In the world of endurance sports and professional cycling, nutrition plays a pivotal role in determining an athlete’s performance. Aitor Viribay Morales, the Lead Performance Nutritionist at INEOS Grenadiers Cycling Team and founder of Glut4 Science, is a key figure in this domain. With a rich background in exercise physiology, metabolism, and nutrition, Aitor has been at the forefront of challenging conventional limits and redefining nutritional strategies for elite athletes. In episode 18 of our podcast, we delve into Aitor’s groundbreaking research and explore the profound impact it has on endurance athletes’ physiology and metabolism.

Aitor’s Morales Professional Journey with World Tour Cycling Team

Aitor’s journey in the world of sports nutrition is impressive. With roles ranging from Lead Performance Nutritionist at INEOS Grenadiers to Founder and Director at Glut4Science, Aitor has consistently pushed the boundaries of knowledge. His diverse experience includes serving as the Chief Scientific Officer at xugarhero, as a Physiology Advisor for professional cyclists and triathletes, and as head of the Nutrition Department at Astana – Premier Tech, a UCI World Tour Team.

Research and Discoveries on Exercise-induced Muscle Damage

One of Aitor’s notable research endeavors focused on really high carbohydrate intake in racing, challenging the widely accepted limit of 90g carbohydrate per hour. The study compared performance metrics across different carbohydrate intake groups (60, 90, and 120 grams per hour) and revealed intriguing findings. Athletes in the 120g/h group tolerated this amount of carbohydrate, demonstrated better performance, and experienced significantly less muscle damage.

However, the research also highlighted the delicate balance in high carbohydrate intake, as some endurance athletes faced gastrointestinal challenges, preventing them from completing their races. Aitor’s work highlighted the intricate mechanisms of gastrointestinal glucose and fructose transporters, challenging the assumed saturation limits.

Many Athletes Train the Gut with Exercise Physiologists

Aitor emphasizes the importance of training the gastrointestinal system to tolerate and absorb larger amounts of carbohydrates during exercise. This ability, he suggests, is trainable but requires a gradual progression.

Update your Choices: 60 or 90 g/h?

A critical aspect highlighted in Aitor’s research is the significance of athletes utilizing fats and carbohydrates as precision fuel. High training volume and intensity are key to optimizing mitochondrial function for efficient oxidation of both fat and glucose.

The Case for Going Very High Carb Intake

Aitor’s research holds significant implications for athletes’ dietary strategies, underscoring the pivotal role of levels of carbohydrates in achieving optimal performance. Moreover, the findings suggest that with proper training, athletes can enhance their tolerance and efficient utilization of higher carbohydrate intakes.

Science in Sport and Personal Insights

In addition to his professional achievements, Aitor shares personal insights into his journey. Despite being a “scientific paper kind of person,” he believes in the importance of learning through practice. Nature, outdoor exercise, and spending time on the move are integral to his success. Aitor draws inspiration from Inigo San Millan, further fueling his passion for pushing the boundaries of sports nutrition.

Listen to the ‘Keep IT Healthy’ podcast episode with Aitor Viribay Morales

As we embark on this enlightening episode, we invite you to join us in exploring the intricacies of endurance nutrition. Aitor’s wealth of experience and groundbreaking research promises to shed light on the future of sports nutrition, offering invaluable insights for athletes and enthusiasts alike. Tune in, learn, and be inspired by the journey of a visionary in the world of many athletes’ performance nutrition.

April 04, 2024 — Douglas Koh

Leave a comment