Interview: Power girl Emily Miazga

A chat about endurance nutrition

Emily Miazga of Em’s Power Cookies is a three time winner of the famous Coast to Coast Multi-sport event in New Zealand and holds a Masters in clinical nutrition. As a former practicing dietician and elite ultra-endurance athlete, Em has the right background to know how to fuel the body for best results.

 Em was in Australia supporting fellow Kiwi - Kim Hurst, who managed a second place at the WEMBO 24 hour solo mountain bike world championships. We sat down with Em to discuss nutrition basics for those looking to fuel themselves for long rides.   

On common mistakes in endurance nutrition

“Too much caffeine, too much protein and too many energy gels. This all leads to stomach upset early on that’s commonly seen in long events. It’s all about finding the right balance for the rider.

Sports gels are great for topping up energy needs, but shouldn’t be the primary form of nutrition. Your intake needs to be balanced with hydration and real foods. I say caffeine should be used in the last third of a longer endurance event but avoided before.

I used to love a bit of Coke Cola in the final stages, great combination of sugars and caffeine allowed that final surge. I like it with a bit of fizz, others will need it flat and watered down, experiment with it well before the day of the event.”

On using hydration as a form of energy

“I’m a fan of getting energy from a sports drink or similar during the event. I’m not talking about canned energy drinks, but rather hydration based drinks that are usually sold as powder. It’s killing three birds with one stone – you’re getting your sodium, carbohydrate and fluid. But this cannot meet all your needs.  It needs to be had in conjunction with gels and real food, such as a banana, energy bar or sandwich."

On riding a first 100km sportive ride or similar

“It all starts with a solid breakfast, one to four hours before is best. I usually aim for two hours and that works well for me. You want to eat healthy and nothing too high in fibre, protein or fat. It needs to be good on the gut or you’re asking for troubles.

 Once you get going, you need to start with your hydration – about 20 minutes in. For my ironman and other ultra-endurance athletes I get them into an event nutrition regime. For most, it’s every hour they consume something and they do this until they cross the finish line.

For an example, every hour I’d have an athlete drink a bottle of sports drink and either have a gel or piece of food. The food is really important and I strongly recommend something low G.I for sustained energy. I think of it as a log on the fire, your aim is to keep the fire going for as long as needed.  

Keeping yourself feeling full is a huge physiological enhancer too. Nothing worse than feeling an empty stomach and starting to think you’re running out of steam. Eat something that will settle your stomach, give you energy and make yourself feel like you’ve actually eaten something.”

On post-ride recovery food

"You want to eat something within 30 minutes afterward the ride. For most people, the ideal is 10-20g of protein and 1.2g of carb per kilo. For an example, this is just under 80g of carbs for a 60kg rider.

My favorite post ride food is a smoothie – it’s quick to make and delicious. I use two frozen bananas (peeled before freezing), handful of brazil nuts, a large tablespoon of peanut butter, almond butter, 500ml of rice milk and a good glob of honey. Blended all together and its everything I need.

Protein bars are OK but often lack the needed carbs. High G.I carbohydrates are really good, they stimulate quick blood sugar conversion and positive insulin response which leads to great things such as testorone to stimulates recovery."

On those who suffer muscles cramps

“Train more.

It’s fatigue, obviously make sure you’re properly hydrated, but it’s about being prepared for the event. If it’s cold, that can make it worst. But in summary, drink and ride your bike more.”

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