Nutrition is Key

Building a Healthy Body

Why would you choose to use an energy gel?

It is not uncommon for people to feel reluctant about using an energy gel. This is quite understandable as they are known to have quite a strange consistency, unlike anything else really in our day to day diets (however this is something OTE have attempted to change).

Let us start by saying that energy gels are by no means essential when it comes to fuelling exercise. Choosing what you want to fuel your exercise and training with is very much down to personal preference. But don’t rule out energy gels just yet, they do have their benefits. 

What energy gels are however is convenient. A reliable form of quickly processed energy, perfect for when energy demand is high. But why is the energy so quickly absorbed compared to say a banana?

OTE energy gels are made up of multiple energy substrates (different types of sugar) which means the energy has multiple pathways into the body. Roughly you are looking at 10-15minutes before the energy from a gel is in the system and ready to be utilised. This is because its ingredients are so simple (just sugar) and easily processed, unlike things like bananas and flapjacks, which still supply energy but are harder for the body to break down.

An energy gel is best consumed when:

  • Fatigue sets in and you need energy fast. 
  • Intensity is high and you may struggle to chew normal food
  •  The terrain or course only allows small periods of time in which to take on board fuel

It is important to remember that not all energy gels are an equal. They can be different sizes, contain different ingredients and are designed for different purposes. It is always worth fully understanding the content of a gel you are going to use.

Our OTE energy gels have been carefully designed to taste great, but also deliver in the function department:

 

  1. Our gels deliver 20g of carbohydrates in fitting with the OTE Energy System. This means the gel can deliver 20-30 minutes of energy when exercising at a moderate to intense pace.
  2. We use real fruit juice concentrate to make the gels, giving them their natural fruity flavour. We do not compromise with ingredients, meaning our gels are much kinder on the stomach.
  3. OTE gels contain both carbohydrates for energy and electrolytes to replenish salts lost when sweating.
  4. The almost liquid like consistency of the OTE gel means that they do not need to be consumed with water.
  5. Unlike any other gel, we have a Dual Delivery System. This mean our gels have two ways in which they can be opened. You can tear to gulp or tear to sip. 

Energy gels don’t have to be the only way you fuel your exercise but can used to give you a real boost when you need it. We would always advise having a fuelling plan before taking on an event or competition and energy gels can be a very valuable part of this. Check out our tips and advice page for fuelling advice for a whole host of different endurance events.

Also why not check out some independent expert reviews of our energy gel range and see if they are the gel for you.

Posted in: General, Nutrition Advice


Why would you chose to use an energy gel?

It is not uncommon for people to feel reluctant about using an energy gel. This is quite understandable as they are known to have quite a strange consistency, unlike anything else really in our day to day diets (however this is something OTE have attempted to change).

Let us start by saying that energy gels are by no means essential when it comes to fuelling exercise. Choosing what you want to fuel your exercise and training with is very much down to personal preference. But don’t rule out energy gels just yet, they do have their benefits. 

What energy gels are however is convenient. A reliable form of quickly processed energy, perfect for when energy demand is high. But why is the energy so quickly absorbed compared to say a banana?

OTE energy gels are made up of multiple energy substrates (different types of sugar) which means the energy has multiple pathways into the body. Roughly you are looking at 10-15minutes before the energy from a gel is in the system and ready to be utilised. This is because its ingredients are so simple (just sugar) and easily processed, unlike things like bananas and flapjacks, which still supply energy but are harder for the body to break down.

An energy gel is best consumed when:

  • Fatigue sets in and you need energy fast. 
  • Intensity is high and you may struggle to chew normal food
  •  The terrain or course only allows small periods of time in which to take on board fuel

It is important to remember that not all energy gels are an equal. They can be different sizes, contain different ingredients and are designed for different purposes. It is always worth fully understanding the content of a gel you are going to use.

Our OTE energy gels have been carefully designed to taste great, but also deliver in the function department:

 

  1. Our gels deliver 20g of carbohydrates in fitting with the OTE Energy System. This means the gel can deliver 20-30 minutes of energy when exercising at a moderate to intense pace.
  2. We use real fruit juice concentrate to make the gels, giving them their natural fruity flavour. We do not compromise with ingredients, meaning our gels are much kinder on the stomach.
  3. OTE gels contain both carbohydrates for energy and electrolytes to replenish salts lost when sweating.
  4. The almost liquid like consistency of the OTE gel means that they do not need to be consumed with water.
  5. Unlike any other gel, we have a Dual Delivery System. This mean our gels have two ways in which they can be opened. You can tear to gulp or tear to sip. 

Energy gels don’t have to be the only way you fuel your exercise but can used to give you a real boost when you need it. We would always advise having a fuelling plan before taking on an event or competition and energy gels can be a very valuable part of this. Check out our tips and advice page for fuelling advice for a whole host of different endurance events.

Also why not check out some independent expert reviews of our energy gel range and see if they are the gel for you.

Posted in: General, Nutrition Advice


Ask Nigel Mitchell: Top tips on using nutrition to aid sleep?

The next question in our series of ‘Ask Nigel Mitchell’ looks at how the Cannondale Drapac Pro Cycling Team tackle the issue of sleep. A hugely important factor for any athlete, but particularly during stage races when maximum recovery is crucial.

What are your top tips on using nutrition to aid sleep?

We do quite a lot of work around the sleep environment, and with a lot of pro teams now, a lot of them are using these mobile bed room set ups, so they will transport from hotel to hotel the same mattress for the riders, this is something I was involved in instigating about 7-8 years ago with British Cycling. The reason is, sleep quality really improves when you have that familiar environment. Light pollution can also have big impact on sleep so little things in the rooms such as the standby light on a TV or a charger emitting light can be an issue. So getting the room as darks as possible is important by covering these lights. You know yourself if it affects you because if you are someone that tends to wake up in the middle of the night, if it is the first thing that you see when you wake up, then that is probably contributing to you waking up. Obviously there are other things affecting sleep as well such as exposure to the light of a computer monitor, phone or tablet.

In terms of nutrition, caffeine for some people can be a problem. For some people having caffeine after 3pm can affect not only the ability to get off to sleep but the quality of sleep too. What we do is we do not give riders on an evening or afternoon caffeinated coffee. Riders are often highly charge with caffeine gels so this can have a really negative affect. I have tried to look for caffeine antidote and I can’t find anything. So avoiding caffeine is an important one.

There are things that can help us to relax and sleep better. Heard the old wives tale of camomile tea? A lot of people find having a cup for before bed can help to relax them. I also advise to have spoonful of honey in that as it helps to restore liver glycogen and maintain even blood glucose through the night. Some casein containing protein on a night, so things like yogurt, milk, cottage cheese, can be beneficial. Try something like some natural yogurt with a spoonful of honey on a night. The protein content can again help to support sleep and recovery throughout the night. Other things to consider are things like temperature, so having a cooler room can help us sleep better too. So the factors for sleep are really multifactorial and nutrition plays a small but important part to this.

Going to bed on a full stomach can affect the quality of sleep as the body is working to digest it. As we are digesting food it increases our core temperature so that can affect our ability to sleep. The problem the pro’s have in the Tour de France is that quite often they are not actually getting their evening meal until 9-10pm due to transfers, so what we tend to do is feed them really well straight after the stage, so on an evening it can be a lighter meal.

Posted in: General, Nutrition Advice


Ask Nigel Mitchell: How do you tackle nutrition on a rest day of stage races?

We have the third answer in our series of your questions we asked Nigel Mitchell, Performance Nutritionist for Cannondale Drapac Pro Cycling Team

How do you tackling nutrition on the rest day of a stage race?

“A lot of it on a rest day depends on the individual and how fatigued they are. The whole idea of a rest day is to not necessarily just boost back up the glycogen stores, even though that will happen, but just by normal eating. People do not need to over eat on a rest day, just have normal sized portions. The very fact you are not riding as much on the rest day, means you tend to eat less, reason being you are not eating on the bike. The breakfast or pre ride meal (Yes, the pros still usually ride on a rest day) will probably be a bit smaller and lunch a bit smaller.

So what I tend to do when working with the pros on rest days is reduce the portions, roughly by about a quarter. And the reason for this is some people can super compensate. What this is is the body gets used to this high metabolic turnover that when they are on a rest day, they can gain up to 2-3kg, with extra glycogen and fluid, and this can affect how they feel the day after. A lot of people when they are on a training camp and training hard can have that phenomenon, so the advice I tend to give on rest days is focus on the quality, reduce the quantity and from a carbohydrate point of view, go for more low GI types of food like porridge for breakfast, sweet potato for lunch and quinoa or rice for dinner.”

Posted in: General, Nutrition Advice, OTE Fuelled Athletes


The Lottery that is Stage Racing Food

Stage racing is tough. Physically & mentally. Pushing yourself to the limit each day, crossing the line exhausted but somehow regathering, recovering and repeating for the duration of the race. There is no doubt food plays a huge part in this. Now having returned from my most recent race trip away with the Drops Cycling Team, I thought I would give you a bit of an insight.


We set off Monday morning, destination Czech Republic. A mere 820 miles between us and our accommodation is Krasna Lipa. Race day was not until Thursday so we had plenty of time to tackle the mammoth journey. Plenty of snacks- snacks are key. It is very easy when travelling to neglect nutrition and hydration, but really it should be one of the main focuses. The last thing you want is to travel all that way to get on the start line dehydrated and with low glycogen stores.

Team travel snacks consisted of:

  • Rice Cakes
  • Protein Bars
  • Mixed Nuts
  • Pretzels
  • Fruit
  • Popcorn

All washed down with OTE Hydro Tabs

A couple of days, and one rather eventful ride over the German/Czech boarder later, we arrived. I can’t lie to you, it wasn’t the most glamourous of destinations (although I have never really associated bike racing and glamour). Don’t get me wrong the Czech Republic has some stunning scenary, hillier than I had anticipated, and the race was fantastically run. But the accommodation, well that left a little to be desired. We were housed in an old school, it would seem hotels were few and far between in this part of Czech. On arrival, we were ready to run for the hills but as the week went on it is amazing how a basic, slightly tatty room can become a safe haven in a hectic and tiring week of racing. The four flights of stairs acted as daily leg tester, trying to gage whether they hurt more or less than the day before. However, putting it in context , we were there to race our bikes not have a holiday. It did the job.


Now stage race food can be a bit of a lottery. We see some of the men’s team being served up food to rival michelin star quality. Despite what social media portrays, this isn’t usually the case. Sometimes you hit jackpot, sometimes you live off dry granola & tuna wraps for a week. This stage race was somewhere in between. If plain chicken and boiled potatoes were your thing then you were laughing, as no exaggeration that was what every evening meal consisted of. I think it was the third night when we collectively cracked and drove over the German boarder to seek a proper restaurant and food with flavour.

Thankfully, we had also located a local Lidl on day one and stocked up on more snacks and essential items. I have to admit the food did become a lot more bearable as the days went on, although I am not sure what part fatigue played in this. One thing you quickly realise is, no matter what the food, you kind of just need to suck it up and eat what’s on offer. It is much harder doing a stage race on no food, than forcing down something that maybe isn’t to your taste.

Breakfast was a challenge in that the bowls supplied resembled a thimble and I’m a girl that likes a big (I mean big) bowl of porridge/granola in the morning. An essential item purchase of mine was a huge Tupperware for mixing large quantities of granola and yogurt each morning. The next challenge; the coffee, which was just not drinkable. Yes, ok I am a coffee snob, I love my bean to cup machine and rarely drink instant, but I am not sure what this coffee could be classified as. Pond water maybe? I went pretty much coffee-less for the entire week; quite a big deal for me, a self confessed coffee addict. All my caffeine kicks were coming from OTE gels that is for sure.


In terms of in race nutrition, that was thankfully quite simple. 60g of carbohydrate per hour was the aim and with the well thought out OTE Energy System of 20g units it was easy to work this out. It usually consisted of a 500ml bottle of Energy Drink and an Energy Gel per hour, keeping the Rocket Fuel Caffeine Gel for near the end for a much needed boost. The stages weren’t long, around the 100km mark, but they were fast with no flat and in a bunch of 180 riders this made attempting to eat food hard. Gels & energy drink made fuelling much easier that’s for sure. A Whey Recovery Drink straight after each stage and an OTE Protein Bar before bed was essential for trying to alleviate muscle soreness and get the body ready to fight another day.
O and I am a great believe in a post race treat. Mine: A White Chocolate Magnum and jet black double espresso.

My top tip for anyone venturing to the unknown to train or race. Be prepared. Where possible pack essential food to help you get out of sticky situations and allow you to complete the job you went there to do.

As the old saying goes: Fail to Prepare, then Prepare to Fail.

 

Posted in: General, OTE Fuelled Athletes


Ask Nigel Mitchell: Which is the best, smoothies or juices?

Here is the second in a series of your questions we put to Nigel Mitchell, Performance Nutritionist for Cannondale Pro Cycling.

Which do you think is better: Smoothie or Juice?

 

“Well they aredifferent but actually quite similar in that a smoothie will tend to have a dairy component so containing yougurt or milk, along side fruit. So benefits of this is that you will get protein with dairy to aid protein synthesis. Whereas with a  juice, these to be more vegetable based. In the juicing process you are removing the insoluble fibre so this will only give you the water soluble components of the vegetables, whereas the smoothie is more complete in terms of its nutritional content.  

We use both with Cannondale Pro Cycling Team.  At breakfast there will always be a smoothie and we have vegetable juices accompanying the other meals. With the pros, the juice really is a way of concentrating that vitamin and mineral intake without taking on a huge volumes of food. Another product we use a lot of is the OTE Super greens, which we will have made up and put on the table similar to the juice.”

Stuck for smoothie ideas? Here is one of our OTE favourites:

Posted in: General, Nutrition Advice


Ask Nigel Mitchell: The high fat or high carbohydrate diet debate

Over on our Facebook page, we asked you to put your questions to Nigel Mitchell, Performance Nutritionist for Cannondale Drapac Pro Cycling Team. Here is the first in a series of answer from the expert.

What are your opinion’s on the high carbohydrate vs high fat diet debate?

 

“This is a really simple one for me, this is about what is the job you are expecting the body to do. When in a race situation like the Tour de France, probably with in a normal stage the body is using predominantly fat as an energy source. However, when the speed really ramps up your body is using more carbohydrates. So the way we are looking at feeding in a race like this, is that riders will be consuming carbs throughout but in the first half of the race they tend to eat more solids foods like the OTE Duo Bars, small paninis or homemade rice cakes. When the pace is faster it is products with fast release energy like Energy Gels that are used. During the mountain stages, the types of products used can be a bit more intermittent, dependent on the stage profile.  Ultimately it really is about the job you are doing.

If you are going out for a steady bike ride for a few hours you really don’t need to take on many carbohydrates. A mistake some people makes is that they don’t realise that even when you are doing very steady state exercise your body is still using some carbohydrates; your body is just not using quite as much. The harder the work, the greater the demand. You can’t look to what other people are doing. If you are riding in a group with mixed ability, you could have people within that group finding the ride quite easy and for other people it could be really quite hard. So rule of thumb is work out the training zones you are working in. When working in zone 3 and above you are burning much more carbohydrates and there fore need to replenish them whilst riding.”

Posted in: General, Nutrition Advice


Food Friday with Jeremy Durrin

Name: Jeremy Durrin

Team: Neon Velo Cycling Team

What is your go to breakfast before training?

I have been really into green lentils with sauted onions, sweet potatoes, peppers and spinach topped with 3 eggs. I add hot sauce to flavor it up a bit. I find this breakfast really fuels me throughout the day and allows me to dig deep in training and provide me with plenty of protein for recovery.

If you were cooking to impress, what would your signature dish be?

I really enjoy a very well cooked homemade burger and sweet potato fries. Its just good food, and who doesn’t love a burger?

If you had to pick your perfect three course meal what would it be?

Starter: French Fries with aoli sauce

Main: 8oz rare steak with some asparagus and a baked potato

Dessert: Chocolate brownie with ice cream

What is your favourite OTE product & why?

My favorite product is the OTE Protein Bar. My favorite flavor is the dark chocolate and min; it just hits the spot after a hard race / ride. I often ride with one in my pocket during long hard races as well.

You’ve had a tough days training & you deserve a treat, what do you go for?

I don’t often have pizza, so that would be my ‘treat’ after a hard days training…. That, or fish & chips.

What is your top tip when it comes to nutrition & sport?

Eat real food. When it comes down to it, your body runs better when eating real food. Not processed and bagged goods, just real food. Veggies, proteins like chicken and steak, beans / rice. Your body operates better on things that are not produced in a factory.

Thanks very much to Jeremy for your time. You can follow the team on twitter @neon_velo as they continue to take on the national British race scene.

Posted in: General, OTE Fuelled Athletes


Food Friday with Laura Massey


Name: Laura Massey

Team: Drops Cycling Team

What is your go to breakfast before training?

I’m totally a creature of habit and I have this every day. A big bowl of porridge with cinnamon, blueberries, nuts, seeds and a generous dollop of crunchy peanut butter. Cup of tea (assam) and my OTE Health and Immune Vitamins!

If you were cooking to impress, what would your signature dish be?

I’m not renowned for my cooking skills…..but I can make a stellar Bakewell Tart using my Great-Grandmother’s secret family recipe. Served warm with clotted cream, mmm, I’m getting hungry! If I had to impress by cooking a proper meal it would probably be fish pie with egg, leeks and mashed potato.

If you had to pick your perfect three course meal what would it be?

Something very light…NOT, haha

Starter: Something like a goats cheese and caramelized onion puff pastry tart

Main: Roast beef (cooked rare) with all the trimmings and lots of gravy

Dessert: Sticky toffee pudding and clotted cream

 

What is your favourite OTE product & why?

Oooh tough question – the Anyimte Bar flapjacks are very tasty but for racing I really rate the Duo Bars as they’re so easy to eat whilst riding – you can take one of the bars out of the wrapper in your back pocket, squidge it up in your hand into a ball, shove it into your mouth (without dropping any) and still breathe!

You’ve had a tough days training & you deserve a treat, what do you go for?

Have to admit that I am a big chocoholic so anything chocolately and nutty is hard to resist. The peanut butter chocolate Magnums are my biggest temptation at the moment…

What is your top tip when it comes to nutrition & sport?

My top tip would be to really make an effort to eat nutrient rich foods and don’t let junk food snacks be a substitute for quality snacks as then you are not getting the nutrients which will help you avoid fatigue and optimize performance; you’re only getting empty calories. E.g. if I’m hungry in the afternoon I make a smoothie with fruits, nut butter, protein powder, spinach, broccoli etc rather than just being lazy and reaching for that pack of chocolate biscuits….

You can follow Laura and the rest of the OTE Fuelled Drops Cycling Team at this years Aviva Womens Tour, find them on twitter at @dropscycling. And after that, we think Laura will deserve that three course meal!

Posted in: General, OTE Fuelled Athletes


Food Friday with George Clark

Name: George Clark

Team: Catford Equipe Banks

What is your go to breakfast before training?

Very Simple, Porridge with milk and either a selection of fruit on top or some Yogurt. To wash it down I love a good cup of Tea or if its going to be a long session a strong coffee!

If you were cooking to impress, what would your signature dish be?

My signature dish would have to be a large steak served with peppercorn sauce, potatoes and a nice selection of veg or salad- simple but tasty!

If you had to pick your perfect three course meal what would it be?

Starter: Roasted Camembert cheese with a nice wholemeal bread to scoop it out!

Main: A large rib eye steak with sweet potatoes fries and a nice fresh salad

Dessert: A fresh fruit salad with a scoop of lemon sorbet to refresh the pallet

What is your favourite OTE product & why?

My favourite product would have to be the Chocolate chip crispy rice Duo bars, they fill me up, taste great and give me a good amount of energy so I’m not reaching for more food or bonking in a hard training session.

You’ve had a tough days training & you deserve a treat, what do you go for?

Normally I would treat myself in the evening so something with peanut butter ice cream would be ace!

What is your top tip when it comes to nutrition & sport?

My top tip would be don’t get to wrapped up in all the online blogs about nutrition and diets. Keep it simple and choose healthy items and reach for the foods that haven’t been processed! I would normally have one treat meal a week (pizza, fish &chips, burger) to look forward to after a hard week of training and racing and enjoy it with the family. At the end of the day you need to enjoy your food otherwise you wont feel good about yourself or train as hard during your sessions.

Thanks for your time George and good luck to you and the team for the rest of the season.

Posted in: General, OTE Fuelled Athletes