There I was this Sunday at the top of a 1,300’ vertical foot ascent on my mountain bike, feeling like I took seven shots of espresso. I was in utter disbelief at what I had accomplished from a personal perspective. How did I make it to the top without stopping once? Was it cardio? Water? For me, it was about food! Yes, food. For a lot of people out there this may come as no surprise, but to me, it was like a whole new aspect that I never even considered. The importance of how to fuel your body for all your outdoor adventures is way more important than I ever realized. Of course, I’m not an expert but here’s what I personally learned from friends, books, and shops that has really helped me.
Feeling Exhausted Even When In Shape
One of the biggest personal red flags that I didn’t recognize was I had a nutrition problem. Being in good shape, I couldn’t believe how exhausted I was all the time out on the trails. I’d start out on a backcountry mission or mountain bike adventure feeling great, and about two hours in, I’d crash. The energy in my body would go down to zero. I always thought that it was an endurance issue. That maybe I wasn’t running or exercising enough. Fortunately, my backcountry mentor pointed out that the issue was I wasn’t fueling my body throughout the day of activity.
Just Like Goldilocks… Feed Your Body Just The Right Amount
My first reaction was that I needed to eat a HUGE breakfast, but in reality that’s the worst thing I could do. Just like a high-performance engine, the key is to fuel the body at the right times to make sure it continues to run perfectly. Of course, you don’t want to overfeed it either. During exercise, your body can only process 30 to 60 grams of carbs per hour so any more than that and your hurting your performance.
This was my new personal revelation. As I’ve recently learned, there are three basic body types out there and each one uses a different ratio of carbs, proteins, and fats to run efficiently. For example, I’m an ectomorph meaning that I should be dedicating around 40% of my diet to carbohydrates compared to my adventure partner, Jaime, who is an endomorph, which is only 25% carbs. And on a day like this Sunday, where you’re out for a few hours or the entire day, understanding your primary fuel is key. I did one serving of pancakes (four dollar-sized pancakes), three tablespoons of maple syrup, and two eggs. This, plus 4 GU Energy blocks every hour put my body in overdrive!
In summary, if you feel like you’ve been hitting a wall when you’re ski touring or mountain biking, you might want to consider looking into what you eat and when you eat it. As I said earlier, I don’t consider myself an expert but rather a student. If there’s any advice you could provide us or other readers, we’d LOVE to hear it. Until then, happy adventuring!