Asthma, Timing Strength Training, Race-Day Nutrition and More – Ask a Cycling Coach 280

Why is asthma so prevalent in endurance sports, how to time your strength training with endurance training, ideal race-day nutrition and more in Episode 280 of the Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast.

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Episode Notes


Get a pint glass; one finger tart cherry juice, one finger beet juice, top up with sparkling water and you have an awesome drink :slight_smile: I quit booze a few years ago and this is a great red wine replacement at dinner.


Please could you look into the carbs & protein following a workout in more detail in a future episode? Having watched the following video, it seems studies championing carbs & protein didn’t match calories, while a study that did found just carbs was better:


Great ep as always. A couple alternatives to sports nutrition are bananas, dates, and diluted natural fruit juice (I use 3:1 water to apple/lemon juice) with a pinch of salt for hydration. I know that the gels and drink mixes are great for performance but I have to wonder about the long-term health consequences of all that processed food. I do use them on longer outdoor rides (bananas only keep so long) and races, and they work great, but on a day-to-day basis when no races are coming up, I try to use natural foods as much as possible. Seems to work well for me! I also feel better later in the day if I’ve had 5 bananas vs. 5 gels. Oh, and for recovery I make chocolate milk with organic chocolate syrup (cane sugar), almond milk, and some pea protein.


so this is helpful to have as the “ideal” but i have questions. Like, how do you bring four bottles on a two hour evening workout with intervals, if you’re doing it outside?

Also question for the group. I love blocks (especially scratch labs) but they are oftne hard to get open. Especially in the fall, they are hard ot open with heavy gloves, and if i don’t wear heavy gloves, then my hands are too numb to effectively tear those things open. Anyone know any good solutions?

I pre-open just the corner of blocks/bars before the workout, or empty them into a ziplock prior if I think it’ll rain. Ziplocks are still pretty easy to open even with heavier gloves!

Sometimes, you gotta stop for that bottle-fill at a gas station. Some drink mix brands make single-serve pouches you can carry with you to mix with water (or mOrE ZipLoCkS :rofl:), but I often plan my routes to have access to water if I know I’ll need to refill.


This is an interesting topic for sure! The study cited in this video looked specifically at replenishment of muscle glycogen, which is absolutely key to recovery. However, glycogen synthesis is only one of many recovery cascades, including conservation of lean mass, or muscle repair. This study also used a specific protocol of ingesting the recovery solution (eg. cho, pro + cho, cho + cho) every 30 minutes over the 4 hour recovery window in the experimental protocol, which, while effective, is not always realistic for folks fitting their training into a busy schedule. Also, note that two (out of 8! 25%!) participants withdrew from the study due to GI distress.

The graph shown in the video is misleading. If you read the actual study, the authors note that compared with the lowest-concentration CHO-only solution, both PRO+CHO and CHO+CHO showed significant increases in subsequent work capacity, but there was no significant difference between PRO+CHO and CHO+CHO. They also note that 1 (out of 6!) participants exhibited a decline in work capacity following intake of CHO+CHO solution.


If you only look at the graph, it seems like CHO+CHO had better outcomes visually, but the statistics say otherwise.

What the authors themselves conclude is that CHO+PRO is more effective than an equivalent fraction of CHO without PRO, but that the CHO+PRO was not more effective than an isocaloric equivalent of CHO only. In other words, more CHO is better, but adding protein to the mix also gets you there.


This study also looked at only men, only 6 subjects, and used treadmill running for the protocol, which mirrored an earlier study (Loon et al 2007) which found similar results using cycling: adding protein to the mix increases glycogen restoration compared to only CHO, unless you increase the total amount of CHO intake post-exercise, in which case you can achieve similarly significant increases as CHO+PRO.

I think although the video’s conclusion that CHO is more effective than CHO+PRO isn’t quite right (in light of the authors’ own analysis and conclusions) the main point of the video was to emphasize the importance of CHO intake post exercise. Many people think of “recovery” as “a protein shake” and overlook the importance of carbohydrates. In that regard, the study absolutely supports the importance of CHO intake to replenish glycogen.

I recommend a 4:1 CHO:PRO ratio because recovery is about more than just replenishing glycogen, and this is a daily training habit. In addition to glycogen replenishment, you want to conserve lean mass and trigger a variety of other recovery cascades. The 4:1 ratio helps serve as a signaling mechanism to the body that it’s time to recover and initiate adaptations. (The paper notes that part of the restoration of “work capacity” following the protocol could be due to beneficial effects of protein on the central nervous system, not just on insulin response that enables CHO uptake for muscle glycogen.) Studying these effects is extremely difficult to do, and while there is some conflicting evidence on the nitty gritty, there is a rich body of literature that supports a mix of protein with CHO for recovery signaling and glycogen replenishment.

In some cases, glycogen replenishment might be the most important factor: between stages of a stage race, for example, you’re more concerned with glycogen than lean mass conservation (but even then effects on CNS would be extremely important). But when it comes to consistent, daily training, you want to give your body the best chance to make all of the adaptations it needs: not only for muscle glycogen, but also lean mass and CNS.

The video takes one study of only six male runners (after 2 had to drop out due GI issues) that explores post-workout intake in light of ONLY glycogen, and concludes something other than what the authors of the study themselves conclude, for application to cyclists generally. Certainly there are sample size effects, sampling effects, and gender effects at the very least. While the study is fascinating in that it provides great fodder for future research directions, I don’t see it as sufficient to counter a broader body of research suggesting the benefit of including protein, in terms of practical application.


lol now that you say this it seems obvious and ifeel preetttttty silly.

Thanks! And i’ll give the ziplock idea a shot, thanks for that too!


Fire stations usually have drinking fountains or spigots, and public parks often have fountains (during summer months), too!


Another good pro tip for water! I carry a lifestraw, sawyer straw, or steripen with me on long rides. They take up relatively little space and are quite literally a life saver. I’ve filled bottles from very questionable water sources with these and the water is perfectly pure (Edit: Well, I have no way of testing it’s purity, but it didn’t look bad, tasted fine, and I’ve lived to pedal another day).


Wow, thank you so much for looking into the study and answering in such detail too!

So in essence, the study doesn’t really stand up as there were only 6 athletes taking part, and it’s probably best to continue to add protein to your post workout nutrition as other research suggests that a mix of both CHO and PRO better aid recovery and glycogen replenishment.

Thanks again Amber for taking the time to look into this! You’re a :star:! :+1:


You put it so well and so succinctly! I should just link your reply as the tl;dr :joy:

Yeah, there are a few studies that suggest increasing CHO intake can achieve comparable levels of glycogen replacement as CHO + protein, which is super interesting, but: they mostly involve very limited, small samples, and glycogen is not the only player in recovery. It will be interesting to see where these studies lead in the research landscape.

Thanks for listening to the podcast and for asking a great question!


“WorldTour level eating” - the need to do that is one of my primary motivations for training… :grinning:

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Re. Ambers nutrition plan. How can someone eat that much? Maybe if you are a body builder. If I would eat that amount of food during my rides and afterwards, I would put so much weight on and en route to diabetes.

I was listening to the great nutrition outline by @Amber, but one thing really bothered me. Regardless of the intensity of calories burned, I do not see the early morning routine work.

Let’s say a 5 AM wake up, eating my toast and jam, on the bike for one hour, and consuming the 500 kcal as discussed. After the ride, I have my recovery shake at 7 AM at the latest, and I am supposed to survive until lunch with one piece of toast and just liquid calories?

This would make me ravenous, hangry, and binge at lunch so bad. So my question is, with the simple math of 500 kcal burned during the workout and a basic diet of 2,000kcal on top of that, how would you distribute the daily calories? I personally would definitely need something solid in me after the workout, so should I distribute the 500 as PERI-workout nutrition or “dig in” to my other 2,000kcal with the post-workout meal?

Thank you as always for the great contents!

Why would you put on weight? Amber was outlining an approach to timing your calorie intake to match your training routine, but with the goal of being calorie neutral overall.


Really great episode, yet again. At 1hr 47 minutes, I took a screenshot to remind myself to post here: that point about doing less and getting faster is so true and resonates with me massively. After spending 18 months spinning my wheels (literally and metaphorically) doing lots of riding and running, I finally committed to less volume + structure… what would you know, I’m now running faster at a much lower RPE and although I am almost certain that my FTP will jump at my next test!

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I appreciate this episode a lot. I always knew I was a bad eater but I didn’t ever realize exactly how bad. I think I’ve been essentially honking in many of my endurance rides and could maintain a lot higher training load if I managed to not do so!

How about things like XCO races which are about an hour and a half? Would you try to eat, or just rely on maybe a higher octane drink mix?

Often the more technical courses, the places where you’d have an opportunity to eat are the same places where you can really lay down power, and they are limited. So you would be making a real tradeoff

ETA: I tried to do this fueling plan this morning before and during a endurance / tempo MTB ride, ended up being about 2000 kj of work over about 2.5 hrs. I felt like I was eating SO MUCH but when I counted up the calories, I still ended in a deficit. But I also felt so much better during the ride back from the trail head. Just bc I felt like trying it, I cruised at between 280 and 320 watts, passing groups of roadies w their carbon wheels and spinning out on flats. All without that usual dull, leaden feeling. This was basically a “breakthrough” with no extra effort, just more eating.


I agree that the early workout makes things complicated. I get up and am on the trainer by 5:30, consuming toast or something similar during the warm up, then some liquid calories during that ride (tailwind). I eat a bowl of oatmeal afterwards, but am always fully hungry again by 9:30 or 10, and then still hungry for lunch.

I don’t know if this is the best method, but I try to just make each eating event smaller than the previous. My bowl of oatmeal is huge with lots of stuff mixed in, like peanut butter powder, chia, and hemp hearts. My second breakfast is normally pretty good sized as well. Lunch is smaller, and dinner I just try to hold myself to the same portion as my wife, who is much smaller than me but has also eaten much less than me throughout the day.

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