Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cycling Nutrition-my take

I've been cycling seriously for nearly 6 years now, I'm not the speediest of cyclists, but I've done lots of centuries (100 mile rides) and I've managed a crazy ridiculous ride called the death ride, which was a fun experience. Unfortunately I've let this go by the wayside while I've made confections and treats, and its time to get back into the training, I've really missed my bike. I also need a goal to keep me riding decent distances again. I'm signed up for the Solvang Century in March 2010. Its a beautiful ride in Central California and even better, I'll be raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

I thought I'd share a little about what I've learned about nutrition, and a couple of recipes which I like to use for snacks on the road. I've been studying nutrition at the UCSD extension and also as part of my studies at Grossmont college.

One of the most important things I've learned is that everyone is different. Everyones stomach is different and tolerates different foods/drinks, and their metabolisms respond differently too.

When involved in endurance training, one can burn several thousand calories, our entire glycogen store, so it is important to replace this before, during and after riding, otherwise you will experience a 'bonk' where you get really dizzy, angry and strange because your fuel tank is empty.

One of the secrets that not everyone knows is that many of the expensive sports supplements you can buy are a waste of money, and often taste awful, you can do much better with everyday foods. Arnie Baker, an amazing cyclist and cycling coach swears by pop tarts and bagels! One of the exceptions is maltodextrin, a useful supplement to add to your drinks, if you need a lot of calories, especially if you have trouble controlling your glucose levels in your blood, this doesnt have to be expensive if you know someone in the food/science industry.

Most cyclists stock up a little with a decent meal the night before(we call this carb loading), maybe a few extra complex carbohydrates. A good breakfast is very useful too, my favourite is oatmeal (not the instant kind). This keeps me warm for ages on a cool day, and it seems to be metabolized slowly enough to keep me going. Once on the road, a combination of snacks, and a source of glucose in your drink are a good idea. I sometimes put some brown sugar, juice and a pinch of salt in my water bottle, then have some dry gatorade mix to add later. I also have snack bars, usually home made granola bars and protein bars. When things start getting really intense, things like sports gels can be an easy way to get some calories, and some of them have a much needed caffeine boost, although I've found myself chugging a starbucks doubleshot to much the same effect!

Upon finishing a ride, its a good idea to have a snack ready for less than 30 minutes after riding, a decent amount of protein is also useful at this stage. Some people have a burger, a turkey sandwich or chocolate milk. I like to have a slice of cold home-made pizza in a cooler in the car!

Two of my favorite snack recipes are from the foodnetwork. A favorite, which I've photographed here is ellie krieger's energy bars. Tons of nutrition but not too much fat. Maple syrup is really expensive these days so feel free to sub with honey or any other syrup, and this recipe is really easily adapted too!
I also love alton browns protein bars, I usually switch the dried fruit around, and you can switch around the nut butter used, and even add a bit of cocoa powder to make it all chocolatey!
If anyone has any nutrition tips, I'd be happy to hear about them! Please share your wisdom in the comments!

Also, this kicks off my new efforts in getting healthy for the new year. Recipe Girl is starting a project in January, which I'm very happy to get involved in, '10 in 10' where we get together and try and get healthier in the first 10 weeks of 2010.

1 comment:

RecipeGirl said...

Good Luck!! My gosh, here I thought you were going to do a Century Bike Ride for the very first time & it looks like you're quite the cycler. Envy!