What are non-nutrient for cyclists? Although unable to provide energy directly, these foods are valuable and indispensable to life, not only to the cyclist. Examples are vitamins and mineral salts and – of course – water.
Electrolytes and minerals
Electrolytes are substances that the cyclist knows very well. Substances such as sodium, calcium, magnesium, fluorine, phosphorus, iron regulate the chemical reactions that release energy (bioregulatory requirement). They participate in the exchanges between blood and cells and keep the relationship with water in balance. They play a fundamental role in the constitution of bones, muscles, blood and hormones (plastic function).
Electrolytes must be taken daily through water, fruit or vegetables to balance the loss through sweating, urine and faeces. A balanced diet must ensure a balanced supply of mineral salts; their deficiency can cause fatigue, tension and muscle cramps. They can also negatively affect mood, causing nervousness and irritability.
Vitamins are organic compounds essential for the functioning of the body. They are valuable substances for everyone but even more for the cyclist who carries out an activity where he brings the body to an intense and prolonged effort. They perform an essential protective and regulatory function. Mainly present in fruit and vegetables, Vitamins affect many factors in the human body. They act as growth factors, helping hormones work. They strengthen and help maintain nerve structures. They increase resistance to infections and enhance antibodies. They intervene in all organic reactions by controlling biochemical activities. They participate in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates.
Vitamins are therefore essential for all the body’s self-regulation and the balanced assimilation of nutrients.
Water accounts for over 74% of body weight, so it is easy to understand how much important is for life. The human body disperses water throughout the day with faeces and sweating, but also simply breathing. For this, it needs to be replenished through food and drink constantly. The daily water requirement to maintain good health depends on atmospheric conditions and physical activity.
Water or sports drinks? We must be careful with this detail as small or large amounts of added sugar are always present in the drinks commonly on sale. This sugar negatively affects our daily calorie supply and stimulates further thirst. For this reason, things must not be confused, especially for cyclists who have to pedal for hours and still has to contain their body weight.
We therefore understood that the sportsman could not base his diet on nutrients alone and think of filling his tank only according to the fuel necessary for the effort. Vitamins, electrolytes and the right amount of water bring balance to the body and improve the management of nutrients.