To quantify the fluid and food consumed during a men’s and women’s professional road-cycling tour.
Eight men (age 25 ± 5 y, body mass ± 7.4 kg, and height 177.4 ± 4.5 cm) and 6 women (age 26 ± 4 y, body mass ± 5.6 kg, and height 170.4 ± 5.2 cm) of the Australian Institute of Sport Road Cycling squads participated in the study. The men competed in the 6-d Tour Down Under (Adelaide, Australia), and the women, in the 10-d Tour De L’Aude (Aude, France). Body mass was recorded before and immediately after the race. Cyclists recalled the number of water bottles and amount of food they had consumed.
Men and women recorded body-mass losses of ~2 kg (2.8% body mass) and 1.5 kg (2.6% body mass), respectively, per stage during the long road races. Men had an average fluid intake of 1.0 L/h, whereas women only consumed on average 0.4 L/h. In addition, men consumed CHO at the rate suggested by dietitians (average CHO intake of 48 g/h), but again the women failed to reach recommendations, with an average intake of ~21 g/h during a road stage.
Men appeared to drink and eat during racing in accordance with current nutritional recommendations, but women failed to reach these guidelines. Both men and women finished their races with a body-mass loss of ~2.6% to 2.8%. Further research is required to determine the impact of this loss on road-cycling performance and thermoregulation.
Ebert and Martin are with the Dept of Physiology, and Stephens and McDonald, the Cycling Program, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, ACT 2616, Australia. Withers is with the Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA 5042, Australia.