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Observed Dietary Practices of Recreational Ultraendurance Cyclists in the Heat

Kunces, Laura J.; Johnson, Evan C.; Munoz, Colleen X.; Hydren, Jay R.; Huggins, Robert A.; Judelson, Daniel A.; Ganio, Mathew S.; Vingren, Jakob L.; Volek, Jeff S.; Armstrong, Lawrence E.

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: June 2016 - Volume 30 - Issue 6 - p 1607–1612
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001248
Original Research

Kunces, LJ, Johnson, EC, Munoz, CX, Hydren, JR, Huggins, RA, Judelson, DA, Ganio, MS, Vingren, JL, Volek, JS, and Armstrong, LE. Observed dietary practices of recreational ultraendurance cyclists in the heat. J Strength Cond Res 30(6): 1607–1612, 2016—Dietary approaches for optimizing exercise performance have been debated in the literature for years. For endurance athletes, various position stands focus on recommendations for high-carbohydrate diets to maximize performance in events. However, theories of low-carbohydrate diets and their ability to provide more fuel may prove beneficial to ultraendurance athletes. Therefore, the purpose of this research was to observe the food and fluid consumption of successful recreational ultraendurance cyclists on the day before (ED-1), Event Day, and the day after (ED+1), a 162 km endurance event in a hot environment, and subsequently compare dietary intakes to recommendations and other observed dietary practices. Twenty men (age, 48 ± 8 years; mass, 85.1 ± 13.4 kg; height, 178.2 ± 7.4 cm) recorded all dietary items during ED-1, Event Day, and ED+1. Diet composition and the relationships between carbohydrate and caloric intake with finish time were examined. Results show athletes consumed a high-carbohydrate diet on ED-1 (384 g·d−1), Event Day (657 g·d−1), and ED+1 (329 g·d−1). However, there were no significant associations between carbohydrate (p > 0.05), or caloric intake (p > 0.05), and finish time. This study results great variation in diets of recreational endurance cyclists, although most consume within nationally recognized dietary recommendation ranges. Because there is great variation and lack of correlation with performance, these findings suggest that current high-carbohydrate dietary recommendations for general endurance athletes may not be sport specific or individualized enough for recreational ultraendurance cyclists, and that individualized dietary macronutrient composition manipulations may improve performance outcomes.

1EXOS, Phoenix, Arizona;

2University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas;

3University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut;

4US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, Massachusetts;

5California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, California;

6University of North Texas, Denton, Texas; and

7The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Address correspondence to Laura J. Kunces,

Copyright © 2016 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.