Dr. Tim Podlogar: Sports Nutrition for Time Trials

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It's all about glycogen!
Dr. Tim Podlogar: Sports Nutrition for Time Trials

We keep talking about long endurance exercise, in which a proper fueling strategy, aka the intake of carbohydrates and minerals, is essential.

But what about time trials?

Since time trials are short events of maximum intensity, is fueling still required? Can you tackle this challenge without any nutrition?

Dr. Tim Podlogar has the answers!

Energy requirement during time trials

This should not come as a surprise — time trials and other extreme-intensity events shorter than 30 minutes rely heavily on your body's glycogen stores.

What is glycogen?

In short, glycogen is glucose stored in your muscles and liver that your body uses as its preferred source of energy during intense exercise. 

Endurance athletes use a nutritional strategy called carb-loading to fill their glycogen stores as much as possible before an intense prolonged training session or race. This requires an intake of 10 to 12 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body mass in the last 24-36 hours before the event.

However, time trials do not necessarily require full-on glycogen loading, so 8 to 10 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body mass should suffice.

You can still do a proper glycogen loading, but especially in uphill time trials, this might not be desired as storing more glycogen also means more water storage and higher body mass. This body mass would have been functional in longer events where glycogen stores would get depleted, but in time trials, of shorter duration, this would not offer any additional benefit.

Your performance in time trial events relies heavily on your glycogen stores.

Sodium bicarbonate for time trial events

Time trials are all about extreme-intensity well above our functional threshold power.

And what supplement is best to improve this?

If you answered sodium bicarbonate, you must have done your homework.

As you apparently know, sodium bicarbonate is one of the most researched supplements in sports, and it has been used for ages by endurance athletes to increase their endurance during short bursts of extreme intensity.

Sodium Bicarbonate in SportsDo you want to improve your performance in time trials? Use sodium bicarbonate!

But don't just go stuffing down sodium bicarbonate. Read our ingestion protocol first!

Sodium bicarbonate is a great supplement to improve your time trial performance.

Beta-alanine for time trial events

There is an alternative to sodium bicarbonate. It's called beta-alanine.

Beta Alanine and Histidine for Time TrialsBeta Alanine with Histidine is another great supplement to increase your endurance.

Beta-alanine is an amino acid that increases the levels of carnosine in your muscles, which in turns helps to prolong time to fatigueincreases muscle strength and explosiveness, and boosts your endurance during intense exercise bouts.

Beta-alanine really shines in time trial events, but it needs to be taken as per the protocol over the months leading to the time trial event. If you were hoping you can simply take beta-alanine before the event and fly like a rocket, that's unfortunately a no-go.

Beta-alanine is another great supplement, but unlike sodium bicarbonate, you need to start taking it months prior to the event.

Warm-up for time trials

Have you ever seen a tiger warming up? Well, unless you're a tiger, we definitely recommend you warm up properly.

But warming up is not just about getting your muscles ready for action, it's also about providing it with proper fuel.

Before you start warming up, we recommend you ingest one Nrgy Unit Gel. If caffeine is your thing — and if you're looking for top performance, it definitely should be — you can ingest one Nrgy Unit Gel with Caffeine instead. Or drink a bunch of coffee, if that's what you prefer.

During the warm up, consume a sports drink. If you are loading up on sodium bicarbonate, use Nrgy Unit Drink Buffer, otherwise a normal Nrgy Unit Drink will do.

The Best Isotonic Sports DrinksChoose your source of energy.

In the last 5 to 10 minutes before the event, take another Nrgy Unit Gel.

With or without caffeine? Both are fine. But keep in mind that if you want to get the best out of caffeine, you should ingest about 3 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body mass. If that sounds like a lot, you can also use caffeine pills to reach the required intake.

During the event itself, no carbohydrates are required other than mouth rinsing. Have half a bottle of Nrgy Unit Drink with you and take a few sips if the event is longer than 20 minutes.

Warming up for time trial events also requires taking care of your fueling — choose between energy gels, sports drinks, and versions with caffeine!


Although time trial events are short, they still rely heavily on your glycogen stores, so you should fill them properly, but you don't have to go all in as with longer endurance events.

Sodium bicarbonate and beta-alanine are both great to increase your endurance during sprints. But be sure to follow the correct ingestion protocols.

Before the event, have some energy gels and sports drinks to prepare your glycogen stores for the race.

Another way to improve your performance is with caffeine. Use energy gels with caffeine, caffeine pills, or simply drink coffee from a cup like a regular person who has no clue how to dominate a time trial event. Just saying.

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