Friday, November 7, 2014

Fueling Your Spin

One fitness trend that is rapidly growing in popularity is spin cycling classes.  Most large fitness centers have a spin studio and the rise in popularity has led to spin only studios that offer many different classes and levels of complexity that appeal to the casual exerciser to those endurance junkies that compete in long distance endurance events.

There are many advantages and attractions to spin classes.  These include social elements, high intensity in a short period of time, a fun and motivating environment and accountability. While spin classes are fun with music, lights and entertaining and engaging instructors, they can also be very intense and produce a high calorie burn which is what many time crunched people are looking for.

While most spin classes are 45-60 minutes in length, you want to maximize your time on the bike to have a quality workout.  In order to perform at your best for the short burst of effort, proper fueling for your ride is extremely critical.  Many people ignore this aspect of exercise and hit the wall or “bonk” during their spin class. Here are some guidelines to make sure your tank is full with the proper fuel and timing in order to bring out your inner Tour de France!

Before Exercise
Consume a minimum of eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. You should drink enough so your urine is a clear color throughout the day. Shortly before your workout, drink about 8-ounces of water so that you’ll have
a sweat-loss replacement readily available.

Eat a diet rich in complex carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and low in fat.  Start with breakfast and
if you’re skipping it, you’re making a big mistake. You should eat approximately 60 percent of your calories from carbohydrate-rich foods, or about 6–10 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of your body weight per day. If you’re eating a low carbohydrate diet, your muscles will feel chronically fatigued and you will feel the dreaded BONK.

The complex carbohydrates found in potatoes, pasta, grains and dried beans are essential for maintaining high energy for training. You only want to eat these carbs before or immediately following a workout when you body needs them. During the remainder of the day opt for lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and legumes to keep your blood sugar stable.

I prefer a PowerBar Performance bar or a 24 ounce bottle of Gatorade Endurance 60 minutes before an intense workout.  The sugars will be used as fuel for the high intensity effort.

During Exercise
While some state water is important, I opt for drinking one bottle (24 ounces) of Gatorade Endurance or PowerBar Perform during my work out instead of water.  Both have an excellent mix of slow to fast releasing sugars, potassium and sodium.  Exercise reduces the sodium and potassium levels in the body though the sweat response and drinking water only can further reduce your sodium and sugar levels.

Post Workout
What you do immediately post workout is as important as what you do before and during. Your muscles are in a state of fatigue and you have greatly depleted your glycogen stores.  I recommend a recovery drink that contains both carbohydrates and protein. I prefer Endurox R4 as it is the best recovery drink I have found. You will also want to make sure you rehydrate properly with 16-32 ounce of water.


Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer, USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, Group Exercise Instructor, exercise and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events.