With the number of events open to SUP Racers increasing and with competition for the top spots on the podium getting stiffer, more paddlers are looking to maximise their performance, either through better use of their equipment of with better preparation for their ‘engines’. Dr Bryce Dyer recently explored marginal gains on the hardware side and here, Martin Rendle from TORQ gets technical and explains how nutrition can help improve performance.
The days leading up to the event:
If you want to perform at your best on the day of the event, you’ll need to be well rested and nicely loaded up with carbohydrate. This means that you should taper your running/training for the week leading up to the event so that you’re doing much less than normal. I guess the flip side of this is that you should have been doing ‘more than normal’ in the few weeks preceding the event to build up your fitness. The diagram below should give you some idea as to how the principle of tapering works.
The objective behind tapering is that you build up a trough of fatigue by training hard and allowing inadequate recovery over a few weeks and then as you back off on the approach to the event, your body ‘Super compensates’. Taking advantage of this Super compensation or peaking in form will give you your best performance.
The day before the event:
So, you’re well rested and peaked, which means there are no training sessions you can do now that are going to boost your performance the next day, or are there? Well really, the biggest single focus for you is to ‘Carbo Load’ because the more carbohydrate you can cram into your muscles, the longer you’re going to last tomorrow and the faster you’ll be able to paddle. To carbohydrate load successfully, the obvious procedure would be to eat a lot of carbohydrate-rich foods the day before the event and this is indeed true, but there is also a little training session you can do to boost carbohydrate storage further.
There have been various protocols investigated over the years for successful carbohydrate loading, some of which have been quite painful and unpopular, but this one discovered by the Australian Institute of Sport in the 90’s showed record levels of carbohydrate storage for relatively little effort.
So what does the procedure involve? Approximately 24 hours before the event begins, give yourself a 5-10 minute warm up, have a good stretch and then find a stretch water that will allow you to unleash 3 minutes of maximal effort. Make sure that your 3-minute effort is absolutely maximal so that you feel a real ‘lactate burn’ afterwards, and then for the next 24 hours you need to rest and eat, eat, eat. The vast majority of your calories should be carbohydrate, keeping protein intake moderate and fat very low. Fat will delay the absorption of carbohydrate and your event performance will never be limited by lack of fat stores however skinny you are, you can be assured of that, so fat will be a hindrance at this time. If you’re eating dry forms of carbohydrate, make sure that you drink plenty of water too, because for every gram of carbohydrate you store, you will also retain 3 grams of water and without the fluid, you won’t store the carbohydrate.
Successful carbohydrate loading will leave you feeling quite heavy on event day, but as you use the carbohydrate up (as the event unwinds) you’ll feel better and better. Having muscles full of carbohydrate effectively bolsters your fuel supplies so that your time to exhaustion is increased (you’ll be able to paddle for longer before you run out of energy). Combining this approach with a solid fuelling strategy on the day (to be discussed next) will pay huge dividends.
Carbohydrates come in 2 forms, starches (polysaccharides) and sugars (mono and disaccharides). Here are some examples so that you can plan your loading effectively:
Polysaccharides: Pasta, rice, potatoes, chickpeas, lentils, bread, couscous.
Mono/Disaccharides: Sugar, wine gums, fruit pastels, sugary drinks (non-diet), honey, jam.
Breakfast cereals tend to be a good mix of both types, as do baked beans. In fact there are many products that contain both types of carbohydrate, but you just need to make sure that you make choices that don’t contain much fat. Chocolate or cakes are bad choices for instance. The advantage of Mono/Disaccharides over polysaccharides from a Carbo-loading perspective is that they are lower in bulk and richer in carbohydrate calories than polysaccharides. From a long-term health perspective, polysaccharides are favourable, because they contain dietary fibre, some protein and various vitamins and minerals. In essence, for one day, a gorge on the less healthy carbohydrates isn’t going to have a significant impact on your health and will make loading easier, but be aware that Carbo-loading is quite a unique proposition.
TORQ products can be used as part of the Carbo loading process, because they’re rich in carbohydrate and low in fat, but it would be wrong for us to suggest that they’re going to do a better job than normal food. Where TORQ products will really help will be during the event itself and immediately afterwards, which will be discussed shortly.
One product that you could consider for the Carbo-loading process is our ‘TORQ energy – Natural Organic Unflavoured. It is a polysaccharide, but it has the density of a mono/disaccharide, which means that although it has the density and carbohydrate concentration of sugar, it has no sweetness. This product can be added to all sorts of sweet and savoury foods like cups of tea or soup without altering the flavour. Professional runners use it extensively as an invisible calorie to help with Carbo loading and refuelling after exercise, because 3 level scoops have the same carbohydrate content as a large bowl of pasta. If this is of interest, please visit the following link on the TORQ website.