Intensive training: More efficiency through the right nutrition
How to train more efficiently - and reach your goals faster
The competition phase is approaching …
Summer is approaching and with it the start of competitions in many endurance disciplines. Therefore, in this phase of the year, for many athletes it means: the phase of intensive training has begun.
In this article, we’ll use the expert knowledge of Robert Gorgos, who has worked with top athletes for many years, to explain how to train more effectively and get the most out of your workouts through optimal nutrition.
In our blog article on Basic Endurance Training many terms and basics are explained in detail. Since we also want to take “newcomers” along, we explain the most important terms again here and then immediately go deeper into the matter.
Aerobic training is often referred to as basic endurance training. During aerobic training, the oxygen turnover of the body increases and thus the oxygen uptake capacity is trained. The body increases breathing rate and heart rate to the aerobic maximum, often referred to as Vo2max. A targeted combination of calm and intensive training sessions increases endurance performance.
Anaerobic training such as sprinting and strength training can lead to targeted adaptations that result in the critical advantage for competitive performance. Interestingly, targeted strength training, for example, can also improve endurance performance through neural processes.
Anaerobic” training is characterized by high intensity over a short period of time, usually a few seconds to a minute, for example, and should be integrated very carefully into the training process. Because too much can result in a loss of aerobic performance.
Aerobic / anaerobic threshold
The aerobic/anaerobic threshold is at the point of performance where lactate production and lactate breakdown are exactly in balance. The higher the “threshold”, the “faster” you can train without the lactate concentration increasing and the faster you are at endurance loads.
The metabolic profile represents your individual physiological performance. This is about what your base endurance range is and at what intensity you should ride or run intense intervals. In a performance diagnostic, values such as wattages, pace data, heart rate, fat and carbohydrate consumption can be determined. Using modern software, calculations of Vo2max, aerobic/anaerobic threshold and anaerobic performance are also possible.
VO2max is the maximum amount of oxygen that can be absorbed by the body during maximal exercise. In cycling, for example, Vo2max power can be determined approximately accurately via a field test with a powermeter over five to seven minutes duration.
VLamax is the lactate formation rate or anaerobic capacity: the higher the VLamax, the more lactate is formed at a certain intensity of exercise. A “sprinter” usually has a higher rate of lactate formation than a marathon runner because they have to provide a lot of energy in a short period of time and are less efficient than the marathon runner.
What does “intensive training” actually mean?
In principle, the following applies to most sports: the closer the competition, the more specific and intensive the training usually becomes.
However, this also depends on the metabolic profile and this is again very individual.
Let’s take a look at a hobby athlete in cycling: For him, a racing season classically runs from April to October. In the meantime, however, it is no longer just basic endurance that is trained throughout the winter. Instead, there are blocks of intense and calmer workouts.
With an intense workout, many associate the term “HIIT”, which stands for High Intensity Interval Training. Fast, intense sections alternate with slower, calmer ones.
HIIT is basically a form of VO2max training. The aim is to train the highest possible oxygen turnover in the body (see also terms above).
The maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) shows how big your aerobic engine is. A good aerobic fitness (= an improved maximum oxygen uptake) has the advantage that your body has, among other things, a higher maximum fat burning (due to a higher number of mitochondria in the muscle cell) and also a higher individual aerobic/anaerobic threshold. This way, not only will your carbohydrate stores be spared, but ideally, you’ll be able to run or bike at a high level for longer. Your basic endurance will benefit.
The VO2max indicates how many milliliters of oxygen your body can absorb in one minute per kg of your body weight. A professional athlete in cycling can reach a value of around 85 ml/min/kg.
A cross-country mountain bike race or a road race are quasi VO2max training sessions. Because here, easy sections alternate with climbs where the body has to go to the limit and you are usually in the VO2max range.
So if you are planning an intense training block, you should adjust your diet accordingly to get the best benefit from the workout.
From training to nutrition plan
Intensive training should be very well dosed and controlled. For example, you could start with 5 x 2 minutes intensive (e.g. at 90% of the Vo2max or on the bike at 90% of the CP 6) and in between three relaxed minutes as well as ride in for half an hour and out for half an hour. If we stay with the example of the wheel, this can be done very well via the Watts control
This doesn’t require forever long sessions, instead you can slowly increase the length of the intense short sessions.
Watch out: It makes no sense to copy training plans from a professional. For many hobby athletes, this is simply not goal-oriented in everyday life with a full-time job and family obligations.
While it would be possible, that doesn’t mean it would lead to the same result. Because you should always consider your recovery time. And it looks very different for a professional athlete than for someone who might have an hour and a half a day to train.
Therefore, you should constantly question yourself and do the self-check: Do I feel refreshed? Is my training leading to what I want to achieve? Or does it also make sense to take a day off if, for example, everyday life was very stressful?
Realistic for amateur athletes, for example, would be to incorporate this “intense week” into their training schedule:
Tuesday: intensive training
Wednesday: very loose basic endurance training
Friday: strength or athletic training
Saturday: intensive training
Sunday: very loose basic endurance training
Important: Calm training really means a calm workout! Many amateur athletes in particular approach basic endurance training far too quickly and often move in the medium intensity range.
The simple formula applies: You either drive or run smoothly OR fast. We recommend – depending on the sport and individual goals – to train 10-20% of the total training time intensively and 80-90% very calmly.
Studies have shown that you achieve optimal improvement and adaptation when you combine both ranges (Low Intensity & High Intensity) in your training.
Therefore, it is important to include intensive training blocks in addition to basic endurance. This is the only way you can perform your endurance sport at the highest individual level and improve your performance in the long term.
A sample diet during intense training
Optimally prepare the intensive training
In our example, it is advisable to start already on Monday or Friday (i.e. one day before an intensive training) about carbohydrates every three hours every three hours.
Depending on the time of day can be oatmeal, potatoes, rice, pasta, bananas or even or even a carbohydrate bar or a carbohydrate drink be.
It is better to avoid foods that are very high in fiber, such as large quantities of salads or legumes. They have too much volume, are rather difficult to digest and take the “place” for the carbohydrates needed for training.
Also, make sure to limit the amount of fats and proteins: an egg or some nuts in the morning, fish for lunch and some goat cheese in the evening, for example, are absolutely sufficient for protein intake.
On the intense training day itself, the diet looks similar until the session. Let’s assume that the intensive training takes place in the morning. In that case you should eat carbohydrates about three hours before you start your workout. eat to replenish your glycogen stores.
Suitable for this purpose Oatmeal respectively. Porridge or Overnight Oats with banana are very good. It’s best to mix the whole thing with water or a plant milk (oats, almond, rice) to guarantee compatibility.
Feel free to try different meals to find out which food you tolerate best. This way you avoid nasty surprises during the competition.
The catering during the unit
During training, depending on the load intensity and “absorption capacity”, we recommend to supply 40-120 g of carbohydrates per hour. The keyword here is “train the gut”: you should train your digestion to be able to tolerate and absorb the amount of carbohydrates well, especially on race day.
Our recommendation to be ideally supplied during an intense workout: FAST CARB with the ideal combination of glucose and fructose, which the body can absorb very well and quickly (60-90 g per hour).
An alternative is POWER CARB for longer intensive units. Also with this special mixture you can supply up to 90 g of carbohydrates per hour.
In combination with our GEL40 (coming soon!) it is easy to achieve the desired amount of carbohydrates in training and train a competition nutrition situation. For example, up to 120 g of KH per hour can be taken in and absorbed from a combination of FAST CARB and GEL40. GEL40 Matcha can make up the “kick” from natural, evenly released caffeine, as well as improve attention and neural activation.
If you want to know everything about the right food specifically for your sport, we advise you to use our popular fuel calculator fuel calculator.
The regeneration phase: The right nutrition after exercise
Optimal recovery after an intense session is crucial for your performance and ensures training success. Proper nutrition after physical exertion plays an important role in this. Finally, the substances (fluid, energy and nutrients) consumed by training are replenished through food and the “fruits” of training can be harvested.
A balanced diet adapted to needs with a selection of natural foods is a basic requirement for optimal regeneration.
Nutrition during the regeneration phase should focus on rehydration, replenishment of glycogen stores (within the first hours after exercise), and muscle recovery and building should be the central goals.
The carbohydrate requirement is very high in the regeneration phase, and at the same time a high fat intake can delay the regeneration of the glycogen stores. During an intense two-hour session, you may completely deplete your glycogen stores – with corresponding consequences:
Dangers if you do not eat right and pay attention to the diet.
- The training load can lead to muscle damage. This is accompanied by muscle pain, muscle soreness, but also oxidative stress. The risk of infection (e.g. with an infection) is increased.
- You can’t get the most out of training. The goal should be to teach the body to replenish the stores. Because the glycogen store can be trained. Protein biosynthesis requires amino acids. If I do not consume proteins, the corresponding adaptations cannot take place or are delayed.
Use the “Open Window
So the body is very challenged and more vulnerable. But it is also more receptive to nutrients – keyword: open window. The muscle cells are hungry for nutrients, you should definitely take advantage of that!
We recommend, in this window of about an hour after the load, a mixture of proteins and carbohydrates.
You should aim for an intake of 0.2 – 0.3 g protein per kg body weight directly after exercise to optimally stimulate muscle protein biosynthesis.
Pay attention to high quality protein and a high content of essential amino acids. Leucine and glutamine in particular are worth mentioning here.
For this purpose are perfectly suited our RECOVERY SHAKE or (after particularly muscularly demanding units) the RECOVERY 8 , which contains all eight essential amino acids in perfectly available form.
RECOVERY 8 was tested with great success in professional soccer, for example, as well as being used daily for regeneration by Georg Egger and Lukas Baum when they won the legendary Cape Epic MTB stage race.
Not only proteins alone can promote muscle building and recovery. As described, prompt carbohydrate intake after exercise is important to replenish glycogen stores, which is important for your recovery and processing of the workout.
The simultaneous intake of carbohydrates and proteins promotes the regeneration of the stressed muscle cells and training adaptation, indispensable for training success. In this process, rapidly available carbohydrates not only promote the replenishment of muscle and liver glycogen, they also “open up” the muscle cell for the uptake of crucial amino acids.
Quantities of carbohydrates to proteins in the ratio of 3:1 to 5:1 (KH:proteins) are recommended in the immediate postload phase.
In the basic diet on intensive training days, for example, 60 to 65% carbohydrates, 15% proteins and 20 to 25% fats are recommended (with, for example, 3,500 kilocalories/day).
This can accelerate glycogen build-up and stimulate protein biosynthesis in muscle.
As described, you should avoid hard-to-digest foods such as legumes or collard greens the day before an intense session and on the day itself. After a workout, it’s perfectly fine to eat chickpeas or even a salad.
A Dinner after an intensive load – if the day after, a break or quiet unit is pending – could look like this, for example:
- Peppers with millet, rice or quinoa filling
- Sweet potato with mozzarella and salad or vegetables of choice
- Chickpea and carrot stew
The power of fruits
Consequently, it makes sense that athletes pay attention to a balanced diet rich in phytochemicals. Fruits and vegetables, for example, contain polyphenols, tannins and flavonoids, as well as ascorbic acid and carotenoids, all of which have antioxidant properties and can have anti-inflammatory effects without reducing exercise adaptation, as is possible with artificial antioxidants.
There are studies that have investigated the effect of fruits on exercise-induced muscle damage after strenuous eccentric exercise. Here, a reduction of oxidative stress and an improvement of muscle strength could be demonstrated.
Cherries and most fruits and vegetables in general are also high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances, so they should not be missing from your diet.
It is not for nothing that we use the power of nature in our products:Raspberries in FAST CARB, coconut water in POWER CARB HEAT, pineapple in POWER CARB, cocoa and mango in our Recovery Shakes, green tea and mango in our GEL40… a flavoring, as in most commercial sports drinks, just doesn’t have the same effect as the “real” fruit.
You won’t find sweeteners or large amounts of citric acid in our products either, as they can interfere with optimal tolerance for long-term use, lead to digestive problems, and alter the microbiome or intestinal flora.
It is not for nothing that numerous top athletes on the completely natural MoN sports nutrition.
The five most important points in intensive training
- Prepare an intensive session accordingly with the right nutrition (see above: many carbohydrates, well-tolerated foods without a lot of fiber, few fats, doses of proteins).
- Start with full memories
- Nourish consistently during workouts (with up to 120 g of KH per hour).
- Teach your body to convert the carbohydrates (“train the gut”) – especially with regard to your competitions
- Use the power of nature in training and basic nutrition