Nutrition is a big part of getting the most out of your cycling. You’ll often get home after a long ride and be incredibly hungry, and while that’s a great excuse to eat whatever you feel like, it’s also a sign that you haven’t got your nutrition right during the activity. Pre-loading on the right foods will help you go faster, further and for longer – so it can pay huge rewards to watch what you eat. We’ve picked a few things you can eat that’ll have big benefits for your cycling training, performance and recovery.
You may have heard the old claim that eating celery burns more energy that it contains calories. We’re not sure about the scientific veracity of that one, but we do know that celery contains inorganic nitrate, which our bodies turn into nitric oxide. There’s good evidence to suggest that this compound helps your body with blood and oxygen delivery – so you muscles are better able to perform. Not into the green stuff? Well beetroot juice is believed to have a very similar effects.
Coconut oil contains something called “medium-chain triglycerides”. Now we’re not even going to pretend to know what that means, other than that they are very easily and quickly digestible – giving your body a near-instant supply of energy. Coconut oil is found in the fleshy part of mature coconuts so you can get it by eating pieces of the fruit. Or it’s available in its extracted form for use in home cooking.
Protein-packed, delicious and incredibly versatile – what’s not to love about eggs? Just a single egg has 10% of your daily requirement for protein – which is, of course, vital for all that muscle building your body will do if you’re to improve your strength and endurance. The fact that you can add an egg to most dishes is also a big bonus, and there are literally hundreds of ways to cook them. Delia Smith even wrote a whole book about them!
Quinoa (pronounced, keen-wah) is a South American supergrain that is packed with protein. Unlike stodgy carbs like white pasta or potatoes, quinoa won’t just sit in your stomach like its been lined with lead. One 60g serving is packed with fibre (20% of your recommended intake), protein (8g per cup) and 20% of your iron intake. And this is a great one if you’re coeliac, as it’s totally free of gluten.
The benefits of bananas for athletic performance should be no secret – they’re packed with energy because of their high glycaemic rating, as well as lots of B vitamins and magnesium, which aid your body in energy production. The high potassium content also allows your body to properly balance your fluid levels, keep muscles firing on all cylinders and metabolise carbs. And, like an energy bar or gel, they fit beautifully into a jersey pocket, but unlike them, they come in their own bio-degradable ‘wrapper’ which you can throw into a nearby hedgerow when you’ve finished with ‘em.