BICYCLE’S UP AND READY – ARE YOU?

BICYCLE TIME IS HERE – HOW’S YOUR ENERGY?

Bicycling in Spring

Check those tires, dust off the frame and wheels, grease where needed and you’re ready to ride the trails and roads this spring — almost.  What’s in your pack beside plenty of water, a tire patch kit, portable air pump, bandaids and sunscreen?  If you’re looking for the right energy foods, here are a few ideas for you to consider.

First of all, eating 5 to 6 meals a day, your nutrition program should make your body healthy enough to accomplish recovery and tissue repair speedily and efficiently. Ideally, everyone should be in that kind of condition. Second, it’s important for you to maintain lean muscle mass without adding body fat, and do this while maintaining a high strength-to-weight ratio. Eating 5 to 6 small meals means taking in the right amount and correct ratio of carbohydrates, protein and fats for your body and drinking plenty of water.

What’s a meal? Hold out your palms, face up with your pinky fingers touching. If you filled both hands about 2″ high with a combination of foods – that would constitute a meal for the average person. In hard and fast competition, you may need more. Third, a meal can vary according to each individual; your size, rate of metabolism, whether you are competing in a mountain bike marathon, road race or just riding for pleasure.

A snack, or 2 of the 5 or 6 meals is about 1/2 to one handful. Eating mostly low glycemic index* foods will keep your metabolism going and your energy on a more even keel.  Eat a “different breakfast” (see my blog “A New Idea for Eating Well”)  combining carbs and protein for long term energy.

For most of us, myself included, it’s the pleasure and exercise of rolling along on a sunny day watching the scenery change as I pump the pedals.  Besides downing all the water I can while riding, I usually stop and munch a meal somewhere along the way.

While resting in a sunny spot, my favorite energy foods are raw and roasted nuts, fresh and dried fruit and usually a wrap with humus and/or avocado and tomatoes sprinkled with cayenne, garlic and salt. The tomatoes add moisture, as well as flavor to the wrap, which is easy to pack and eat al fresco. The nuts and fruit are munchable any time, even while riding a flat spurt.  Cayenne and garlic are good for circulation and your heart.

Speaking of spurts, muscles rely on 3 major sources or systems to supply the energy they need: The immediate, for short-term, explosive strength output, the glycolitic, for medium-term energy for repeated near-maximum exertion and the oxidative, for long term endurance.

If you’re competing, your intake of high quality protein begins before you ride or in your pre-workout time.  It should be about 20 – 25% of your meal for effective recovery and adequate repair of damaged muscle tissue. About 20% of your meal would be fats for the average competitor.  High-quality COMPLEX carbohydrates should be about 55 – 60% in pre-season and for competition.

Remember, this varies with each person and their activity level. An overload of carbs and calories adds weight and inches we do not want.

Consuming Low glycemic index foods about 2 or 3 hours before workouts and competitions will help sustain the blood-sugar level. These include butter beans, green beans, black-eyed peas apples, yogurt, tomato soup, kidney beans, lentils, soybeans, almonds, peanuts.

Moderate glycemic index foods include whole grain bread, brown rice, muesli, bananas, raisins, buckwheat, spaghetti, sweet corn, biscuits, yams, oatmeal, potatoes, peas, oranges and fresh whole orange juice.  Eat these about 3-4 hours before competition.

If you’re like most of us, riding to enjoy the scenery, take along your favorite munchy foods and plenty of water.  Supplement your food intake at breakfast time with a combination of nutrients, multivitamins, multiminerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids. Go for it and enjoy your ride.

For more details about the glycemic index and lifestyle menus, please feel free to email me at:  ricki@mchealthymatters.com Please include “Glycemic Index” in your subject line.

Just for Fun – Planting with the Kids :)

Another adventure with the youngest grand kids that was fun.  They do grow quickly and there’s a lot one can miss when not there.

Mr Smiley, otherwise known as Gabe, is adorable and at 7  months he’s beginning to eat things like rice and some fruits .  Miss Sophia, an energetic almost 3,  is a hoot.  Very vocal and interested in just about everything!  Especially playing soccer on the lawn.

She also helped us shop, she loves to go shopping… for vegetables and fruits at the farmers’ market, acclaiming with delight at all the wonderful vegetables and “punkin” seeds.  She now knows the names of many fruits, veggies and plants.

What a wonderful opportunity to teach her – or any child –  about vegetables and fruits and how they help her grow strong and smart and healthy.   If you take your kids to a farmers’ market they may begin to understand how those wonderful foods are grown.

One thing you can do, now that Spring has sprung, is either buy some seeds and plant them in your garden…if you haven’t a garden, consider clay pots and window sills for planting in the house.  It’s an exciting adventure to watch a plant grow from a seed.  Even for adults.

Or, if you are not sure about seeds, get a few seedlings, the tiny little plants like basil, parsley or chives.  Those are usually very hardy and will grow just about anywhere.  And they are edible, which makes them all the more rewarding, especially for kids.   Do explain that NOT ALL plants are edible please, especially for little ones.

I remember the first time we planted something we could eat.  My kids were about 5 & 2 and their most annoyingly wonderful questions were, ” How long does it take to grow?  Why is it taking so long?”   And every day they would check the pots to see if anything had sprouted.

They got to water the plants and learn that they needed food too.  Good chance to teach them  gardening and responsibility for their project.

When we finally, after about 7-10 days saw some teeeny green leaves beginning to surface,  that was amazing.  A triumph for them.  They began to see their work (preparing the soil, planting the seeds, watering) coming to fruition – well, beginning to anyway.

It was exciting and they loved watching the leaves grow and change into a mature plant that we used for cooking, especially the basil.  Smelled and tasted wonderful too.

If you plant even one little pot of basil or parsley, the rewards are amazing.  If they really grow well, you may need to transplant in to larger pots.  Planning ahead for success doesn’t hurt and you can always surprise your gardening geniuses with a new plant, pot and extra soil as a reward for their work.

It is wonderful how good those fresh little veggies taste compared with much of the stuff we get from the store…especially tomatoes.  All my friends agree, there’s a vast difference in the aroma and taste of a tomato fresh from the garden and the store-bought kind – even the organic ones.  It’s work that’s well rewarded at harvest time!

Just as a side, I am no expert in gardening.  But I have found if I follow the instructions on the seed packet and the informative hints from the local garden shop staff, I’m able to grow delicious greens, herbs, and yes, tomatoes too.  It is soooo satisfying to walk out on my patio and grab a handful of arugula, lettuce and a tomato from my pots and make salad from the “garden”.

Impresses the heck out of guests, even when they too have a garden.  In the mountains, our growing season is preciously short, so the rewards are treasured.   Take a few moments and thank Mom Nature for what you are able to plant and then reap the rewards with gratitude.   I improves the flavor you can savor and share with your neighbor…

Happy Spring!