Daily cycling news and cycle equipment reviews,bicycles,cycling exercise and bicycle warehouse from cycling magazine.


Post Top Ad

Monday, 17 July 2017



IT’S NOT THE NUMBER OF CALORIES CONSUMED, BUT HOW YOU consume them. Counting calories is an outdated form of knowing if you’re eating too little or too much, and not very effective for your best cycling performance. Instead, start thinking of food in terms of what it can do for your body. On the bike, it gives you energy; off the bike, it helps your muscles and nervous system repair and rebuild for the next ride.
Some foods work better for fuel, others are great at helping you restore. Most importantly, as with bicycles, you want to grab the right component for the job at hand. It’s less of a matter of “this is bad” or “this is good” than it is “this is a better fuel for storage, this is a better fuel for repair, and this is a better fuel for the next twenty miles.” One of the best things about road cycling is that you can eat almost anything; it’s just a matter of when, where, what, and how much.


Carbohydrates are where the magic is hidden—your main source for energy to burn for a body on the go. When you consume them, they are processed into glucose—a sugar that your blood carries to the muscles so that their cells can convert it into energy. Eat more than you’re currently able to burn and your body will turn that glucose into long-term storage: fat.
Cyclists need carbs to get them through rides. This is the gas in your proverbial tank. However, not all carbs are built alike.
There are those that are complex. Some, like potatoes, bread, rice, and pasta, are what we often define as starches and are what usually come to mind when you hear the word “carbohydrate.” When you think of a starch, it’s usually a faster-burning fuel. Whole grains—oats, quinoa, brown rice—are also complex, but have more fiber and protein that release a slower, more even burn of energy.
There are also simple carbs like honey and sugar. What we typically think of as “sweets” are quickly converted to glucose because they are already essentially another type of sugar—which is also why they’re easier to pack on the pounds with. Simple carbs also tend to have the least nutritional value. They are your body’s straight source of octane, great for surges of energy, when you need to put the pedal to the metal.
Then there are foods that we don’t typically identify as being carbs, because we don’t see them next to the bread and pasta on the food pyramid. This includes milk (a simple carb), whole fruits (not juice or fruit sugars), vegetables, and legumes like beans or peas (complex carbs). Fruits, veggies, and beans are great because they’re full of energy as well as fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Looking over the list above, it’s clear to see that getting enough carbohydrates in your diet will usually never be a problem.
As a cyclist, you need every type of carbohydrate—but the key is to know what type and when to consume for the best energy source. Typically, slow–burning complex carbs are best at the dinner table. Starchy complex carbs (white rice, bread, or potatoes) are good on the bike as a medium-burning fuel to keep you running strong. If you’re on an epic journey, or need to put out a hard effort for a short period of time, reach for the simple sugars your body can use quickly. Otherwise, choosing the carbs that are the least processed is usually the best.


If carbs are the fuel for your engine, protein is the lubricant: Without it, you’ll burn out, no matter how much gas you have. Many people relate protein to bulking up—perhaps bodybuilders, football players, and power-based sports enthusiasts come to mind—but cyclists need it just as much, if not more so. And unlike carbs, your body can’t store much protein for later use, so you need a consistent supply in your diet.
Although carbs are your primary source of energy, your body also utilizes a small but integral amount of protein to keep you pedaling strong—especially when your blood sugar is running low. Without it, your efforts will feel more arduous while your performance will decrease. More importantly, the hours you spend pedaling the bike—pushing up hills and chasing down your friends—do a number on your muscles. Your body needs protein to recover and rebuild so all that effort succeeds in making you stronger for your next ride. After riding, protein works to maintain and repair those hard-working muscle fibers and helps boost immunity. Without it, all your riding effort could be wasted.
Protein is also a primary brain food (so including it in your diet keeps you sharp) and helps suppress your appetite while revving up your metabolism because it takes more energy to digest. During endurance activities—like road cycling—it also lends itself to protecting vulnerable tissues and is critical for building up your immune system.
There are 20 different amino acids that can make up proteins, but foods that are protein-rich don’t necessarily have all of them. Proteins are broken down into two groups: complete and incomplete. A complete protein contains all the essential amino acids your body needs for building, maintaining, and repairing muscles, and much more. Complete proteins include animal products—meat, dairy, and eggs—and soybeans.
Incomplete proteins are missing a few of the essential amino acids but make up for it by having higher levels of others. To get enough protein, you want to eat lots of other foods containing the complimentary amino acids. Incomplete proteins come from plant-based foods such as nuts, grains, and beans (although some, like the grain quinoa, are a complete protein on their own). It used to be thought that you needed to buddy up an incomplete protein with a complete one to make it whole. We now know that if you eat a wide enough variety of foods, it will still be enough—which is how vegetarian and vegan athletes are able to perform so well.

Fat Facts

The big “F.” Fat is usually the bad guy—the villain of the story looming at our dinner table. Our culture cringes at the word when in fact we should embrace it. True, too much of some fats can foster disease and pack on pounds, ultimately decreasing our life expectancy. But a lot of fats are kinds that won’t make us “fat,” but instead are important sources of energy, full of essential types of acids that help our bodies stay healthy and protect us from disease. Not only that, but research has shown that athletes who include healthy fats as one-third of their daily diet are able to keep their stamina longer than those who eat a low-fat, higher-carb diet. They also tend to be leaner and have better immunity than those that follow a low-fat, high-carb diet.
What has fat ever done for you? For starters, it’s an excellent source of fuel. Your muscles need more than just carbs and proteins, so adding fat to the mix gives you a third method of balancing your delicate glycogen stores and helps your body pedal at varying intensities so you can cycle longer without spiking and dropping your blood sugar levels. As your body becomes more fit from cycling, it also becomes a more efficient fat burner. Not only does this give you the ability to cycle longer and harder without crashing from low blood sugar, but it also keeps you from feeling as hungry.
Without fat, we can’t absorb those cancer-fighting, immune-boosting antioxidants. You would also have a hard time producing or storing the estrogen and testosterone that help balance your nervous system and build nerve tissue if you were fat-free.
Here’s what Dr. Stacy Sims has to say about our friendly fats: “Eating a diet containing a moderate amount of plant and nut sources of fat will not only improve your performance, but will also boost your immune system, help with muscle recovery, maintain even energy levels, and help you lean-up. The key to eating fat is that it increases satiation, thus you end up craving less sugar and other simple carbs and reducing cortisol (a.k.a. the belly-fat hormone) and overall body fat conservation. Word to the wise—choose ‘natural fat’ (avocados, nuts, seeds, olives) and avoid fat with sugar. The combination of fat with sugar increases your cravings for sugar, reducing the goodness of ‘natural fat.’”
Like carbs and proteins, there are a variety of different kinds of fats out there, some of which are more helpful than others. Monounsaturated fats are sourced from nuts, avocados, and the oils of olives, canola, and nuts. Polyunsaturated fats are the rock stars of fatty acids, especially omega-3. These fatty acids have been shown to protect against some of the worst diseases plaguing Americans—like heart disease and diabetes—and might actually deter unhealthy fat storage. The best sources of fatty acids can be found in fish and flax seeds (which have become abundant on store shelves and in breakfast cereals).
Saturated fats have been recently redeemed after being singled out for years as bad guys. Found mostly in meats and dairy, they are what make everything from butter to cheese to lard so darned tasty—and the culprit behind the popular culinary trends in dishes like bone marrow, bacon, and foie gras. Although they aren’t quite as evil as we were led to believe, you should still eat them in moderation since they can increase your risk of heart disease. The exception to this is coconut oil, which is plant-derived; scientists have discovered it acts more like an unsaturated fat in your body.
Finally, the lowlife of the family, trans fats. These kinds of fats should be avoided at all costs. Sound a little alarmist? Trans fats have been found to be the leading cause of artery hardening and clogs, and promote weight gain—even if you’re not actually eating any extra calories. These are the cause of the dreaded inner tube of belly fat that increases your risk for heart disease and diabetes. Purely man-made and the poster child for overprocessing, they’re created when you take a natural oil and hydrogen gas and solidify them together. If your ingredients include “hydrogenated oil,” you’re eating something that’s so alien to your body that your digestive system freaks out and sends them straight to your bloodstream. Not good. If you do eat processed foods (and who doesn’t, here or there?), make sure you read the labels. They’re most often found in margarines, cookies, snack cakes, chips, crackers, and all that stuff that has been dialed in for deliciousness without a thought to our well-being.

Vitamins and Minerals

Although carbs, proteins, and fats keep your engine running, building up and maintaining your whole body as a fine-tuned machine takes a little more. Although taking a multivitamin can sometimes be helpful, these only account for a small segment of the nutrients your body needs. The beauty of whole foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and other unprocessed foods) is that they go beyond supplying the basic nutrients that can be packaged into a pill.
One example is carotenoids, the most famous of which is beta-carotene. There are more than 500 different carotenoids that have been discovered, and scientists are always finding more. Inside the plant, these colorful compounds that give veggies their red, orange, and yellow colors help to photosynthesize light. In our bodies, they work together to create immune-boosting and disease- and inflammation-fighting combinations.
One surefire way of making sure you have enough is to keep your diet colorful. Red foods—cherries, tomatoes, and watermelon—can protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays. Blue foods—beets, berries, red onion, and cabbage—can have an anti-inflammatory effect, promote circulation, and are chock-full of muscle-repairing antioxidants. Green foods—kale, broccoli, and spinach—can supercharge your body to help your blood carry more oxygen to your muscles, which keeps them from fatiguing and helps them bounce back after a hard day of riding. No matter where they fall in the rainbow, at the end of the day the key to helping your body do the best job possible is consuming a wide variety of fruits and veggies that will give you the best chance at getting all the nutrients you need.


Protein isn’t the only thing that can make you feel full. Fiber, the indigestible part of plants, is one thing you want to have plenty of in your diet.
Insoluable fiber, found most often in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, does not break down in water, but instead absorbs it, swelling in your digestive system and making you feel fuller, longer. Some examples include whole grains and bran, brown rice, vegetables (broccoli, green beans, corn), berries with seeds, fruits you can eat with skins on, and avocados and bananas. Since it’s from the part of plants that give them their structure, you’ll also get the benefits of eating foods that are high in nutrients. Because this fiber is indigestible, it slows down your system, allowing it to work more to get the good stuff into your bloodstream. You’ll also need a lot more water to help your body with this process because insoluble fiber absorbs a lot of water.
Also from plants, soluble fiber forms a gel in water. It can be found in oatmeal, barley, and beans. High soluble fiber foods are great before a ride because they keep your blood sugar levels more sustained and stable. Some great high-fiber pre-exercise snacks include oatmeal (and oatmeal breads, cookies, muffins), beans, and legumes. Try some lentil soup with a side of whole grain bread, refried beans on a corn tortilla, or hummus with rye crackers. However, they’re not the best foods to choose for when you’re on the bike. They won’t deliver the energy you need quickly enough and they sometimes can cause gastrointestinal distress (a.k.a. burping and passing gas).

No comments:

Post a Comment