Scientists pull a ‘Zwifty’ to unlock the power of sports nutrition

Cyclists who retreated indoors due to COVID-19 restrictions could discover the nutritional keys to maximised performance.

A new Australian Catholic University study aims to investigate the fuelling habits of recreational and elite riders who have taken to their turbo trainers and online training platforms such as Zwift and TrainerRoad during the coronavirus pandemic.

Carbohydrate is the preferred fuel source for the working muscles when it comes to high intensity, prolonged exercise and yet the body's carbohydrate stores only have a certain capacity. This means executing an effective fuelling strategy during a key training session or cycling race is important for sustained optimal performance. Riding on the road however comes with its challenges.

"There are limitations out on the road during a long ride and replenishing stores can be difficult. But there are no excuses not to nail it when you're on the indoor trainer," principal researcher Dr Andy King from ACU's Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research said.

Running low on carbohydrate leads to loss of cycling pace and power output and could ruin that bid for a personal best performance. Unlocking higher rates of carbohydrate fuelling, depending on your ride, can enhance both exercise capacity and performance.

According to study co-investigator and sport dietitian Rebecca Hall, the research hopes to shine a light on current indoor cycling nutrition practices. "We wish to offer cyclists out there racing at home on Zwift or the turbo trainer the opportunity to enhance their knowledge and performance through the power of good sports nutrition 101: fuelling for the type of ride they are completing," she said.

ACU is inviting cyclists of all abilities to participate in the Indoor Cycling Nutrition survey. For more information or to register for the questionnaire, follow this link.

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