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Eat up! Nutrition for cycling events

Hot Read Hot read Jun 20

With the summer here and the season of long distance cycling events, getting involved in a big ride is a great goal to help keep yourself motivated.

One of the biggest differences between regular riders and successful endurance riders is good nutrition for cycling in the lead-up to a big ride. A good rule of thumb is to ‘Start as you mean to go on’ this means setting your body up with a great foundation so you don’t fall in a heap halfway through your ride/race. Also, don’t try to eat anything new on the big day. Go with what your body knows. Here’s some great tips for building up to the big ride.

Build your endurance foundation with protein rich foods
When preparing for your ride, ensure you’re giving your body good quality fuel by eating well and drinking plenty of water and electrolytes. We know that carbs are necessary to give us energy, but protein is also critical for getting the body fuelled up.

Some of the most easily digestible forms for quick absorption are:

1. Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, borlotti beans, navy beans and cannellini beans – they’re super easy to add to meals to pack a protein punch

2. Eggs

3. Tofu or tempeh (another soy product).

4. White fish

5. Chicken

6. Quinoa is a perfect protein and is readily available in the health food sections of all supermarkets. It is cooked in the same way you would cook rice

Be aware red meat is very heavy, so it takes the body a very long time and lots of precious energy to digest. This steals energy away from where you need it most.

Quality carbohydrates are critical for sustained energy while cycling
Carbs are the fuel our body prefers to burn, which is why you crave them when you are really hungry or tired. They give us our ‘quick fix’ and energy hit. Carbs and sugars are converted into glucose which is what fuels every single cell in your body. Make sure that you’re consuming good quality carbs and not empty ones.

Good sources of complex carbohydrates include:

1. Vegetables, which are chock-a-block full of awesome carbohydrates that your body will thank you for

2. Brown rice

3. Wholemeal, spelt, dark rye or sourdough breads

4. Oats and porridge

5. Wholemeal pasta

6. Wholemeal, buckwheat or brown rice flour

A good mix of carbs and protein is important. Ideally, you should be consuming carbs and protein in a four to one ratio immediately before and during your big ride.

Fats and oils are also important building blocks in a good diet
Fats and oils are not your enemy, they are your friend! Every single cell has a protective outer coating of fat.

Some excellent fats and oils include:

1. Coconut oil has a very high oxidative point which means it can be heated to very high temperatures without its molecular structure being destroyed.

2. Rice bran oil is great

3. Olive oil has a very low oxidative point so it’s not great when heated. It’s best used at room temperature. Drizzle it onto salads, steamed veggies or add to food at the end of cooking when pan is off the heat.

4. Flaxseed oil also has a low oxidative point so use it in the same way as olive oil. It has a very pleasant nutty flavour which is great in smoothies or added to salads, veggies, etc.

5. Avocados are very high in fats that are great for you! They’re brilliant and contain every vital nutrient required for a happy healthy body, eat them… a lot!

Hydration is probably the most important bit of nutrition for cycling

Our bodies are made up of between 60-70% of water. When we sweat, we are sweating out water so it is imperative that we replace it!

A good rule of thumb is to aim to drink 2 litres of water each day, but you’ll drink more if you are training and sweating a lot. We can survive for weeks without food but only days without water, so bottoms up!

Enjoy good cycling nutrition and have a great ride!
Following these tips will ensure you arrive for your ride in tip top condition. Your body will be in optimal order, allowing you to focus completely on your mindset and ride plan.

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