BICYCLE TIME IS HERE – HOW’S YOUR ENERGY?
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: firstname.lastname@example.org Please include “Glycemic Index” in your subject line.