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Smart Nutritional Choices during DH and Enduro Training

I often sit down with the best intentions to right clear, useful and succinct blog posts about a variety of topics! But often, they sit in the “draft” folder, why? Well mainly because I have more than a few lines of thought on more than a few topics, which often leads me down a rabbit hole of additional research and thinking…and before long I’ve chosen to work with or update programs, gather feedback or catch up with the full time Point1 athletes instead of finishing a blog post!

I suppose there are both positive and negatives in that! But I’ve decided to aim for shorter, more concise blogging for this summer. Useful, less wordy but hopefully just as useful!

Less of this and more blogging........right?
Less of this and more blogging……..right? – Photo: Sean Rowe

So here it goes…the first in what will hopefully be a long line of “snappy” blogs!

Nutrition is without doubt the one area I get the most questions in, from athletes to riders on the trials of Morzine, to guys and girls in coffee shops, or on Facebook, people want nutritional info…but they also want the “secret” to eating success. Well there isn’t any secrets. But there is a stack of bull 4m deep, dogma, over-zealous lunatics, fads, supplement companies more interested in marketing than manufacturing and many other pit-falls.

So while the very first port of call of any rider or athlete is a very consistent, well planned and tasty daily meals and snacks…there are a few key areas of focus for the rider engaging in training.

1. Eating enough quality calories

2. Getting the right Macronutrient balance based off of energy expenditure demands and training goals

3. Having tasty, colourful food with good texture variety

4. Having a good idea what you’ll be eating each meal/snack at least 10hrs in advance! (this is KEY)

5. Hydrating regularly and enough 

6. Eating lots of vegetables, a little fruit, various protein sources and a good amount of fat!

Now while the above is just a short list of some areas to focus on when planning out your approach to “healthful” eating. The average rider often asks about supplements long before they address anything like the above! You’d think that the coach in me would say “sort of the basics” change your behaviours and attitudes to food and then we’ll talk before even entertaining the idea of adding in supplements to a diet and you’d be right…but having said that “supplementing” a good diet is becoming a whole lot more difficult because, luckily for people like me, it seems that smart, simple, relaxed approach to nutrition and diet are becoming very much the “norm”!

Have your nutritional sh*t in a pile before you worry about the supps! - This is a Neil Stewart feed!
Have your nutritional sh*t in a pile before you worry about the supps! – This is a Neil Stewart feed!

With that in mind – there are two key areas where I look to supplement with Gravity athletes who get themselves set up on a Point1 Coaching Partnership.

During and After Training – Why, because the high intensity, intermittent nature of DH and Enduro practice, riding or racing means significant exercise induced muscle damage (EIMD), glycogen depletion, mild dehydration and possible reductions in adaptation too or performance in a given session. So while we look to have some of the above to provide an adaptive stimulus for our bodies after training, we also need consistent application of the minimal worth while load over a long period of time to actually, ya know, get dem GAINZZZ!

So that’s why we look to supplement (not always) with some sort of specially prepared beverage during DH runs, Enduro laps or anything of that nature!

With a pretty solid body of evidence in the research to support the idea, a Carbohydrate – Protein blend beverage consumed at a rate of about 35 -45 g of carbs and 5 to 10g of protein in 500ml to 750ml of water per 2 to 3 runs or over 45min to 1hour seems to work spot on!

So what does it actually work on? 

  • Reductions in acute fatigue that manifest itself as both central (ability of your brain and CNS to control/create /drive movement) and peripheral (ability of metabolic and mechanical systems to power and fuel those movements)
  • Reductions in muscle damage and soreness during and after sessions meaning you can train sooner or to a higher quality in the next session – so that means more quality and/or quantity of good tech or physical ridning.
  • Better quality training during the session, less likely to make mistakes caused by the above fatigue discussed. More likely to execute lines and be able to overload the mechanical and metabolic systems in the exact movement patterns demanded by the sport! Therefore more likely to directly improve your “sport characteristic performance”.
  • Peripheral fatigue will cause reduced impulse, central motor drive and alterations in ideal motor unit (read muscle movement) recruitment patterns that will mean you’ll soon be using less than optimal technique and bleeding even more energy…this is the feeling of “not being able to ride” we all have gotten when riding and not snacking!

So, basically do more, do it better and arguable safer if you supplement a DH, Enduro or similar “intermittent” session with a Carbohydrate – Protein based beverage. Why beverage…well some studies have used gels…but the simplicity of a drink, coupled with the fact that you can easily get your required H2O, electrolytes and other minerals in the one package a drink based CHO -PRO supplement is a no-brainer!

The best and often recommend one to Point1ers is the High 5 4:1 product – it’s tasty, has Whey protein and not soy or some other sub-average protein source, tastes good, comes with the needed electrolytes in there already and not only is the mix in a research backed 4:1 mix of Carbs to Protein, it also is made with a variety of carb sources dubbed “multi-transportable” by Scientist meaning your gonna get a better delivery of energy and less stomach issues than if they used sugar, maltodextrin etc… alone!

High5 4:1
High5 4:1 – natural stuff for the most part

Now you may think I’m pedaling supps here with my marketing cap on! But I have made a variety of “home-brew” versions of a 4:1 intra riding drinks and invariable I come back to using the High5 4:1 as it’s on the money out of the box. Although that’s not to say I’ve not recommended some changes! 😉

However feel free to recommend in the comments the other brands or mixes you have tried if you have tried any!

Likewise questions below are welcomed!

A few Gravity Enduro lap essentials!
A few Gravity Enduro lap essentials!


A full day of timed DH runs needs more than a drink mix, but the 4:1 is still an integral part! As is pen and paper.
A full day of timed DH runs needs more than a drink mix, but the 4:1 is still an integral part! As is pen and paper.

Finally here’s a link to some of the research mentioned in this article – 4:1 mix used in Alpine Skiing a sport with many similarities to ours! – cho 4;1 gel skiing study

And finally part two – more research supporting the above claims for those interested!

Seifert, J.G., Kipp, R.W., Amann, M. and Gazal, O. (2005) Muscle
Damage, Fluid Ingestion, and energy supplementation during
Recreational Alpine Skiing. International Journal of Sport Nutrition
and Exercise Metabolism 15, 528-536.
Saunders, M.J., Luden, N.D. and Herrick, J.E. (2007) Consumption of
an oral carbohydrate-protein gel improves cycling endurance
and prevents postexercise muscle damage. Journal of Strength
and Conditioning Research 21, 678-684.
Ivy, J.L., Res, P.T., Sprague, R.C. and Widzer, M.O. (2003) Effect of a
carbohydrate-protein supplement on endurance performance
during exercise of varying intensity. International Journal of
Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism 13, 382-395.
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