Ask the experts: How to fuel your training during COVID-19

With training taking a bit of an odd turn in light of current world events, it can be hard to understand exactly how much training you should be doing or how you should be fuelling it. In order to keep yourself on track, we caught up with Annie Simpson, nutritionist at OTE Sports to find out how we should be managing our nutrition right now.

We all want to emerge from our quarantine race-ready, but to do so we need to make sure we don’t get sidetracked by snacking, which can be harder than you’d like when you’re in the house 24/7. 

“If we want our body weight to stay the same we need to be in energy balance, which basically means energy being consumed = energy being expended,” says Annie. 

If you’ve already started to notice yourself getting a little heavier than usual, it’s time to get serious about your strategy. “To lose weight your body needs to be in a state of negative energy balance, where energy consumed is less than energy being expended. When put like that it seems so simple but sadly we all know it’s not.”


“The best practice for healthy weight loss is to reduce calorie intake by 200-500 kcal at a time. It may take a little longer but by doing it this way your body is not being shocked into starvation, weight loss can be controlled and it will be likely to be longer lasting than using a fad diet,” Annie says. The easiest way to do this would be losing a snack or two (stop reaching for the custard creams) or by reducing your portion size at mealtimes.

However, Annie points out that there’s more to think about than burning those calories. “Just aiming to lose weight isn’t strictly the best approach. When considering your sporting performance it’s always best to reduce body fat but maintain muscle mass. 

Reducing calories by too much or cutting out key food groups can lead to our bodies breaking down our muscles as energy. You will lose weight but with it, you may lose your health and performance too, which is not what we want!”

Annie also points out that much of the quick weight loss seen with fad weight-loss diets is actually just water loss. “This is especially true with diets that cut out carbohydrates, as our bodies store water with carbohydrates,” she explains.

If calorie burning is your goal, we instead recommend adding some interval sessions into your training. These will help increase your metabolism during and after your training. Why not try one of the HIIT workouts on the Wattbike Hub?


Annie has some advice when it comes to carbohydrates, which are often a hot topic when it comes to weight loss. 

“Cutting carbohydrates out of your diet has been found to help you lose weight as your body will use fat as an alternative energy source. But ultimately carbohydrates are needed to fuel exercise, without them you will not be able to train to the best of your ability and achieve the best training adaptations.”

For exercise that includes high-intensity efforts, carbohydrates are essential, however, Annie points out that over-consuming carbohydrates can however contribute to weight gain. “With this is mind why not try to ‘cycle carbohydrates?” she suggests. 

Cycling carbohydrates would mean only consuming high carbohydrate meals when your body is going to use the energy; around your training. 

“This way your body has the energy available to get the most out of the training session and you reap the rewards by recovering properly after.  For rest days or lower intensity training blocks a large amount of carbohydrates aren’t needed, so aim to reduce these or cut out where possible.”

 Ultimately, this will mean your body has to draw upon fat stores for day to day fuelling. But when getting back into training, it’s important to make sure you put the carbohydrates back in beforehand.



Annie adds that consuming more protein will also help with satiety; that fuller for longer feeling. Protein, and particularly an amino acid called leucine, has been found to be pivotal in the maintenance of lean body mass during weight loss. 

Research by well-renowned British Cycling Performance Nutritionist Nigel Mitchell found that when protein makes up 35% of your daily calorie intake, and in combination with exercise, loss of lean body mass was significantly reduced during periods of weight loss compared to when protein only contributes to 15% of daily calorie intake. Annie points out that Leucine can be found in all OTE Recovery Drinks .



Ultimately, it is important to decide on your own training goals and objectives and tailor your nutrition to suit. For example, if you are planning on continuing an intense block of training,  now is actually not the time to restrict calories and lose weight, but if you’re worried that right now you’ll be less active than you were a few weeks ago, maybe considering carb cycling. Focus on optimal nutrition for training adaptations which involves fuelling correctly on and off the bike. 

Annie recommends periodising weight loss so as not to impact greatly on your training or lifestyle. “Remember, weight loss is very specific to an individual whether you are competing, commuting or exercising for fun and not all general advice given will work for everyone. Don’t get hung up on what the scales say, being lighter is not always better for your personal performance and goals. If you feel strong, happy & healthy then chances are that weight is the correct one for you.”

Looking to shift the pounds? Find out more about how indoor cycling can help you burn calories

Visit OTE Sports for more nutrition tips.