Food! Glorious Food!

 

There is so much bad advice out there regarding nutrition and diet that it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. Between us all at Team Headset I’m sure we’ve made numerous bad nutrition mistakes and we still all probably have a few bad habits. I thought I would jot down a few key points for trying to get it right. One of the most important things I think is to remember food is fuel, if you want to ride hard and fast you need to fuel yourself correctly. Food is also fuel for recovery, so even on those easier days when you are totally shattered you need to be eating plenty. However even more important than this is that food is happiness, comfort and family. Sharing lovely food with your loved ones is one of life’s finest pleasures, try not to loose sight of this.

 

I learnt a huge amount about my bad riding/eating habits when I first went away with Nat to Spain for a few days training. Nat had ridden as a pro rider and anyone who knows Nat can vouch for the fact that she can put some food away. Nat made me realise that not only was I not eating enough to fuel my riding but I wasn’t even eating at the right times. I learnt some invaluable good habits from spending time with Nat and I also learnt not to feel guilty for asking for seconds. Anyone who knows me well will know that I suffer with awful hunger rage – so much so my close friends bought me a Tshirt that said “I’m sorry for what I said when I was hungry” on it. Being a cyclist and a hunger rage sufferer is not a good combo so I’ve worked hard to try and get this right.

 

I also work long shifts at work as a doctor and I remember once the BMA suggesting we should treat our 13 hour oncalls like doing an ironman. I’ve never done an ironman ( I would drown) but I’ve done a shit load of 13h day and night shifts and I’m pretty sure they are not the same. Also people only do one or two ironmans a year, not 3-4 13hour shifts a week. However I do approach these long days in a similar way to long rides because often we don’t stop and if I fuel them right I am fit for riding on my day off and not totally exhausted. I try and eat little and often and I take a bottle of water and I do my best to keep hydrated.

 

I’ve come up with a few top tips of eating and diet. It is a bit of brain vomit but if you get a few key things right you should hopefully see an improvement not only your performance but also your recovery and your overall wellbeing.

 

Top Tips

 

  1. Ditch any sort of faddy, exclusion diet. Go for a healthy balanced diet with a little bit of what you fancy every now and again. I mean what are all those miles on the bike for if you can’t enjoy a nice cake every now and again.
  2. Avoid heavily processed foods and try and make things from scratch (this often works out a lot cheaper as well)
  3. Cut down on sugar but don’t feel the pressure to avoid it all together. You need glucose for your brain to function and a lot of these sugar alternatives do exactly the same to your body as sugar itself.
  4. Detox, juice cleanse, super foods etc are all marketing terms made up with no scientific basis. Ask for evidence!
  5. Go full fat. For years we’ve been told fat is bad. Its true there are good fats and bad fats, however low fat alternatives are usually full of sugar and lacking in any other substance. Low fat alternatives should be avoided.
  6. Dairy is important, particularly for women to get adequate calcium intake and avoid osteoporosis.
  7. If you want to loose weight stick to lean meat and vegetables that grow above the ground.
  8. Fuel your riding – practise eating on the bike, you should be nibbling away on a bar every 45-60mins of riding (and of course drinking plenty).
  9. You don’t need to shell out on expensive sports products – milk is a good recovery drink and orange juice diluted with water makes a good on the bike drink.
  10. For optimal refuelling/performance and recovery use your bodies glycogen window. This is usually 30-60mins after exercise and this is when you need to eat (even if you don’t feel like it). Mostly I feel like lying on the floor and complaining. But don’t do this, get up and make yourself something to eat. This is when you should be getting some carbs into you and some protein. You can do this with recovery drinks (good for after a race) but if you are at home real food is better. Glycogen stores in the muscle are very important as they are directly proportional to your ability to put out the watts on the bike. The better the stores the better the watts. Muscle glycogen synthesis is more rapid if carbs are consumed directly after exercise rather than several hours after. This will improve your recovery and stop you getting run down. Protein should also be consumed with the carbs 30mins post exercise as this helps shift the body from catabolism to anabolism (muscle repair an synthesis).

 

Team Headsets’ favourite on the bike treats

  1. Ready made nutella crepes – you can actually buy these from the supermarket and they come individually wrapped ready for your pocket and they are already flat so doesn’t matter if they get squashed.
  2. Cereal bars
  3. individual brioche and jam/nutella/peanut butter
  4. Bananas
  5. Anzac biscuits – these are oat based wonderful biscuits ideal for ride fuel and even better if homemade
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