When it comes to food, there is a ton of information out there. More information is not necessarily useful information and sifting through it all to find the right cycling nutrition for you can be a tedious task, not to mention confusing. Healthy living is crucial to being a stronger and faster on a bike, and as such, we have compiled the right diet for you.
Carbs are the primary source of energy required for cycling. Carbohydrates are to cyclists what fuel is to vehicles. Carbohydrates are stored in the muscles, with the excess stored as fat. While the amount you take should be dictated by the distance you cover, sports scientists propose an intake of 5-9 grams every day. But the truth is, keeping up with the grams you take can be hard, if not impossible. To have enough energy, aim to eat a fist size portion of slow burn carbs, that is, low-glycemic carbs like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
An example of a proper carb diet is cereal such as oat for breakfast, a piece of fruit at mid-morning and afternoon, a whole-grain sandwich as lunch and preferably some wholegrain rice for dinner.
Traditionally, proteins being muscle foods, were thought to be unnecessary for cyclists but that’s flat wrong. Taking enough protein will help keep a cyclist in peak condition by improving immune functions, recovery, and overall health. Also, recent studies concluded that a portion of protein is more filling that an equal of either carbohydrates or fats, thus, protein intake can help keep your appetite in check too.
A good cycling nutrition should include pulses like beans, lean meat, low-fat dairy products, and fish. With protein, avoid eating too much red and processed meat. Eat a fair share of protein in the morning like custard made with fat-free creamer, substitute eggs and skim milk.
There are good and bad fats for cyclists. The type of fats you consume will directly influence your weight, performance, and overall health. The good fats comprise of polyunsaturated fats (Omega 3 and 6) and monounsaturated fats (Omega 9 fats). Meats and processed meat contain saturated meats which should be avoided. To get a healthy dose of Omega 3 and 6 fats, make sure to include the following in your diet: nuts, seeds, fish and oils like sunflower and flaxseed oils. These fats reduce inflammation in the body – therefore ideal for cyclists with asthma and allergies – and stimulate metabolism which helps in weight loss. Good fats also lower bad cholesterol in the body which reduces the risk of a heart disease. A cyclist should aim for 20g of good fat per day. The best time to take Omega 3 and 6 is during lunch time, for example, eating fish for lunch or dinner, and things like nuts can be eaten casually through the day.
The above foods are of more use to the body if taken in small portions rather than eating in big chunks. A fist sized portion of protein and carbohydrates is good for every meal and few grams of fat.