Healthy eating as a cyclist

Preparing a smoothie

With the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) announcing that inactivity is now as big a killer as smoking, it’s a great time to keep feeling smug as a cyclist.

To supplement that, I would love to know if you guys follow any specific healthy eating habits?

As always, please leave a comment below. I read all of them.

30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up

One of my favourite authors, Tim Ferriss, discusses the importance of eating 30 grams of protein, within 30 minutes of waking up. It’s the old classic advice of not missing your breakfast. To get that you could, for example, eat some nuts, eggs or meat.

If you miss breakfast you don’t replenish your liver’s glycogen stores, which can result in feeling tired half way through the ride in to work. You also end up eating more later in the day.

For me it really varies. Sometimes I’ll wake up and immediately feel hungry. Other times I’m happy to go on until about 4pm without eating.

However, for weight loss and healthy living, it’s better to have breakfast.

The best way to do that is to have something prepared from the night before. That’s great for when you are running late. If you don’t fancy eating something solid, then a smoothie is another great option.

Supplementing a healthy living

Some people go along the route of using products such as the Maximuscle UK supplements. As I’m simply getting from A to B and not training for any hard-core rides, I don’t tend to use any supplements. I’m keen on getting these proteins from natural foods instead. I do use Abel & Cole however, as they deliver high quality meat from UK producers.

The only supplement I use is Apple Cider Vinegar. In my personal experience, it helps with healthy skin, reducing bags under the eyes. However, I’m not a doctor and I can’t quote any scientific studies that prove that, so please do your own research.

Eating as soon as you arrive at work

The advice you’ll read in cycling magazines is that you should eat within 30 to 60 minutes of ending a workout. That’s when your body uses the nutrients from food to repair muscle and replace glycogen. With that thinking, you should grab something small when you arrive at work. However, if you only have a short commute or you prefer cycling at a leisurely pace, this becomes less important.

Healthy eating during a long ride

If you’ve got a long commute in to work, then it can be a good idea to grab some healthy food during a ride. While energy bars tend to be expensive, and I probably wouldn’t recommend their long term use, you can use some healthy alternatives. Bananas, apples, sandwiches and muesli bars are all a good source of nutrients.

Do you have a healthy eating routine? Is there anything you’d recommend to fellow cyclists? Please leave a comment below..

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10 Responses to Healthy eating as a cyclist

  1. thom 29/11/2012 at 1:07 pm #

    To be honest, I use my cycling miles as an excuse to be able to eat what I want without feeling guilty. I never have time for breakfast, and survive on coffee until lunch. If I have a slice of cake in the afternoon, then I try to manage a loop of shooters hill on the way home as payment!

  2. Gizmo 29/11/2012 at 1:21 pm #

    As above I suppose, I’m not trying to lose weight quickly, just to gradually wear it off. So whilst I don’t use a ten-mile ride as an excuse to binge on a 15″ pizza and eight pints of beer, I just eat normally unless I’m doing an especially long ride in which case I’ll carb load slightly for a couple of days before, and have peanut butter on toast as fuel.

    For my 20km commute I don’t need breakfast before it, but I’ll drink a bottle of lemon squash during.

  3. Barton 29/11/2012 at 6:05 pm #

    I am trying to lose weight – a lot of it, as I had let myself slip into the sedentary, no portion control “lifestyle.”

    On work days, I’ll commute to work, then have a bowl of sugar-free Alpen w/ yougurt and berries of some kind (frozen, as they are out of season currently). I try to get in a long ride on the way home each night (usually 1-1 1/2 hours, except now, since it’s dark at 4:30 in the afternoon): this is mainly to keep me from snacking like a crazy person when I get home, as well as b/c it is gorgeous out and/or I just love riding. If I go riding for over 1 1/2 hours on the way home, I have a cup of chocolate milk when I get home. It keeps the cravings down, and it really improves my mood (and it could be all mental, but I think it helps recovery as well). And follow up with a “sensible” dinner (meaning @ least two veggies, no bread – sadly – and a lean protein) in most cases.

    On long weekend rides, where I am gone for 4-7 hours, I’ll take a lot of fruits for snacks, at least two protein bars (mainly containing nuts and dried fruit), and I’ll start the day with my normal Alpen and yougurt breakfast, plus about an ounce of jerky (usually beef or turkey) for additional protein. I started eating the jerky after reading an article about women not getting enough protein when they are dieting/exercising. It helped me from getting too run down immediately after a long ride, so I guess it works (or again, all in my head).

    I have been known to still celebrate long rides with a whole pizza and a few pints, but I’ve started ordering smalls instead of something huge. But, if you consider on a long ride you burn anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 calories (depending on size, effort, time), a small pizza (6 inches round or so), isn’t too horrible. But, now that there is a new Indian place that delivers to my house, I’ve been “celebrating” long rides with garlic naan and shrimp or chicken Bhuna. It’s probably just as bad for me as pizza, but much much yummier!

  4. Dominic 30/11/2012 at 5:48 pm #

    Eyes half open I pop two pita bread pouches into the toaster. I pour a bowl of meusli and fill it with Kara coconut milk. I munch on the cereal while filling the blender, usually with two bananas, a handful of strawberries, blueberries, kale, spinach, few slices of cucumber and a cup of apple juice or coconut milk to flavour. I finish the muesli, turn around to the toaster and prize the pitas out (hotter than the sun) then slap two fat wads of peanut butter in each, before putting one in my bag and one in my face. Right before I leave the house I swallow the smoothie (and give the other half to my other half, she can’t handle all that food before a cycle, but I feel like I need it) and we both head out the door for an eight mile spin. On landing at work, I eat the peanut butter pita at my desk. I do this every day, and after two years at the same job I’ve found it the only formula that allows me to really pound the pedals EVERY time.

  5. Cafewanda 01/12/2012 at 9:29 am #

    I tend to eat what I like because I cycle and run. I’m worse during the colder months when chocolate/junk food makes more of an appearance.

  6. RobbieC 01/12/2012 at 12:22 pm #

    like everyone else – cycling lets me eat But at work, tend to nibble stuff from “Graze” boxes and avoid most of the cakes and sweets people bring in. I have an early start (and long commute) breakfast is mini-pastries I eat on the train. if hungry – popcorn.

  7. Victoria 01/12/2012 at 2:16 pm #

    Breakfast bars like Belvita are the go. I have a 4 pack when I arrive at my desk after my morning commute.

  8. Helen 03/12/2012 at 9:18 pm #

    I’m actually trying to put on weight, which is difficult when almost all dietary advice is geared to losing it and calories are treated like the enemy. I don’t just want to eat doughnuts and unhealthy foods because I’m aware that slim people can still have clogged up arteries.

    So I have porridge for breakfast as this seems to be a very good source of fuel. And then basically I try to keep eating. I eat fish but no other meat so I’ve upped the amount of fish I eat significantly. Other than that I’m basically carb loading and making sure I get a lot of fresh fruit and veg. I want to put on about half a stone as at the moment I’m slightly lacking in energy.

    I try to avoid too much refined sugar but in the end I think you can eat what you like, so long as you don’t eat too much of one thing.

  9. gdbc 04/12/2012 at 9:30 pm #

    I have recently started a 13 mile commute to work about three times a week and still don’t tend to fade after just having coffee until lunch, maybe when I’m up to 5x p/w I’ll have the urge. Good tips though, thanks.

  10. Dan 11/12/2012 at 12:46 am #

    Porridge and peanut butter in the mornings. Maybe a boiled egg and some fruit as well. Sandwiches and fruit at lunch. Big bowl of rice or noodles with a chilli or curry loaded with veggies batched up in the freezer after the ride home. A multivitamin to fill any gaps I missed. 2+ litres of water. And avoiding yummy delicious takeaways… mmm, okay, yeah. Sometimes I slip up on that one.

    For long rides, water (500ml/hour works for me), electrolyte tabs, and easily digestible carbs – energy gels and the like. I don’t bother with protein supplements, these are more useful for people looking to bulk up, and have an exercise routine out of the saddle to match.

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