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Optimizing your performance in Ultra Cycling with Arnaud Manzanini

 Optimizing your performance in Ultra Cycling: Nutrition Guide for Ultra Endurance Cyclists with Arnaud Manzanini

L'ultra cycling pushes the limits of human endurance, requiring a a physical training et mental careful and particular attention to the nutrition. At the heart of this adventure, the nutrition is an essential and yet often neglected pillar to support prolonged effort, maintain constant energy levels and maximize performance. In this universe where every pedal stroke counts, a strategic feeding can be the fuel that propels you beyond your limits. Discover in this article practical advice and detailed information to help you achieve your goals in ultra cycling.


Don't forget, as an athlete, it's not just the nutrition during exercise that you need to worry about. Your daily nutrition will help you be effective et performant, to recover better after your events and have digestive comfort during exercise.

Diet it's like training, this is worked throughout the year to be in healthy !

1)    Nutrition Fundamentals for Ultra Endurance Cyclists: Fuels for Effort

When you get started in theultra cycling, understanding specific nutritional needs becomes as crucial as your physical training. For performer At an optimal level, your body must be adequately fueled.

As we often hear, “to function, you have to put gasoline in the car”. The car is your body and the gasoline is what you put in it, therefore the products you consume. This fuel is composed of essential macronutrients : carbohydrates, protein and lipids.

1.1) The carbohydrates : suppliers energy

The carbohydrates are one of the main sources of energy during long distances. Opt for sources of complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, pasta or fruit for a durable energy.

1.2) The protein : the guarantors of the muscle recovery

The protein play an essential role in the muscle tissue repair damaged during exercise. Foods like chicken, fish, eggs and dairy products provide a good source of protein.

1.3) The lipids : I'reserve energy 

The lipids are an important source of energy for long-term efforts. Opt for healthy fats such as those present in avocados, nuts and vegetable oils for an intake of lipids quality.

1.4) Hydration : The liquid fuel

In addition to macronutrients, L 'hydration is crucial. A adequate hydration is not only vital for the performance, but also for the overall health of the cyclist. Drink water regularly throughout your journey and opt for electrolyte drinks to restore the electrolyte balance lost by sweating. THE electrolytes and in particular the sodium help regulate the volume of water contained in the body. A high quantity of electrolyte allows the body to store more water and therefore promote rehydration. Their presence maintains the acid-base balance. So make sure you stay hydrate even before your race starts.

The balance between carbohydrates, proteins and lipids is the key to optimal nutrition for ultra cycling races. By judiciously planning the contribution of each macronutrient, cyclists can maintain constant energy levels, promote the recuperation and push their limits on the road, kilometer after kilometer.

2)    Nutrition before the test

Precise meal management before the race is crucial. The week before your event it is important to capitalize on the energy reserves while promoting the digestive comfort to the effort. On D-3 and D-2 you can increase your reserves of carbohydrates then on D-1 return to normal consumption because your reserves are made and the goal is not to overload the stomach. You will avoid excess fiber, spicy dishes, alcohol, excess dairy products and gluten if you are sensitive to it. Favor foods rich in complex carbohydrates such as pasta, brown rice, cereals and vegetables. Complex carbohydrates provide a more regular and prolonged release of energy, essential for endurance.

Lhydration is as essential as thefood. Two to three hours before departure, make sure you are well hydrate by drinking adequate amounts of water.


In summary, choose the right ones fuels, respect the timing and make sure you are correctly hydrate to guarantee a optimal performance during the test.

3)    Nutrition during exercise

Caloric intake must be carefully planned to provide the necessary energy throughout the race. THE carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body during exercise, while protein play a key role in the muscle recovery and prevention of tissue breakdown. THE lipids offer an important source of alternative energy for ultra cyclists and require specific management during exercise.

3.1 Solid supplies

On the ultra endurance events, it is recommended to ingest carbohydrates (the portion varies from one individual to another) and to use products richer in protein and lipids to avoid fluctuations in the glucose since you want a diffuse and progressive energy. Here are some product recommendations lipids adapted to these prolonged efforts:

  • Lawyers : High in monounsaturated fats and fiber, avocados provide stable energy and are easy to pack and consume while running.
  • Nuts et seeds : Nuts such as Almonds, cashew nut, and as chia seeds or linen are excellent sources of lipids and protein plants. Mixed nuts can be a portable energy snack.
  • Nut bars et with seeds : Available commercially or homemade, these energy bars made of nuts, seeds, dates and sometimes oatmeal are energy dense and offer a slow release of lipids.
  • Nut butter/purée or seeds : The almond butter, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews or even macadamia, treat yourself! These are options concentrated in fats and protein. On the other hand, avoid peanut butter which contains too much omega 6.
  • Vegetable oils : Oils like olive oil, coconut oil or coconut oil can be added to smoothies, homemade energy bars or dishes to increase intake lipid.
  • Fatty fish canned: Options like Salmon or mackerel canned provide fatty acids omega-3 beneficial for energy and heart health. These canned foods can be handy during long runs.

These products lipids can be eaten alone or integrated into recipes. energy bars, smoothies or dishes adapted to the practice ofultra endurance, thus providing a continuous and necessary source of energy to support these prolonged efforts.

Products have been specifically formulated to meet the needs nutrition for cyclists during prolonged efforts such as:

- The Holyfat bars weak in carbohydrates (between 2g and 4g of carbohydrates per bar) and rich in lipids or Baouw bars (between 12g and 14g of carbohydrates per bar)


Photo credit: HolyFat / Colin Olivero©

- The Holyfat nut purees (several flavors are available), low glycemic index purees 4Ultra (between 5g and 10g of carbohydrates) or even Baouw purees (around 12g of carbohydrates).

Little advice: have regular intake Throughout the event, you should not wait too long before eating. Prefer to small regular portions, rather than a large portion at once to avoid sudden peaks and drops.

3.2 Hydration during the event

During long distances, the body loses important electrolytes by perspiration. Specific supplements containing mineral salts such as sodium, Potassium and magnesium can help prevent dehydration and muscle cramps, thus maintaining the balance electrolytic essential to the performance.There are many brands offering electrolytes. For example, you can consume electrolytes either powder in holy fat, or in the form of pellet in Ta Energy. There are many flavors, choose the one you like best! Be vigilant about the dosage and Ingredients.







photo credit: Holyfat / TA Energy

here are some key strategies to maintain a optimal fluid balance throughout your race:

  • Establish a planhydration : Determine the amount of water to consume per hour based on weather conditions and the intensity of the effort.
  • Use electrolytes : Isotonic drinks or tabletselectrolytes help prevent Dehydration and to restore the balance of mineral salts lost during exercise. You can also use light soups and broths which are excellent for replenishing sodium and liquids.
  • Listen to your body : Learn to recognize signs of dehydration such as excessive thirst, dry mouth or muscle cramps.

Always test your nutritional strategy à training and get used to the products you will consume during the test. This will avoid surprises and digestive problems during exercise, to fully benefit from your ultra ! We are all different so listen to your body and adapt your food Consequently.

In summary, a strategic feeding during the test is essential to maintain a consistent performance. Pay attention to your hydration, manage your supplies carefully and adjust your food based on your body’s signals to make the most of your ultra !

Summary table



From 30g to 90g/h

We can say as loudly as possible without feeling nausea or stomach or digestive problems.


Between 500mL/h and 800mL/h.

You can take 2 bottles with you and above all always have a safety margin of 500mL.


500 mg of sodium per hour of effort is sufficient

These 500mg are distributed over solid nutrition and hydration (between 500 to 800mL of liquid/hour)

ATTENTION 1g of salt corresponds to 0,4g of sodium

*The recommended amounts of carbohydrates during an ultra cycling event vary depending on several factors, including the duration of the event, intensity, individual metabolism and digestive tolerance. However, in general, aiming for a carbohydrate intake of around 60 to 90 grams per hour is a common benchmark for maintaining energy levels during prolonged endurance activities.

**To be adapted according to the outside temperature and each person


4)    Post-exercise recovery and nutrition

After crossing the finish line of a competitionultra cycling, the phase of recuperation becomes essential to promote the muscle repair, restore energy reserves and accelerate the overall recovery from the body. Some stratégies promote this recovery and help minimize the effects of post-exercise fatigue.

4.1 Balanced post-race meal:

After the effort, a complete meal et balanced is essential to restore energy reserves and promote muscle repair. It should include a combination of carbohydrates to replenish glycogen, protein for muscle recovery and vegetables or fruits for micronutrients.

4.2 Recovery snacks:

Simple but effective snacks can speed recovery. Protein shakes, bananas, yogurt or energy bars adapted to the recuperation can provide essential nutrients while being easily digestible.

4.3 Importance of continuous hydration:

Even after the race, maintain a adequate hydration is crucial. Of the electrolyte drinks or simply from the water with a pinch of salt can help restore the balance of electrolytes lost during exercise.

4.4 Anti-inflammatory foods:

Some foodstuffs have anti-inflammatory properties anti-inflammatory natural, helping to reducemuscle inflammation post-exercise. Berries, avocados, fatty fish rich in omega-3 such as salmon or flax seeds are good choices to promote recuperation.

4.5 Rest and quality sleep:

Le repos is as important as the nutrition for recuperation and a quality sleep allows the body to regenerate. Establish a routine regular sleep is crucial to promoting recuperation and repair of muscle tissue.

4.6 Massage and stretching:

Combine the nutrition with regular massages and Stretching can help release muscle tension, improve blood circulation and to promote the recuperation.


By emphasizing a suitable diet and integrating these recovery strategies in your post-race routine, you can minimize the time of recuperation, reduce the risks of injury and prepare yourself for the next challenge with better physical condition. A holistic approach to recuperation, combining nutrition, repos et soins du corps, is essential for an optimal return to training and competition.

5)    Questions - Answers with Arnaud Manzanini

Arnaud is an entrepreneur with many hats, creator of “Ultra Talk” podcast which has existed since 2018 and host of the podcast “In the head of a cyclist”. He is also co-founder of the Grimpeur cycling café in Lyon and creator of the Race Across France. His practice ofultra cycling for several years has enabled him to acquire a great experience across the Race Across America (finisher in 2013 and 2015). It is the Frenchman Christophe Blanchard who has the best time since June 2023, succeeding Arnaud. The latter also has several cross-country crossings to his credit and recently a polar expedition! Arnaud Manzanini answers our questions and provides you with valuable advice.

What would you advise to someone who is doing their first ultra cycling event?


For a first ultra cycling event, I recommend feeling physically ready, which requires a minimum of training for an enjoyable experience. Avoid starting too quickly, even if you feel energized at first. Having a plan A and plan B for eating is crucial, one plan for when things are going well and another for when things get tough.


Are there any differences in diet between day and night during a test?


In my opinion, there are no big differences in diet between day and night, but you have to be careful not to consume too large a meal at the end of the day, which could make it easier to fall asleep. It can be beneficial to have a boost of energy around 23 p.m. to overcome the “sleep wall.”


What is your worst nutritional mistake during an ultra?


My worst mistake was overindulging in sugary food, leading to high blood sugar, which turned out to be terrible for my performance.


What is your favorite refreshment? The one you always want even when things aren't going well ;)


My favorite combo to get back on my feet is pizza + flan + coffee. It's what gives me energy, even when I'm not feeling my best.


How do you deal with digestive issues?


I pay attention to the signs and to my little inner voice which alerts me at the first signs of digestive problems. I usually interrupt my diet, even if it means reducing my diet, and hydrate with cool sparkling water.


How do you choose your energy products?


I favor energy products based on their caloric intake, taking into account my effort, the duration of the event and the quantity I must consume.


What Holyfat products do you use during your tests?


I like to start with a Cocoa Salt bar, then I alternate with energy purees, varying between salt and sweet flavor.


What is your favorite product if you had to choose just one?


My favorite energy puree is the one with coffee taste. This is my go-to if I had to choose just one.




En ultra cycling, nutrition is an essential link in achieving the performance goals. By combining a optimal hydration, an adequate balance of macronutrients and specific dietary strategies, parking for cyclists can maximize their endurance and their efficiency. For optimize your performance during your next ultra, You can experiment et customize your nutritional plan by also contacting a dietician or nutritionist.


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