Remember last week when I wrote about how I didn’t eat enough and suffered for it for the rest of the day? Well, thanks to feedback from you, comments on Facebook and other conversations – I’m slowly learning and getting this eating and riding thing sorted out. To put it simply – fuel is required when we ask our bodies to do challenging and uncomfortable things on the bike. And even though there are carbohydrates in vegetables and fruit – we need more than this to allow us to ride at our best.
The thing is, I’ve always known this… The problem is I get caught up in reading cooking and food blogs by people who aren’t cyclists… My energy and nutrient needs are different from the food blogger and recipe tester who is not riding his or her bike for two hours or more a day.
As much as I enjoy my morning smoothie I’ve gone back to the good ‘ol bowl of oatmeal. But this isn’t any old bowl of oatmeal. Nope mine has: chia seeds, Bioflavia, ground flax seeds, maca powder, sesame seeds, old-fashioned oats and some kind of fruit (chopped apple or frozen mango/strawberries). I mix it all up, pour a bunch of boiling water into the bowl, zap the mixture in the micro, add more water and let it sit overnight in the fridge. In the morning I add almond milk to this tasty bowl and sit down to slowly eat my bowl of carbohydrate goodness. (For you oatmeal fans – how do you create your tasty bowl of morning breakfast?)
In addition to this oatmeal habit, I’ve started paying closer attention to when I eat and when I ride. This is crucial because we need to give our bodies time to metabolize the food we eat before going out for a ride but we also don’t want to eat too early before riding. I think this really is a personal thing and we each need to determine what works best. Anyway, for me what I’m doing now is if I’ve got an intense afternoon ride to do, I make sure I add some beans, quinoa or rice to my normal veggie stir-fry at lunch. If I’m riding in the morning, I’ll eat a Luna bar about two hours before getting on my bike.
This brings us of course to recovery drinks/food. I posted a question asking about this on Facebook yesterday… (Many thanks to those of you who responded.) The use of a recovery drink/food/meal really seems to come down to how hard the ride was and how long it will before the next “real meal”. Again, everyone is unique in this aspect.
So, this in a nutshell, is what I’ve learned this week. As I start to get into my spring/summer road racing season, I’m sure I’ll learn more to share with you on this topic. It is a tricky thing eating and sport – particularly when we compete in a sport that has us all believing that “thinner is better” – chances are very high we all know a cyclist who has taken this attitude too far and has suffered as a result. So eat your carbs! Eat your veggies and fruit! Get some protein! Eat some fat – your body needs it! And of course eat some chocolate – you deserve it after all. (For some excellent recipes from a pro cyclist, visit Mo Bruno Roy’s website.)