by Christine Al Hakeem PT

“Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period.” – Lou Holtz

What you put in your body, reflects on your performance as an athlete. A healthy and balanced diet consist of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. These are the nutrients you need for optimal performance.

To simplify the explanation of the importance of a balanced diet for a motorbike racer, think of your body as analogous to the bike itself. Your bike needs fuel and air for combustion in order to function.  The same goes to your, body which needs food and oxygen for it to function.

The mechanical parts of a motorbike need lubrication in order to prevent overheating and damage. Likewise, the body is made up of dynamic parts such as the bones, joints and muscle which need hydration in order to prevent injuries.

And like the need for the engine to release carbon monoxide while burning the fuel, the body needs to release waste in order for it to maintain function.

The three things we are going to discuss today are fuel and water and their importance to your system.

Fuel

The body burns a sugar known as glucose with oxygen, and that reaction releases energy. Carbohydrates commonly thought of as sugars exist in two types: Simple (easily absorbed) such as sugars found in fruit, Complex (Not easily absorbed). Carbohydrates that are not used are stored as glycogen in our body (Asif, 2011).

Fuel Regulation

The body regulates fuel levels a hormone called insulin, which functions like a fuel injector in the bike. The more glucose enters your body the more insulin will be released which will then result in an increase in glycogen, which in return reduces the amount of energy available for the body to use. People with diabetes consume low GI food. Low GI foods get slowly absorbed by the body which is beneficial for diabetics to improve their blood glucose control. (Arvidsson-lenner, 2004)

Studies have shown that consuming Low GI foods before activity
can improve with performance for 5 km run for athletes (Welis, 2014).

On the other hand, high GI foods give high energy for a short period of time which will then result in fatigue and tiredness. Low GI foods include legumes, beans, bran cereals, high fiber fruits and vegetables without starch. It’s better to have high or medium GI foods during or after the activity, such as brown or white rice, oatmeal, whole grain pasta, baked potato. (Beavers, 2008).

Water

During the race, your body will sweat to maintain the core temperature. Athletes who’s sweat loss exceeds fluid intake became dehydrated. (Casa, 2000) Signs of Dehydration include cramps, weariness or apathy.  Severe dehydration can lead to dizziness, headache, vomiting, chills, dyspnea, decreased performance, heat sensations in the neck and head.

Dehydration can reduce your concentration on the motorbike while driving, and slow your reaction time, which will impact your overall performance in the race.

To avoid dehydration, keep your body hydrated. Studies recommend 500-600 ml of fluid 2-3 hours before the activity and 200-300 ml 10-20 mins after activity. After activity, it is better to hydrate with additional sodium in the rehydration drink, which is shown to be beneficial for conservation and increasing the drive to drink. (Casa,2000)

An additional tip is to avoid caffeinated, alcoholic, and energy drinks before, during and after activity, as they contribute to dehydrating you further.  If you prefer something different than sport drinks, studies have shown that fat free milk is actually more effective than commercially available sport drinks at promoting recovery from strength and endurance exercise. (Roy, 2008)

The way you take care of your bike, take care of your body!

Beavers, K. M., & Leutholtz, B. (2008). Glycemic Load Food Guide Pyramid for Athletic Performance. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 30(3), 10-14. doi:10.1519/ssc.0b013e3181770a59

Asif, H. M., Akram, M., Saeed, T., Khan, M. I., Akhtar, N., Rehman, R., Shaheen, G. (2011). Carbohydrates. International Research Journal of Biochemistry and Bioinformatics, 1, 1st ser., 001-005. Retrieved January, 2011, from www.researchgate.net/publication/260228521_Review_Paper_Carbohydrates_1

Arvidsson-Lenner, R., Asp, N., Axelsen, M., Bryngelsson, S., Haapa, E., Järvi, A., . Vessby, B. (2004). Glycaemic Index. Relevance for health, dietary recommendations and food labelling. Food & Nutrition Research, 48(2). doi:10.3402/fnr.v48i2.1509

Welis, W., Rimbawan, R., Sulaeman, A., & Riyadi, H. (2014). Influence of Glycemic Index-Based Menu on Endurance Performance of Athletes. Asian Social Science,10(5). doi:10.5539/ass.v10n5p173

Casa, D. J., Armstrong, L. E., Hillman, S. K., Montain, S. J., Reiff, R. V., Rich, B. S., & Roberts, W. O. (2000). National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Fluid Replacement for Athletes . Journal of Athletic Training , 35(2), 212-224. Retrieved June, 2000, from
Roy, B. D. (2008). Milk: the new sports drink? A Review. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 5(1), 15. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-5-15

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