Energy and Recovery from USN


Multi-Stage Races - The Challenge of Recovery by USN


Most 'tour-type' events such as the Panorama Tour require successive days of intense riding, with varying terrain, environmental conditions and temperatures. Combine this with the constant battle to achieve rapid recovery cycles, optimal hydration and glycogen loading methods.


It is essential that you consider spending some time planning your nutrition strategy and supplementation, as well as the logistics required for you to meet your basic dietary needs during the Tour. Ultimately, you will want to ensure that you have prepared well prior to starting the tour, making it necessary to meet your recovery needs throughout to accelerate adaptation and minimise the risk of injury. Calorie density and nutrient intake are directly related to recovery, but one of the most underrated recovery methods is sleep – make sure that you achieve at least 7-8 hours daily.


This is a how-to guide to help you manage your pre-event carbohydrate-loading, your pre-race meal and top-up snacks. It offers advice on clinically researched methods on how you should meet your recovery needs when you get off the bike, how to heighten your natural gH levels to enhance repair, and how to cycle food and supplementation to achieve consistently high performance levels on multi-stage events.


Endurance Competition - Carbohydrate Loading


Carbohydrate loading is a method commonly used to saturate your muscle tissue and liver with higher volumes of glycogen, your primary source of energy. Successful loading requires that you to gradually taper down your activity level while increasing your intake of carbohydrate-based foods in each of your meals.


Preparation is the single most impotent factor when it comes to a successful race. You will ensure your bike has been serviced, and that your gear is in order, but how many of you prepare your diets and sports nutrition with the same attention to detail?


Your digestive system has to acclimatise to any additional supplementation that you will be using on race day, so it makes sense to train with your race fuel. Strategise your eating plan to make sure that you reach your required protein and carbohydrate intake levels prior to your event.


Taper your training down 5-6 days prior to the event, and make sure that you get enough rest starting 36 hours prior to the race. Increase your intake of low-GI carbohydrates with each meal from 4-6 days prior to the event so that you get optimal glycogen saturation in your muscle tissue and liver prior to your event.


In some situations, it is important to consider special strategies to carbohydrate load may be required. This is especially evident in multi-stage and multi-day events. As you are taking part in a multi-stage/ multi-day event, make use of USNEnduro Carbs as a carbohydrate and electrolyte loader 4-6 days prior to the start of your race.


Here are a few basic dietary tips for your preparation:

  • Manage your meals and DO NOT over eat! Have a standard portion approximately four hours before the race and a top-up snack one to two hours before the race.

  • If your race is early in the morning, have a low-GI, carbohydrate-rich meal the night before and a snack one to two hours before the race.

  • Choose low-GI carbohydrate-rich foods, that are low-fat. Foods such as brown basmati rice, sweet potato, buckwheat, quinoa or oats should make-up at least 60% of your meal volume, with easy to digest proteins (chicken and fish), as well as fresh vegetables and non-saturated fat rounding your meal plan off.

  • Your top-up meals should include bagels, bran muffins, brown bread with peanut butter/ jam as well as USNCyto Power HP.

  • Include fluid with all pre-race meals and snacks. Sip regularly throughout your meals, but be cautious of over-hydration. Drink at least 300-400 ml of fluid immediately before the race begins. This helps to prime the stomach and improve gastric emptying during the race.

  • If you suffer from pre-race nerves, try a liquid meal supplement such as one USN Energy Pro Bar, USN Cyto Power HP or USN Epic Pro-All-in-One.


How to Manage your Meals for the Panorama Tour

Breakfast Options for the early starters:

  • Breakfast cereal with skim milk and fruit + toast + non-acidic fruit juice.

  • Muffins or crumpets + cold meat + fruit + yoghurt + water.

  • Pancakes + honey + fruit + nuts/ seeds + water.

  • Oats + nuts/ raisins + skim milk + honey + fruit + water.

Late Starters:

  • Baked potatoes (cooled) with low fat filling + juice.

  • Pasta with low fat sauce + juice/cordial.

  • Rolls/sandwiches + fruit + yoghurt + water.

  • Muscle Fuel STS.

Pre-Race Snack Options:

  • USN Energy Pro Bar.

  • USN Cyto Power HP/ USN Epic Pro All-in-One.

  • Fruit and yoghurt.

  • Toast and peanut butter.

  • Fruit bun and jam.

It is essential that you approach your diet with caution, and eat a high carbohydrate meal each evening or you will slowly become glycogen depleted and chronic fatigue will develop. If this is going to be a high intensity event on certain days, (intensity above 85% VO2 max.), it is important to avoid eating in the 4 hour pre-ride interval to avoid GI distress. But, on those long slow days where that's not an issue, take a 300 gm carbohydrate meal each day 3 to 4 hours before the ride will maximise glycogen reserves.

  • 4 days prior - balanced diet with 60-70% Calories from carbohydrates; at least 600 grams per day of carbohydrates in the 2 to 3 days prior to the ride

  • 4 hours prior - if the intensity is moderate, eating during this interval is okay, but try to avoid fatty foods and eat 2 hours before the ride. A 300 gram carbohydrate meal 3 to 4 hour pre ride is recommended.

  • Intra-event - regular snacks (Energy Pro Bar), energy gels (Vooma Ultra or Cyto Gel HP), or specialised endurance supplements (Cyto Power HP or Epic Pro All-in-One) to replace the estimated calories burnt per hour of work.

  • Post-event - a post ride carbohydrate snack, particularly in the 10 to 15 minutes immediately afterwards, will take advantage of the window for maximum glycogen resynthesis and may cut down on muscle soreness/ inflammation and fatigue. Eat a high carbohydrate meal that night after the ride, and try to eat at least 600 grams of carbohydrate per day above and beyond that needed to replace the calories burned on that day's ride.

  • Fluids - one water bottle per hour, perhaps a bit more in hot weather

A few additional tips for those trips that will have long back-to-back days on the bike.

  • Train with long back-to-back rides. You can train for a single century by riding long once a week because the event calls for just one day of exertion - and then you can rest. But to build the stamina for a week (or two) of daily rides you should train with several long, back to back, rides.

  • Replace those calories in training. When you are increasing your training miles, you need to replace the calories you are burning (and fluids too) to keep muscle glycogen stores intact. If you skimp, you run the risk of increasing your level of fatigue.

  • Respect your contact points. Keep your hands, feet and saddle area happy. Pain in any of those areas can ruin a good adventure. Think twice about using new gear.

  • Beware of overtraining.It's tempting to put in big miles to prepare for the week. Going too fast (and often) has its own set of risks. Train smart.