As an avid cyclist, I know the value of staying in peak conditioning, including the foods necessary to maintain strength, flexibility, and energy levels. Before I had gathered all of this information, I received help over the years from nutritionists, racing analysts, and other cyclists that directed me towards the best ways to fuel up before a practice and competitions. By following these simple guidelines, you can ensure that you also get the most out of your cycling experience.
Most people already know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and sometimes, I like to begin the day by making a perfect shot of nutrients using my blender to increase my protein intake. As staples for endurance athletes, there are a variety of vegetables and fruits that ensure you receive the necessary nutrients to reap the full benefits. The best thing about variety is that you know that you can always switch up the flavors so that you can manage to drink shakes for breakfast and even throughout the day. At the end of the day, you want fruits and vegetables that are affordable, easily accessible, and tasty.
The Pre-Ride Breakfast
Before a race or practice, I sometimes eat foods together that will seem strange to outsiders. For example, I’ve been known to eat spinach and peanut butter sandwiches because of the high fat and protein content they provide. With this kind of staying power, you will remain fueled while on the roads, with no stomach issues and above all else, it actually tastes delicious! But for those not a fan of one or the other, you can opt to put your vegetables in a smoothie instead. I like spinach because of its versatility and it blends well.
The Light Breakfast
Everyone knows about yogurt, but specifically Greek yogurt – which is loaded with nutrients, goes great with honey and/or fruit added, plus it packs a powerful protein punch that keeps you satiated for a few hours at least.
Maintaining Hydration While Cycling
Sports drinks should be decent enough to replace electrolytes and fluids while you are sweating. This is a key component to avoiding dehydration while cycling and also reduce cardiovascular strain. What you don’t want are drinks loaded with coloring agents, emulsifiers, preservatives, and other artificial sweeteners that will impede absorption of nutrients. I prefer sports drinks that have less than 4 grams for every 100 ml and at least a sodium content that is around 350mg with few other ingredients. You definitely want to have a drink that tastes good because you will probably have it for the duration of your cycling.
The Snack Mid-Ride
You will find that you need to keep a lot of food with you on the road to keep your energy levels up, and what is also important is ensuring the foods don’t affect your intestines and increase gastrointestinal stress. You may also want to check into prepackaged bars for added protein. They are easy to digest and very easy on the stomach.
Think potatoes. So versatile, you can prepare them a variety of ways and add other vegetables to them to elevate protein intake, including good fats, minerals, vitamins, and much more.
For dinner, the best evening meal consists of fish or chicken and lots of vegetables again. Foods that I prefer include tuna, salmon, sardines, and herring, all of which provide omega-3 fatty acids that are great for overall health.