A lot of cyclists do not realise how important their diet is and how the foods you consume can have an impact on your cycling. In part four of a five-part series, guest blogger Kerry Rough explains how a balanced diet will stop you hitting that wall. Kerry also provides a summary of food groups and explains how they can help you reach your goals this year.
Now more than ever with my Marathon training I have realised that being well-fed and hydrated is so important. Each healthy adult should have around 2000-2500 calories every day according to health living guidelines. This should be well balanced and everything in moderation with a good balance of vitamins and food groups. A summary of food groups is available at the foot of this post.
I have been advised that keeping a food diary is helpful, and after a recent analysis of my food diary over three days and the training I was doing, I discovered that I was not eating enough protein.
The key food groups all have different purposes, and it is very common for people to be confused about what is good and what is bad for them. Everything is fine in moderation, even those dreaded fats!
Let me be clear I am not a dietician, or nutritionist, but I have been competing in triathlons and training around 8-10 hours each week and I know what works for me. I know that I need carbohydrates for fuel, and generally these should make up a third of my diet. I certainly eat enough of these, and probably just the right amount. Proteins were something which I need to increase in my diet as they are essential for recovery and repair. Most recently I have felt the real need to address my lack of protein. Having completed a 10 mile run on a Sunday, I arrived home completely depleted of energy and I literally couldn't leave the sofa for the rest of the day. I know now that I needed to get food inside me within the first half an hour of completing my exercise, as well as needing it to be protein related.
I have now made it my aim to drink a protein drink on finishing my long run, and increase my protein intake generally. Another food group that we probably focus on a lot is fats. Cutting fats out of your diet entirely is not only bad for your health, but can actually be detrimental. We all need fat to survive and although we do not need excesses of fat, we still need it in our diet but in the right variation.
Good fats are the ones we probably don’t eat enough of (monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats). These can be found in olive oil, sunflower oil, avocados, peanuts, almonds and walnuts as well as sunflower seeds, soy milk, tofu and fatty fish (salmon).
By starving yourself of all fats you are depriving your body, and then the inevitable happens- your body will start to hold on to fat and you won’t actually lose any weight!
In addition to getting the right nutrition, it is equally important to be well hydrated. Drinking around 8-10 glasses of water per day is hard enough, but when you exercise and start to lose sweat and minerals, it's vital you drink even more!
I try and drink an electrolyte drink after exercise to replenish those key minerals and salts as well as water. These are fairly easy to find and they won’t break the bank!
So this is what works for me. You might want to find what works for you personally. This is just a guideline to get you started.
I have provided a very basic guide to the main food groups and how they can aid your cycling. Please see below
- Carbohydrates can provide the energy you need whilst cycling.
Benefit: They give you energy
Example: Potatoes, rice, pasta & bread
- Proteins will help your body recover after a ride
Benefit: Help muscles grow and repair
Example: Eggs, nuts, seeds, beans & cheeses
- Like Carbohydrates if consumed in the right quantities, fats will provide energy for your rides
Benefit: They provide energy
Example: Cooking oil, butter and margarine
- Fibre is only found in foods that come from plants
Benefit: Help digest food
Example: Cereals, Bread & Vegetables
- Vitamins are great for your skin and bones
Benefit: They help keep your body healthy. Certain Vitamins can be good for your skin and bones.
Example: Milk, eggs, fruit and vegetables
If you have any questions regarding nutrition and hydration please feel free to leave a comment and I'll be sure to get back to you!