I think it’s totally appropriate for me to write about cycling nutrition having just eaten the better part of a piece of cheesecake after dinner. Heck, if that was the nutrition plan everyone would sign up! I’d be rich … and fat – very, very fat.
Here’s some basic tips for good diet to enhance your athletic performance.
WHAT NOT TO DO:
- Stop eating fast food. It’s deadly toxic and full of ‘bad’ calories. Stop. Now. Did you watch the movie Super Size Me?
- Stop drinking sodas. Don’t whine – just HTFU and get over your sugar addiction. The sugar (or worse: fake sweeteners) in sodas combined with a nasty blend of chemicals will play havoc with your system.
- Stop eating anything you find in the ‘snack food’ isle at most standard grocery stores. I don’t care if you love yellow dye #30: most all generic snack foods are awful and full of substances masquerading as edible items. If it’s not 100% organic and you can’t pronounce all of the ingredients, just back away.
- Don’t even consider eating anything that has a shelf life of several years. Can’t be good for you. Forget about it. No Little Debbie snack cakes. Sorry Debbie.
- Don’t think you can cycle well after getting knee-deep in alcohol the night (or day) before. It isn’t going to happen. Sure, you can ride your bike with a hangover, no problem. I don’t want to be behind you on the ride. The good news is: if you can make it, after at least 30 miles you begin to sweat most of it out of your system. Drink a lot of water with electrolytes while cycling and stay away from me.
- Don’t think you can eat just anything you want because you rode over 50 miles. Pat yourself on the back and pass up the deep fried section on the menu. Check out what a well-balanced diet is – you may be surprised that it’s not all ‘lean’ everything, but fried food didn’t make the cut.
- A Burger a Day will not keep the Doctor away. It’s hard, I know, fat tastes SO good. Endurance athletes need to eat more fat than you might think, but it’s important to learn which fats. Moderation is key. However: moderation in anything else I just listed doesn’t work – except alcohol. Beer might actually be a good ride recovery drink!
WHAT TO DO:
- Eat a well-balanced diet. Remember the food pyramid from when you were a kid? Starches (energy), proteins (build muscle), and vegetables (minerals & vitamins). Don’t forget about one of them – you need all three, like the Three Musketeers.
- Grilled Stuff is Good! Grilled meat is good. Especially lean meat and fish. For example: wild caught salmon is rich in nutrients, the right oils, and good protein. Grilled and sautéed veggies are nice, but pass on the extra butter. Butter isn’t exactly a good fat even if it’s all natural grass-fed sourced butter.
- Complex Carbs are an excellent source of energy. I am acutely aware of this since I am allergic to grain. Sweet potatoes are your friend! They don’t spike your blood sugar and give you a sustained energy source. More on my Sweet Potato Cycling Cake Recipe.
- Get Grainy! Try whole wheat or ancient grains: spelt, farro, kamut, chia, and quinoa (pronounced “keen-whaa”). Leave the white bread on the shelf. White potatoes are ok, but are short-term energy source and tend to spike your blood sugar and get stored in your fat cells like other simple carbohydrates. Pigging out on the loaded baked potato all the time won’t help you much.
- There are Good Fats and Bad Fats – learn which is which and go on a date with a good fat for a change. We are always attracted to the bad ones, aren’t we?
- Figure out your average calorie out-put and put in just under what you expended through exercise if you want to lose weight. If you want to remain the same weight – put in just about what you put out. How to keep track of your calories? I’m sure there’s an app for that.
- Moderation, moderation, moderation. Look, you can eat a wide variety of foods, just stay away from the obvious bad items and don’t eat a quart of ice cream in one go. Some cyclist obsess about every calorie. I don’t hang out with those people and I’m pretty sure I offend all of them. A bit of cheesecake every now and then is perfectly fine.
Now that I’ve covered the basics – if you’re brave enough to get into what a serious cycling diet consists of Stay Tuned for More!
Cheers and Cycle On!