experience evoked various undesirable emotions before my biggest race of the year such as anxiety, fear, uncertainty, and self-consciousness that I’m in over my head.  I thought to myself, ‘not only am I competing against some of the fastest women in the country, but I can’t believe this course forced me off my bike during the “slow…take it easy” pre-ride!’ Times like these I struggle to find the confidence for which there is no reason I shouldn’t have. I made an emergency phone call to my support crew: my coach and my sports psychologist, who’s been helping “train my brain” since I made the big jump to the pro field.   Both advised me to first calm down, and there was no reason to doubt myself.  My coach made it clear that my training data speaks for itself, and that I’m prepared beyond a doubt.  My sports psych told me to ride within myself, and to not let a bad pre-ride sabotage my mental state and discount the months of hard work.  This day’s experience would not hold any weight in predicting tomorrow’s outcome.  Although the support from both people is indispensable to me, the choice to turn my thinking around ultimately rests within me.

 Believe in your abilities and preparation

I lost focus because I lost belief in myself and lost sight of the truth of who I really am as an athlete.   I went back to the condo and took a look back at my training logs from the beginning, January 1, 2010, and had the evidence right there in front of me.  Since I began a new training program in 2010 until now July 2011 I could see nothing but a steady growth of improvement in power and performance. It was clear I was more ready for this race then at any other period in my life. No further training would make me any better in that moment.  Tomorrow’s performance would be the best that I could have at this point, and it would be against the top women on a world-class course.  This challenge was required of me as part of the process to see how far I can go in my sport.

Letting go of unnecessary tension

The training files didn’t lie, I had a quality race with a respectable outcome. I had my best finish so far at a national event.  But judging myself in terms of the superficial placement good or bad is not my objective.  The National Championships was a successful race for me because I stayed centered in myself.  Each lap I climbed well, despite being in agonizing pain and wanting to give up, but I kept turning the pedals.  I objectively focused on my pain and I asked myself, ‘where am I wasting energy?’  I was holding onto tension in my face, my shoulders, my hands, and my negative thoughts.  This tension was not helping me go forward, I had to disengage from this pain. Somewhere I’ve read performance means the ‘perfection of form’, so I turned all thoughts to my pedal stroke, each stroke fluid, strong, efficient.  Likewise on the descent I kept all thoughts on form.  When I descend I like to visualize water, because its smooth, fluid, and effortless.  Water flows through the path of least resistance and this is always the fastest way down the mountain. 

Lesson of Uncertainty

Afterwards when I had time to reflect I realized my biggest fear in racing is that of uncertainty. No matter how well I prepare for my races there is always uncertainty and the chance of things not working out.  Racing teaches me how to accept uncertainty.  I cannot foresee or control the terrain, crashes, the competitors, mechanical breakdowns, but in the end I compete and train for mountain biking because I’m curious about the unknown possibilities.

I do not know what the end result is for me as a professional cyclist. If I knew ahead of time exactly how each race would play out or how my life would progress I probably wouldn’t bother training or racing or getting up in the morning.  Without uncertainty my life would be stagnant and would prevent me from grasping for the things I want and what I want to become. I strive for great results and continuous improvement, but what I really love is the process and the sport.  I love the satisfaction of completing each training session and how mountain biking allows me to experience our natural world.

“The road to the top isn’t always a straight, smooth trajectory.  The road to the top goes down at times mistakes happen, and I feel terrible like nothing is working.  But because I have passion and love for what I am doing I go back and try it again.” – Gerry Lynch


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Metabolic Pathways & Energy Requirements

Energy Requirements & Metabolism

FOOD = FUEL:  The macronutrients our bodies require for optimal health is carbohydrate (CHO), fat, protein. It is important that we consume the right proportions of each macronutrient in order to get the energy that sustains our body.  When we eliminate one of the macronutrients for fear it will make us fat we ultimately diminish the efficiency of one or several of our organ systems. The truth is, too much of ANYTHING and not enough exercise will make you gain weight.

  • If calories consumed is greater than what you expend you will gain weight.
  • If calories consumed is less than what you expend you will lose weight.

How Is The Food We Eat Transferred to Energy?

Energy Pathways: This is how our body transforms the calories (fuel) we eat into energy.  There are three pathways the body transfers food into energy (ATP). Two of these pathways do not rely on oxygen (O2) and so we call these “anaerobic” the last pathway does rely on O2 and so we call this aerobic or oxidative pathway.

1. FASTEST ENERGY: ATP/Creatine Phosphate cycle (ATP/CP)

This anaerobic pathway only lasts 3 to 15 seconds of very intense work. The ATP/CP pathway is dominant during VERY heavy strength training and explosive power exercises. For example: A 100m sprint or as in weight training, 5 reps at 85% 1RM would tax this system.   You use up all your ATP/CP in 15 seconds and it takes 3 min for the body to regenerate that ATP/CP before you’re ready to go again.  This is why your muscles NEED to rest for 3 min between sets when you are performing strength or explosive power exercises in order to give your best effort.

2. FAST ENERGY: Anaerobic Glycolysis (glyco = sugar and lysis = breakdown –> so glycolysis means sugar breakdown)

This is the other anaerobic pathway and it ranges from the end of the ATP/CP (~15 sec) to about 3minutes of very hard work.  Anaerobic glycolysis relies on carbohydrate as fuel.  The term for carbohydrate stored in the muscle cells and liver is called glycogen.  We also have carbohydrate floating in the blood stream and this is called glucose.  Performing very hard work such as 1-min “all-out” efforts on the treadmill or any resistance exercise of 8+ repetitions is using this pathway.  You probably feel your muscles aching or “burning” then you know you are in this pathway. The reason why you feel the muscle “burn” is because a by-product of metabolizing glycogen is something called lactate + hydrogen ions.  The Lactate + hydrogen ions are accumulating faster then they can be cleared by the blood and so whenever hydrogen ions accumulate we get an acid LACTIC ACID.  This is what people like to call “lactic acid“, but it is important to realize that “lactic acid” is 2 separate components: LACTATE + Hydrogen ions.  It is the H+ ions that lead to the pain associated with muscle fatigue. The lactate isn’t a big deal, we actually circulate lactate through the blood and transfer it to other working muscles to use it for more fuel!

3. SLOW SUSTAINED ENERGY: Aerobic (Oxidative) Pathway

Begins at about 3 minutes to hours and hours of physical activity!  The oxidative pathway metabolizes all three fuel sources: glycogen/glucose, fat, protein. The CHO and FAT come from the muscle, liver, blood, and fat cells to bring a constant supply of energy to the working muscles.  After 2 hours of continuous exercise you have depleted most of your glycogen stores, and results in the “bonk” feeling. This is why endurance athletes must drink sports drinks and eat gels/bars while training to prevent glycogen levels from dropping.  The more intensely you exercise the faster you deplete.

a.    While at rest the body uses this pathway as well, and the contribution of the fuel used is mostly from FAT and some glycogen and very little from protein.

b.    The easier and longer the exercise session the greater the contribution of fat.  This is because you are able to bring in enough oxygen to break down (oxidize) a fat molecule (triglyceride).  Triglycerides are very large carbon chain molecules and so they require a lot of available oxygen to break these bonds.

c.    As exercise intensity increases –> heart rate increases –> breathing increases = greater oxygen demand!  This causes a transfer of fuel from FAT dominant to CHO dominant because a carbohydrate is a smaller molecule and easier to break down when oxygen demands increase.

Each energy pathway can be separated into distinct time periods, but in reality during a typical exercise session you are actually using all three pathways.  Lets say you are in a Spinning class: When you initially begin the first few pedal strokes come from ATP/CP then after a few seconds your body realizes the intensity isn’t that much, it doesn’t waste all the stored creatine phosphate, so it kicks into anaerobic glycolysis for the next 3 minutes because it takes that long for the aerobic system to get going. You may actually feel some muscle fatigue sensation during the initial few minutes because you are in anaerobic glycolysis and waiting for your aerobic engine it get going (BTW this period is called oxygen deficit). After several minutes at a slow pace the body has enough oxygen available to start breaking down a mixture of carbs and fat.  Now lets say the instructor tells you to increase your resistance so you’re climbing a hill, so for 30-60s you have to push hard to get up the hill. During that minute you are supplementing with anaerobic glycolysis, but when you recover on the top of the hill you switch back to the oxidative pathway. Lets say now you are doing “jumps” in and out of the saddle, every time you jump you are using the ATP/CP system, because you need more energy as fast as possible to generate enough force to pick your body up out of the saddle.  The oxidative system can’t give you that energy fast enough.  As the minutes go by you are steadily depleting your glycogen stores, as glycogen becomes less available you take your fuel from more FAT and PROTEIN. As a result of relying on less efficient fuel sources you have to slow down your pace to meet the oxygen demand.  Depending on your pre-exercise glycogen levels will dictate how long you can go before you “hit the wall” or “bonk”. The more topped off your glycogen the further you can go. On average this is about 90 minutes to 2 hours.  A typical Spinning class is 45-60min, so it is unlikely you ever “bonk” in spin unless you took it without eating anything for several hours prior to the class.

Conversion of energy sources over time: Chronic aerobic training.

Chronic aerobic training does not alter the total amount of energy expended but rather the proportion of energy derived from carbohydrate (CHO) and fat.  One result of training is the energy derived from fat increases and the energy derived from CHO decreases.  If two ladies, one is regularly active and the other sedentary, are running on a treadmill at the same speed of 6.0mph, the active woman is not working as hard as the sedentary woman, because her oxygen demand is lower therefore the contribution of fat to total energy expenditure is greater than the sedentary person who’s oxygen demand is much higher and is burning through all of her glycogen stores.

Active Individual Nutritional Needs
NOTE: these recommendations are based on general guidelines from the most recent position stand from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Dietetic Association regarding nutrition and athletic performance.  These values are indictated for an individual who averages 3-4 days/week of cardiovascular and 2-3 days/week of resistance exercise.  Daily requirements fluctuate depending on the specific activity level, age, and gender of the individual.  For personalized nutritional information please seek expert advice from a Registered Dietition.

Carbohydrate (CHO): 4.0 – 7.0g/kg Divide your weight in lbs by 2.2 to get kg Example: 130lbs/2.2 = 59kg. 59kg x 6.0 = 354g of CHO/day

  • Carbohydrate is the preferred fuel, and the body uses this energy source first and foremost.  The average person and strength athletes need only about 4 – 5g/kg per day  An endurance athlete in heavy training or competition may need up to 7g/kg per day, but for most average training loads (8-10 hours/wk) then 5-6 g/kg may be all that is needed.  During the off-season carbohydrate needs should drop to normal levels of 4-5g/kg to prevent weight gain.

Protein: 0.8 – 2.2 g/kg (a strength athlete would need closer to 2g/kg whereas an endurance athlete needs slightly less 1.2 to 1.5g/kg per day. A sedentary person only needs 0.8g/kg per day)

  • High quality source with all essential amino acids is best, such as lean animal sources. Pre and post heavy strength sessions you need fast absorbing protein supplement such as whey protein isolate that includes the branch-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, valine). A whey protein drink is required for an athlete within 60min of training in order to maintain a positive nitrogen balance to facilitate synthesis of lean tissue.   For endurance athlete protein requirements are not as high as carbohydrate requirements.  So after an endurance session, carbs should be emphasized however protein is also essential to off-set the catabolic effects of long distance training.

Fat: 20% – 35% total energy intake.

  • Consuming <20% does not benefit body functions or exercise performance.  Fat is a source of energy, fat-soluble vitamins (A, E, D, K), and essential fatty acids are important.


  • Dehydration in excess of 2-3% body mass decreases exercise performance.  Adequate fluid intake before, during, and after exercise is important for optimal health.  After exercise drink 16-24 oz for every pound of body weight lost from dehydration.

Pre-exercise snack

  • Should be relatively low in fat and fiber to facilitate gastric emptying and minimize GI distress, be high in CHO for maintenance of blood glucose, be moderate in protein, and should be familiar and taste good to the individual.

During exercise

  • Primary goals for nutrient consumption are to replace fluid losses and provide CHO for maintenance of glucose levels.  This is especially important for endurance events lasting longer than 1hour or when in an extreme environment (heat, cold, high altitude).

After Exercise Nutrition (within 60min! Timing is EVERYTHING) 

Endurance Trained Athlete:

  • Dietary goals are to provide adequate fluids, electrolytes, CHO to replace glycogen, water, and ensure rapid recovery.  A CHO intake of 1.0g/kg body weight during the first 30min and again every 2 hours for 4-6 hours will replace glycogen stores.  Protein consumed after exercise will provide amino acids for repair of muscle tissue.

Strength Trained Athlete

  • Whey + Casein combo protein supplement with a little carbohydrate may be the best combination for post strength training recovery nutrition.  Protein amount should be between 10-20grams in one sitting and then again 2 hours later.  Research is showing that frequent feedings of smaller protein doses is better than one massive feeding because your digestive and renal system can only handle so much at one time.  


  • No vitamin and mineral supplements are required if the individual is consuming adequate energy from a variety of foods to maintain body weight.  A multivitamin may be appropriate if the individual is dieting, or habitually eliminating foods or food groups, is ill or recovering from injury, or has a single micronutrient deficiency.


  • May be at risk for low intakes of energy, protein, fat, and key micronutrients such as iron, calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, zinc, and vitamin B12.


ACSM, AHA, ADC Joint Position Statement. Nutrition and Athletic Performance 2009

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