Fuelling for your favourite sport doesn’t begin on the start line, or finish once you have a shiny medal round your neck.
Thinking about what you eat before, during and after you race, while you train, and in those non-lycra-clad hours, is key.
Good fuelling with real, nutritious food at all times not only ensures you have the energy to perform at your best when you need to, but it can turbo charge your recovery and help you feel better in your everyday life too.
Most amateur athletes understand the importance of nutrition, and many of us aim to eat well 80 per cent of the time (hey, we’re not perfect). We try to ensure we get a good balance of macronutrients – healthy carbohydrates for energy, protein to help build and repair muscle, and good fats for energy and cell growth. As well as plenty of fresh fruit and veg for all those essential vitamins and micronutrients.
So, if we spend most of our time trying to eat well, choosing lean meats and leafy green veg over bacon butties, sugary snacks and ‘empty’ calories, why – when it comes to racing and training – would we consume sports nutrition containing any number of artificial ingredients that we can’t name?
Probably because, until recently, there just wasn’t a viable alternative.
Which is why at Veloforte we’ve spent years in the kitchen, testing recipes, measuring ingredients and pouring over the latest research to come up with a whole new range of products that provide a 100% natural and holistic approach to performance nutrition, backed by science.
Alongside our award-winning Veloforte energy bars, we now have a range of hydration drinks and energy nectars – our natural take on energy gels. And they’re all exactly what we think you need in your sports nutrition – exceptional quality products that are 100% natural, powerful & delicious. Those three words drive everything we do. In fact, unless a recipe is able to deliver each of them in equal measure, then we believe it’s not good enough.
Natural... not only offers us the finest quality ingredients, but it means they come in forms that our bodies instinctively know how to digest (we evolved alongside them after all) and it means we can trace their origins, keep things simple and offer you the best alternative to synthetic, modified or processed products. All our ingredients are entirely Natural.
Powerful... is all about being fit for purpose and fit for body. Whether that’s about helping you absorb energy quickly, sustaining your efforts over time or hydrating you as efficiently as possible, we believe that the finest sports nutrition must be able to deliver the nutrients you need, when you need them. From carbs to protein to minerals, all our products provide the optimal amounts of nutrients in their class.
Delicious... is about so much more than just taste. If something is utterly delicious it provides us with morale boosts, confidence in the ingredients, greater digestive performance and crucially it means it’s something we actually want to eat… a critical requirement when you’re pushing your body to it’s limits.
We believe that consuming sports nutrition should be something you actively look forward to, but so often we hear how much people dislike synthetic gels, powdery bars or acidic fizzy drinks - that these are more of a chore to consume than anything else… this can’t be the best way to fuel your passion and evolve your performance, yet it’s how the majority of sports nutrition products have been described.
Our products are the only sports nutrition to have ever been awarded multiple Gold at the Great Taste Awards (the Oscar’s of food) - and we’ve achieved this for 5 consecutive years.
Nature knows how to fuel us, we’ve just taken that and made it practical to take on your adventures... into Bars, liquid Nectars & Hydration mixes. This trinity of products offer a system of nutrition that you can combine to enjoy the finest fuel and performance of your life.
Here's how to use them for every type of training and challenge...
Sports nutrition in the days leading up to a race
You may have thought about your race day nutrition strategy but what about the days before?
This is the time to make sure your body is hydrated, adequately fuelled and primed for performance. Knowing you’re doing everything you can to get yourself ready can also help ease some of those pre-race nerves.
What is pre-hydration, why it is good and how do you do it?
Hydration for a race should start around three days before. Just 1% dehydration can have negative effects on the body so you don’t want to take any chances.
In the days leading up to the race, ensure you’re drinking plenty of water so you’re well hydrated on the start line. The NHS recommend drinking 1.2 litres a day, although the exact requirement varies from person to person. If you’re exercising regularly you’ll likely need more, we’d recommend at least two litres daily.
On the morning of an endurance race, for prime hydration, aim to drink 500mls of a Veloforte hydration drink 1-2 hours before and 150-200mls immediately before you begin.
Our hydration drinks contain electrolytes – the essential minerals such as sodium and potassium lost through sweat – which help control your water balance and aid hydration.
Our Attivo and Vivo electrolyte powders also provide 22g of rapid-release carbohydrate to give you an energy boost when you may be feeling too nervous to eat or don’t want anything sitting heavy in your stomach before you start.
What is pre-fuelling, what are the benefits and how do you it well?
Two days before your race, start to up the amount of carbohydrates you're eating to top up those glycogen stores. You can’t fully fill your muscles with glycogen from just one meal so aim for around 8-10g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight in that two-day window. If you weigh 70kg that's around 560-700g.
Want to avoid the race day portable toilets? Avoid eating anything too fatty, spicy or fibrous the day before your event as this can cause GI distress and cramping.
On race day morning opt for a breakfast you’ve tried in training and know works for you, the slow-release carbohydrates in porridge are a perennial fave.
If you’ve got a while to wait between leaving home or your hotel and the race start – seriously, why do they keep you in the pens so long? – nibble on a Veloforte bar or take on an energy nectar for extra energy, to ensure you’re not starting on empty.
How to fuel and hydrate during short events
If you’re lining up for a 10k or super-sprint triathlon, you shouldn’t need to think too much about fuelling on the course. Carbohydrates, which are stored in your muscles and liver as glycogen, are the body’s favoured form of energy during exercise.
Typically you have enough glycogen to last you around 90 minutes until you need to refuel, so water should be sufficient to get you round – provided you’ve fuelled well the evening and hours before.
If you fancy giving yourself a bit of a kick, though, a Doppio energy nectar just before the start could give you an advantage.
Doppio contains 75g of natural caffeine from guarana for extra mental and physical alertness. As our energy nectars are made solely from ingredients found in nature, they’re much easier on the stomach than many sports gels so shouldn’t cause the cramping or GI issues some products bring.
On hot days, when you know you’re going to be sweating heavily, sip on a hydration drink like Veloforte Solo as well as water. With a lower carbohydrate and calorie profile than our other hydration options, it's perfect for shorter events and workouts where replacing lost electrolytes is more important than energy intake.
How to fuel and hydrate during longer events
Whether it’s an ultra, sportive, long-distance tri or the training sessions that are going to get you there, if you’re exercising for longer than 90 minutes, you’re going to need carbohydrates, liquids and electrolytes to keep you at your PB-smashing best.
But you don’t want to wait until you’re hungry to start topping up those glycogen stores. Carbohydrates can take up to 15 minutes to be absorbed into the bloodstream depending on the individual. Leave it too late to refuel and you may be at risk of crashing headlong into that pesky wall.
The amount of energy you need to take on during a longer race is individual and varies depending on a number of factors including size, genetics and intensity. As a general rule, though:
British Cycling recommend taking on around one gram of carbohydrate per kilo of bodyweight per hour during racing – so if you weigh 70kg, this would be around 70g of carbs.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommend 30-60g carbohydrates per hour for moderate exercise and up to 90g during ultra-endurance events.
Play around within these ranges during training to find your magic carb dose. The carbohydrates can come from any source – real food, drinks, nectars etc.
Training is the time to find out what works for you. Many athletes favour a mix of energy gels and bars to fight off flavour fatigue, mix up textures and provide a mix of fast-release and slower-release carbohydrates.
During a long-distance event we’d recommend taking on Veloforte energy nectars round 60-75 minutes after starting your session and topping this up every 45 minutes or so. Veloforte energy nectars provide a dual-source of carbohydrate from all-natural glucose and fructose sources. This combination is easier on the gut than single-source carbs and provides a rapid-release of energy.
Try mixing this up with Veloforte energy bars and real food for slower-release more sustained energy. Experiment in the run up to an event to find your perfect combination.
While water is a no brainer, during long rides, runs, hikes and triathlons, you’ll also benefit from regular sips of a hydration drink to replace the electrolytes you’re sweating out. An imbalance in electrolytes can cause muscle weakness and spasms, fatigue, confusion and dizziness. Not what you want on your road to race-day glory.
To combat this add our vegan hydration powders to your bottle. They flow rapidly into the bloodstream and the hypotonic formula means they’re the most effective form of sports drink for replacing lost fluids at pace. They also contain carbohydrates for extra energy.
Fuelling a gym session
The majority of gym sessions are shorter so don’t require you to take on any fuel during training. If you’re working out at max intensity though, or taking part in a gruelling HIIT session, you might want a bit of a pick me up.
Sipping on a Veloforte hydration drink should give you the edge. As well as keeping you hydrated, it’ll replace any lost electrolytes and the rapid-release carbohydrates – 5g in Solo and 22g in Attivo and Vivo will give you an injection of energy.
If you’ve been doing some serious strength work, don’t forget to take on some carbs and protein after. The Veloforte Forza bar is perfect for chucking in your gym bag to keep you going until your next meal.
While that final sprint may have left you feeling a bit queasy, taking on fuel after a hard session or event is the best way to kickstart recovery and get you feeling human again.
Aim for a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein. The carbohydrate will replace lost glycogen and protein encourages the uptake of carbohydrates, and starts to help all those micro tears in your muscles repair.
If it’s going to be a while until your next meal, or you really can’t face food, a Veloforte bar such as Veloforte Forza, which contains that magic 3:1 ratio, is ideal for throwing in your kit bag. Sipping on a hydration drink will also help you hydrate and the electrolytes will draw more fluid back into the body.
In the evening and days following the race treat your body nicely, you’ve worked it hard so now’s the time to say thanks. While the odd treat certainly isn’t going to hurt, healthy nutritious food will help you body recover and, as your immune system may well be low, eating plenty of fruit and veg will give you an antioxidant boost to help ward off colds and illness.