The Knowledge by Wahoo

Fuel for the Fire - Part 3: Post-ride fueling strategies.

Episode Summary

In this episode, Wahoo sports scientists Neal Henderson and Mac Cassin wrap up this three-part series on fueling strategies. This time they're tackling post-workout nutrition to help you get the most out of your training.

Episode Notes

In this episode, Wahoo sports scientists Neal Henderson and Mac Cassin wrap up their three-part series on fueling strategies. This time they're tackling post-workout nutrition. You'll learn what and when to eat to help consolidate the gains you've made and get you ready to smash your next workout.

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Episode Transcription

Neal Henderson  0:00  

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the knowledge podcast brought to you by Wahoo. I'm Neal Henderson, head of Wahoo sports science coming to you from Boulder, Colorado.


Mac Cassin  0:09  

And I'm Matt Cassin senior sport scientist with Wahoo. Today we're wrapping up our three-part discussion of fueling, focusing on post Ride Recovery. As we've previously mentioned, in our two other episodes, we are not  dieticians. And if you have specific needs or medical conditions, you should always seek the advice of a registered dietician or doctor to help you meet your goals.


Neal Henderson  0:26  

So, today, we're going to be talking about basically the food and drinks that you take in after training to help you speed the recovery from the training. You've done. Mac. This is probably pretty important, right?


Mac Cassin  0:41  

No, I think training is training and recovery is just a myth that doesn't really impact performance.


Neal Henderson  0:47  

Interestingly, I just read a little study today that linked low energy availability and especially carbohydrate availability as being very strongly related to poor performance, both in relationship to overtraining syndrome, as well as Red S.


Mac Cassin  1:06  

Red S, is that some sort of new Gameboy?


Neal Henderson  1:09  

Nope, that is relative energy deficiency syndrome, which can be linked to what has been called in the past the female athlete triad, which which is a low energy intake, as well as problems with bone density reduction in bone density, and also a loss of menstrual cycle is a Maria, Red S also does affect men. No. So we do know that it's not exclusively in the realm and domain of problems with female athletes that this does happen both in men, men, and women. So energy and refueling, our training is really important.


Mac Cassin  1:48  

Yeah, I guess I'll concede that it is quite important. And it's worth noting that specifically for endurance sports, you know, this, this red ass is kind of you to call it an eating disorder, like it, can be classified a lot of times by people with eating disorders or disordered eating. And that's really common in endurance athletes, and it's, it's one of those weird things where it's not really a lot of people considered say that men like can't really get eating disorder disordered eating, but you just hang out some cyclists for long enough, and you'll see a lot of that. So, unfortunately,


Neal Henderson  2:13  

Yes, hopefully, we are turning the corner and there's more knowledge and information out there to help folks understand the value of nutrition and the importance of proper fuelling you know, before, during, and like we're going to talk about right now after to improve our performance and help us all stay healthy and get faster.


Mac Cassin  2:35  

Yeah, so most people have probably heard about this window, 30-minute window after exercise when you should, you should eat. And that's really down to the fact that you know when you're exercising a lot of the transporters in your muscles sort of open up to allow blood glucose to more easily, you know, get into your muscles and be used for fuel. Now, that takes a while to start up when you start exercising. And it also takes a while for those to essentially shut. So you have a window where you've been exercising, you stop exercising, those muscles are still you know, call them open for business, and they're willing to take in, like, yeah, carbohydrates and, and some protein, definitely.


Neal Henderson  3:09  

So that window is something that we find an important aspect to address. And actually, to plan for having some recovery fuel pretty quickly after training, you know, I'd say in an ideal world, if you can get a little something in the first 15 minutes to get started. And then think about having your follow-up additional fuel. Soon thereafter, you're going to be definitely ahead of the game compared to if you just kind of wait around and you know, kind of missed that window.


Mac Cassin  3:40  

I'll one-up you and say in an even more ideal world, you'd actually spend your 15 minutes of cooling down taking an aisle of recovery drinks.


Neal Henderson  3:48  

I can give you a great example of completely failing to use the window. This was many years ago, there were three races in a row. There were street sprints, followed then by a criterium the next day and a road race the day after that and for those who don't know me I'm a little bit more of a sprint type and I've had some track racing experience so the street sprints were pretty much right up my alley. The fun thing about this race is to leave it was on your birthday. Yeah, it was my birthday on the Friday of the streets friends so I was doing like the type of racing that I wanted to do the most was super excited and I had some family there and you know, it was multiple rounds and I won that street sprint in my category and I just had a good time and I didn't eat any dinner I may have had a beer or two while waiting for the results because there was actually a photo finish on the final round three way photo finish which again, you one I did when I was pretty awesome. I got the leader's jersey which was awesome. So I had to wait around to get the jersey. Interestingly, you know, I'm not on a professional team and so nobody was giving me you know the proper food and recovery like you know you wouldn't see at the Tour de France because this is just a little local race here in Colorado. And so I failed to eat until well, more than two hours after I had finished the last race.


Mac Cassin  5:11  

This is a good example of how you and I both fall into the coaching category of doing as we say, not as we do.


Neal Henderson  5:17  

Yep. And the impact was felt the next morning in the Criterium, which I rode out to the race start and I was like, okay, yeah, this is gonna be awesome. I'm in the race, Jersey, race leaders had never had a race leader's jersey before. And at the beginning of the race, I felt great doing fine. And about 10 minutes in the bottom just dropped out, the lack of fuel clearly was a major part of this. And I struggled so badly, I got dropped. I had a teammate, fortunately, thank you, Grant, who basically told me around to prevent me from getting lapped. So I didn't get lapped in the leader's jersey, but I did come across near the end of the group. And I, as you can very well imagine, I definitely lost the leaders jersey that day. And it was failing to take into account refueling after training. So I've learned the hard way. So hopefully, we can give you some ideas of how not to repeat such a devastating failure that I've achieved.


Mac Cassin  6:14  

So yeah, that's a good example of one for that race, you probably couldn't spend the last, you know, 100 meters of it taking in some extra fuel. Because as you said, you were sprinting for the line.


Neal Henderson  6:22  

Yeah, definitely hands on the bars there.


Mac Cassin  6:24  

But when you're training or racing, it is it is a good idea to you know, you can get into the habit of saying oh, I've only got 45 minutes of this training ride left. So I'm just going to stop eating, when in reality, you know, you should be if you plan things appropriately, you should be finishing all your food pretty close to when you're getting done, you shouldn't run out of food. And you also really shouldn't be again, if you've planned correctly, you shouldn't be finishing a ride with lots of food in your pockets.


Neal Henderson  6:45  

Yep. Interestingly, if you actually do run yourself and fully deplete your glycogen stores, do you know that it can take actually two or three days to fully deplete those glycogen stores, even if you're eating a lot, it can't happen just overnight, it's going to take more than a day. So if you're doing any back-to-back days of racing it or heavy training, you never want to get yourself completely bottomed out and depleted because you cannot recover overnight or in a day, it's going to take two to three days to completely recover from that.


Mac Cassin  7:16  

Yeah, as we said, when you're exercising your muscles kind of open up and are primed to take in nutrients. And so if you really bottom out, you're probably not going to be doing an hour spin in the evening to take in fuel more efficiently so it takes longer for all that stuff to work its way back into replenishing yourself. It's also worth noting there used to be a trend and I don't know how many people still do this but that, you know, to carbo-load, you'd first have to completely bonk and then top off the tank. That is absolutely not true. You can carbo-load without emptying the tank first. So please if you're trying to carbo-load, don't do the old empty the tank and refill because that's


Neal Henderson  7:50  

I'm old enough to have lived through that phase and getting ready for the first Ironman race I did. I completely depleted myself on a run seven days before the race and I was completely out of it the last couple miles of the run, I remember running by this house that was being painted. And thinking that paint smells so good, I was weirdly hungry for paint. Fortunately, there wasn't a can available for me to just grab and slug down and I barely made it back. And then I continued to stuff myself for a few days. So I recovered from that but I wouldn't recommend any need the just bumping up your carbohydrate intake for three or four days will give you basically the same benefit as if you completely show yourself because remember, it takes two or three days to get out of that hole. And so yeah, don't show yourself don't go completely zero out on your carbohydrate, please.


Mac Cassin  8:43  

So then when we're talking about these, you know eating right afterward there are two kinds of thoughts that one of the things that are really popular, right is a recovery drink. And so like why would why is that recovery drink maybe a better way to go in some instances


Neal Henderson  8:58  

A couple of reasons Number one, you have to replace some of the fluids You've lost so in most cases you know there's some level of we're trying to maintain our hydration but in most cases, we might be a little bit dehydrated towards the end especially if it's longer days more intense are the conditions are really hot and humid. So number one of recovery drinks helps us with the fluid side of things. And then number two is you can mix things up pretty easily there are things that are created you know powders and you just put water shake them up and you're good to go. So in terms of being able to get in a good amount of carbohydrate with a little bit of protein very quickly, there's just the simple ease of it for those of us you know, if you work you know you have if you did go out at lunch and do a 45-minute training session and basically got a shower so you can you know, work next to people and they don't dislike you for the way you smell. You're gonna have a limited window to get in some food and a lot of cases to get back at your desk and so a recovery shake something like that straight away as a good quick hit and being able to get in 234 100 calories pretty quickly in a good mix, yeah,


Mac Cassin  10:01  

And that hydration port is really important in there, there have been studies that they've shown where a few refuel with the correct amount of carbohydrate, but in inadequate fluid comes in fluid, you don't absorb all that carbohydrate as we talked about each gram of glycogen, which is how your body stores the carbohydrates and your muscles, you know stored with some would say three grams, some would say 2.7 2.8, that's going to be a running theme, you guys hear that a lot, probably that if you don't have that water available to be paired up with that carbohydrate you're not at your body just can't store it. And now you can, your body can pull that from other places like your plasma. But that's not ideal recovery to be essentially dehydrating yourself to try and top up your carbohydrate stores.


Neal Henderson  10:45  

Definitely not beneficial. So just like gastric emptying and everything else that you know, you have to have adequate fluid for what you take in to get utilized for it to be passing through more quickly.


Mac Cassin  10:57  

And like we talked about in the fueling during the session, there's those isotonic hypotonic in terms of what's the ratio of carbohydrates electrolytes protein in the fluids because again, after you eat something, it goes in your test and it's in the form of a fluid, maybe a fixed sludgy fluid, but it's still fluid. And so if you don't have adequate water or fluid there, you know, your intestines will pull water into them so that they can dilute it. So it's more isotonic. So your body can then pull the carbohydrates and protein out to get out the stuff that needs. So you're making your body do a whole extra step of dumping more water in. So it can take the stuff out when you should really just give yourself the fluids while you're eating.


Neal Henderson  11:37  

Yeah, but extra water, they're not a bad thing.


Mac Cassin  11:40  

So when it comes to the ratios, I know we've talked about carbohydrates and protein at this point, what's the recommended ratio there?


Neal Henderson  11:48  

Yeah, so we do know that carbohydrate is king. But there is great evidence that shows if you combine some bit of protein with the carbohydrate, then you have a greater level of glycogen repletion in your muscles. And you also get a little bit more growth hormone released. Well, why does growth hormone release matter? It's because growth hormone is an anabolic hormone that will help the body recover more quickly, specifically, by increasing the rate of protein synthesis. So the ratios there's been a lot of different studies. And I wouldn't say that, you know, either one of these is absolutely better than the other three to one of carbohydrate to protein, or four to one, I tend to go more towards a four to one ratio of carbohydrate to protein if I'm trying that just simply because I still think the carbohydrate is is more important. And in a lot of cases a bigger meal, if you think about how much protein that could be, if you're on a three to one ratio, you might actually be taking in more protein there than your body can tolerate in a single bolus or single amount. So 20 to maybe 30 grams is the absolute upper limit of protein that your body can tolerate at one time. And so if you're on a three to one ratio, then that means you have a limited amount of carbohydrate that you're taking in compared to on a four to one ratio, it's a little bit better.


Mac Cassin  13:11  

Yeah, and we've talked about training your gut to increase how many carbohydrates your body can pull out because of the and that's due to just the transport proteins that your intestines actually has, you can upregulate those with protein, you really can't train your gut to take in more protein, it just gets broken down into its constituent amino acids turns into essentially your body tries to convert it into carbohydrate. So again, just give yourself the carbohydrate save your body of work of turning that extra protein into carbohydrate, and just have more carbs. But yeah, as you said that that 20 to 30 grams of protein is another reason why, you know, you want to break up your post Ride Recovery. It's not just that one recovery drink right after it's not the recovery drink and small meal. You know, depending on how big of a session you had, like a properly good, quote-unquote, post-recovery, meaning is actually several of them spread out over several hours like the rest of the day, essentially,


Neal Henderson  14:03  

Definitely. So that recovery drink is like step one, that's not the be all end all like finishing a workout and having a recovery drink. Good, you've taken the step, first step towards your recovery, you're going to need more fuel, probably a proper meal, or at least a few smaller meals to be properly recovered.


Mac Cassin  14:22  

And like with, you know, on the bike feel, generally speaking, if you're eating right after you're done working out, you want to again aim for those higher glycemic index higher glycemic load foods or so that means generally lower fiber content generally lower fat content because again, you have a closing window of when your body is most able to take in these nutrients and so you should hit it with the stuff that's going to make its way into your bloodstream as fast as possible.


Neal Henderson  14:48  

Yep. So is that why you'll see writers you know get handed a basically a soda pop of some kind, you know, at the finish of a stage you know, that's usually the first thing they get.


Mac Cassin  14:57  

Yeah, one is because it's who doesn't like it. Good and carbonated sugary drink after a hard workout. But yeah, it's like the fastest thing. One of the fast things to go in.


Neal Henderson  15:06  

Yep. So like somebody in a stage race, you know, a sugar first, it might have a bottle of water and the recovery drink, and then you know, an hour or so later than they'll be having a proper meal. Or first of maybe sometimes a couple of proper meals.


Mac Cassin  15:21  

Yeah, another really big popular one is just like, essentially white rice with basically some form of fried rice. But using white rice, which has a super high glycemic index. So it's really easy, simple to digest, has a bit of liquid along with it. And yeah, it's easy to go down and can help. Yeah, help recover.


Neal Henderson  15:38  

I know Mac has done, I've done we've done some workouts in Boulder, usually around the round of the July 4 holiday here in the US, we do a little local thing go 10 Times up a local climb, it's about 2.8 Kilometer climb from bottom to top. So it ends up being a pretty intense workout. And after that, I always


Mac Cassin  15:54  

I would actually just like to interject that we don't just write up it and you know, has very specific interval structures for each one. So it's a bit more than just writing up.


Neal Henderson  16:04  

I was just glossing over it, it's a pretty, very hard day actually, in fact, but because that's a really hard day, I also like to emphasize the importance of recovery. So on that day, I set up some ice baths in the backyard, and then have various foods and drinks so that like, yes, we're gonna go do something really hard. But then we're going to counterbalance it with a really good recovery. And so having different you know, soda-type drinks, but you know, sugary drinks right there straight away. First, the first step, I have smoothies that have makeup, and people can make their own have different, you know, frozen fruit real easy, you can add, you know, any kind of either a protein powder and in some cases, if you're good with dairy type things, then you know, yogurt has a great recovery one, that's just real food. And then I make a fried rice dish, and it just, you know, rice and throw in basically some frozen vegetables, and typically make a tofu version for those who are vegetarian and then have a chicken version. So you have that bit of protein, a few vegetables, get that rice and I also have potato chips or the extra salt. Is there in sweats? It's really hot in July here, when we do that session. And so that's how we think about that, that recovery and fueling and, you know, emphasizing all of those things, getting it in pretty quickly after that training session.


Mac Cassin  17:18  

Yeah, and it doesn't this really good high-quality refueling shouldn't just be after your event or during a race, right, it should be like I was just saying it should be after, you know, when you have a hard training session, you need to recover just as hard as you trained. And the first step to good recovery is this good, good nutritional good feeling afterward. And so what are the considerations would you make when you're talking about, okay, how much should I eat after training?


Neal Henderson  17:41  

A little bit of like, what's coming up next? So where are you in a training phase, you know, have you just finished a major block and you're kind of going to ease into a Recovery Week, you might not need to be quite as intense on that recovery, versus if you're in the middle of a block or some kind of race, especially multi-day race, then you really, really need to focus on that recovery and get as much of that refueling as you can, you know, I've not seen anyone overeat during any kind of stage race or really hard training block, it's always about kind of minimizing that that lack of fueling.


Mac Cassin  18:15  

Yeah, and another thing you want to think about right is how well did you actually feel on your ride? Did you eat enough during your ride because there are two different scenarios there if you do a five-hour ride one is if you are under fuel and you know run out of gas, versus if you fuel properly, you know, your needs after that time when you run out is going to be they're going to be high


Neal Henderson  18:35  

Significantly higher. And really, another big thing is actually having a plan beforehand you know, again, within the context of what you have to do you know, if you're going back to work or if you have you know, a busy day with the family after you know you wake up and do a big hard morning early ride and you're going to be busy through the rest of the day. You really want to make sure you have some food prepared some recovery fuel, they're ready to go otherwise, it'll be an afterthought like me after sprinting to victory and losing epically


Mac Cassin  19:05  

Yeah, the last thing you want to do is come home just completely shattered and not know what you're going to eat and not have the energy to just so I Tupperware is my probably favorite recovery training tool because I can make a meal beforehand, pop it in the microwave and just sit on the couch for 15 minutes and eat


Neal Henderson  19:20  

Ready to go. Exactly. But that took some forethought and pre-planning.


Mac Cassin  19:24  

It took lots of time of getting home and not eating for a couple of hours because I was too tired.


Neal Henderson  19:29  

Yep. Yep, you learn you learn that the hard way Mac. Ouch.


Mac Cassin  19:33  

But I learned it and that's what's important. Thanks for listening to the knowledge by Wahoo we help this episode and the first two episodes on fuelling have taught you a few useful tips for proper fueling to maximize your performance and make you a better athlete.