"Nutrition doesn’t need to be complicated. Eat food, not too much and mostly plants" Michael Pollen.
From low carb:high fat to paleo and different fasting diets, there is practically a fad diet for everyone. Don’t get sucked in by their silly claims. If it sounds too good to be true, it generally is. In my opinion (I’d like to think after studying nutrition for 7 years I have a fairly educated opinion), no nutrient needs to be excluded from a healthy diet. Unless you are allergic or intolerant.
Here are some practical tips to help you on your cycling journey (not in any specific order).
- Eat more plants. Plants offer an astonishing range of roots, stems, leaves, flowers, buds and seeds. Eating a variety is key. Add fruit, beans and wholegrains and the wide ranging plant category should make up most of your diet.
- Find the joy in food. Eat mindfully. One of life’s great gifts is the need to eat. So don’t squander it with mindless, joyless consumption. Try to find pleasure in every meal and share it with friends, family or even strangers.
- Listen to your body. Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full (if only it was that easy). It takes practice and you can start by trying to have a 10 hour fast overnight so you wake hungry. That way it is easier to tell when you are full.
- Water is key. Even slight dehydration can leave you feeling sluggish, fatigued, grumpy and you may develop head headaches. Hydrating on during exercise and aiming for at least 1L per day when you are not riding.
Eat during rides longer than 75-90 minutes. Examples includes honey sandwich, muesli or sports bars, bananas, dried fruit, sports drink, homemade slices or dates.
Eat as soon as you finish your ride. Include protein and carbohydrate. Eggs on toast, muesli and yoghurt with fruit, smoothies or coffee and toast.
Remember you need to eat to fuel your life load and not just the ride you have been on. Many of us have families and/or stressful jobs and study loads to support.
Karen is an elite cross country mountain bike rider, competing nationally and internationally. Along with a university qualified nutritionist, completing her PhD in sports nutrition and exercise metabolism. Karen runs an online nutrition coaching program (karenhillnutrition.com.au)