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Fuel for Endurance

by Kelly Shires

Gu packs are popular among runners and cyclist. Motocross athletes can utilize them as well at the track or in the gym.

Not Taking in Enough Calories During Training
If you want to be strong in your race, you must have consumed sufficient calories throughout the day. Calorie intake in the range of 200-350 an hour is necessary to prevent energy levels from dropping. Taking in too many calories during competition can present a real problem. It's the belief that if a little is good, a lot must be better that can create this problem. The body can only process a given amount of calories an hour and to force additional food down, in the hopes of filling the reserve tank, will usually backfire.

Training on Too Few Calories
Don't skimp on calories during training! To insure that you're feeding your body enough calories, keep a daily log on what you eat. Most athletes can consume between 4500 and 7000 calories a day without gaining weight. Everyone has a different body makeup, and you will have to make these adjustments on your own. If you are feeling tired and sluggish, it could be that your over training or that you are taking in too many calories. You can also experience a sluggishness and weight gain if you are over consuming.

Eating too Much Solid Food During Exercise, Practice or Race Day
A small amount of solid food intake is certainly OK, and welcome during endurance exercise, practice or race day, but for a better absorption of necessary nutrients with less chance of stomach distress, a liquid energy source is preferred, like gel Gu packs. Save the solid foods when the body is at rest or during recuperation.

Consuming too Much Simple Sugar
Eating excess sugar loads the body with excessive calories that will cause the body to make fat from its own insulin. The athlete's concerns also have to do with this quick insulin "spike" or high that you also experience with caffeine. Most everyone has experienced this quick burst of energy followed by a crash then fatigue, lethargy, and mood swings, and what we call bonking! Carbohydrates are typically the main fuel sources that contain no simple sugars and will provide the calories during exercise without causing stomach problems. The answer is to use complex carbohydrates instead of simple or refined sugars in your diet to fuel you during exercise, practice, or race day. Foods such as bagels, sandwiches, and pretzels are all better fuel options than candy bars and other sugar filled energy bars and energy drinks.

Consuming too Much Protein During Exercise
During endurance exercise, approximately 25% of the calories required should come from protein, with the remaining 75% from complex carbohydrates. The human body, while perhaps being able to handle 20-30 grams of protein in one intake, cannot tolerate that on an hourly basis. Too much protein fills the blood with too many amino acids. These excess amino acids are converted into carbon dioxide, water, and ammonia. It is this ammonia which is toxic to the body and is a primary cause of premature fatigue. While the body is equipped to handle excess ammonia by converting it to urea then filtering it through the kidneys, too much puts a burden on the kidneys. Soy protein produces less ammonia and should be used during training, and Whey protein (CytoSport has you covered there as well) during the recovery phase.

Not Consuming Any Protein During Exercise
The body will cannibalize protein from the muscle tissue if you do not consume enough for the day. This negative process destroys lean muscle tissue and decreases fat burning capabilities. To prevent this from happening the racer should keep a consistent intake of carbohydrates, and make sure that some Soy protein is consumed during endurance exercise. Typically a 75/25 split. Try to provide a proper balance of complex carbohydrates and protein, making it the perfect choice for fueling any 2 hour plus endurance activity.

Not Consuming Enough Calories and Nutrients After Exercise
After a hard workout, practice, or race your body is most receptive to replenishing nutrients because it goes into high gear to recover from and adapt to the stress it has just experienced. Consistently consuming 75 grams of carbohydrates and 25 grams of protein within 30-60 minutes of completing a workout, practice, or a race will replenish what has been used up during exercise and reduce recovery time. Plan your workouts so that you can consume a complete meal within the 60 minutes after this window of opportunity. If you cannot consume a full meal, then have a meal replacement mixture of 3 servings of carbohydrates and one serving protein in 12 ounces of water. A product like Cytomax Recovery takes all the guess work out and is perfectly formulated for post workout recovery with 20 grams of carbs and 26 grams of protein in two scoops. Coupled with a healthy post workout meal, consuming the total recommended amount of carbs is no problem.

Not Taking Supplements
Most vital minerals and electrolytes get depleted through bodily fluids and perspiration. The signs are muscle weakness, nausea, and cramping. A balanced blend of calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium (in the form of sodium chloride), and manganese provides protection for the athlete training and competing in hot weather. And once again, Cytomax Sport drink takes away the guess work by optimally fueling your body, acting to prevent acid build-up, and supplies the electrolytes and the hydration you need to perform at your best and finish strong.

Over Hydrating
When you DNF due to cramping, you start blaming this on you didn't drink enough fluids. You drink so much water and fluids that, while your thirst is quenched, your belly is as full as a Buda statue, but you're still experiencing muscle cramping. Over hydrating can have reverse effects and cause muscle cramping. Your body can not assimilate/absorb more than 24 ounces of fluids per hour.

Sleep: Most Important to Recovery
Many athletes who train themselves into the ground try and fight fatigue with more training. This only digs a deeper hole for the athlete who needs to recognize the symptoms of over training, and spend enough time recovering completely. The most common symptoms are irritability, restless sleep, elevated resting heart rate, and inability to reach peak heart rates during training. As a Motocross athlete, make sure that time spent recovering is taken as seriously as the time spent training. 7-10 hours of sleep is recommended for full recovery.

Success in racing requires expertise in many areas, and it is up to you to fuel your body to stay ahead of the competition.

About the Author: Kelly Shires, of, has been in the training business for over 20 years. Kelly specializes in extreme fitness training in sports like swimming, biking, running, and weight lifting, and has developed programs for motocross, supercross, arenacross, and road racing for the motorcycle athlete. He has even written a book, aptly named, Full Throttle Fitness, and is basically an encyclopedia on training for Motocross.

That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness. VT Signature

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