Meeting the energy demands of ultraendurance cycling requires careful planning and monitoring of food and fluid intake. This case study presents the nutrient intake of a cyclist while training for and competing in the Race Across AMerica (RAAM). Carbohydrate accounted for 65% of the calories consumed during training (4,743 kcal), 75% during 24-hr races (10,343 kcal), and 78% during RAAM (8,429 kcal). Gastrointestinal complaints during RAAM included nausea, feeling of fullness, and abdominal distension. Although probably exacerbated by sleep deprivation, these problems were all diet related. Based on this experience, it appears that by controlling the carbohydrate concentration of beverages, limiting dietary fiber, and relying on carbohydrate as the primary energy source, one could both control gastrointestinal symptoms and promote optimal performance in training and in ultramarathon cycling.
Alice K. Lindeman is with the Department of Applied Health Science, 116 HPER, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405.