Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tips for A faster you- The Diet of a cyclist

What a Cyclist Eats-
According to yours truly
We live in an age of sport nutrition counseling and dietary supplements- professions and things we have invented to feel better about eating a poor diet, like we didn't know any better. Most of us do, we just don't wish to put into practice what we know will be for our benefit. This article contains some common sense foods and tips that will put you on the right track to a faster you. All of these foods can be found in your local supermarket, no need to go on an organic, high priced shopping spree. Following these tips will help you add a couple of miles on your average speed if coupled with the right workout routine. 

Let's start off by putting into perspective the things you don't want to hear. First of all, beer in moderation, can be a good thing. A single serving of beer after a workout can give muscles much needed relaxation. That doesn't mean, however, that bar hopping on your bicycle will miraculously cure your need to watch your alcohol consumption and caloric intake. There are a couple of bar hopping bicycle clubs in my area; the girth of their members is pure testimony to the fact that their strategy isn't working. 

Just as beer, junk food can be equally as detrimental to your fitness as a cyclist. A cyclist can burn on average 1,200 to 2,000 calories in a 3 to 4 hour time period. The problem is finishing a workout then going for a double cheeseburger with extra fries and a soda. That right there will put a stop to any progress you would have made on your bicycle. Even though cycling is a great exercise, and cyclists in general exercise alot, if you're a cyclist you still have to watch what you eat. Our metabolisms start to slow down after our teenage years, so unless you're a teenager, this applies to you.  Even if you are a teenager, good habits at an early age will save you alot of trouble when you become older.

Does this mean being a cyclist involves being on a no-fun, permanent diet with no occasional indulgences? Absolutely not. It does however, involve allowing yourself to be guided by the common sense principles of healthy eating and controlling what you put in your mouth. Please observe the following tips that every cyclist needs to know and practice in their daily routine.

Eat high fiber foods: If you want to get serious about cycling, there needs to be some green in your refrigerator. Start buying more fruits and vegetables and including more servings of fruit into your diet. You can start with the foods that you're already familiar with: apples, bananas, and spinach just to name a few. Frozen vegetables are easy to make and can complement any meal. 

Replace enriched white bread with whole grain bread and cereal with oatmeal. Oatmeal is synonymous with cycling. Eating oatmeal kick starts your metabolism and eating oats has been linked to reducing levels of cholesterol and hypertension. Since a healthy heart is important in cycling, I highly recommend starting each day (or most days) with oatmeal.

Lean proteins: Lean proteins does not mean buying a pack of boneless skinless chicken breasts. A lean protein can be as simple as a hard boiled egg. Canned tuna is another lean protein rich in omega 3 vitamins and vitamin E, which helps blood circulation through the body. Fish and poultry, as well as nuts should be at the forefront of a cyclist's daily regimen.

Red meat should be limited in a cyclist's diet. Studies have shown that those who over consume red meat over a period of time are more likely to develop heart disease. Daily consumption of beef is linked to a 12% greater risk of heart attack. 

Water!: Daily hydration is what keeps a cyclist fresh after all the miles he or she has ridden. It's key to take water on your weekly training ride, but drinking water should start at the beginning of the day before you go on your ride. Make sure to keep hydrated all throughout the day and not to ignore the signs of dehydration: tiredness, anxiousness or dry throat. If possible, replace most beverages with water. Contrary to popular belief, tap water is not harmful. It's just as clean if not cleaner than bottled water and less expensive.

Sodas are a cyclist's worst enemy. They are loaded in empty calories and work against your muscles ability to recover. They destroy amino acids which are critical to building muscle mass in your body. Make it your goal to significantly reduce or eliminate any dependance on soft drinks. Replace soda with coffee.  Coffee has come along way since your grandmother's coffee. Look for flavorful options such as Cafe Bustelo, Starbucks's Verona or Komodo Dragon blends, Dunkin' Donuts House blend, or Nestle instant coffee. Buy a french press or espresso maker to enhance your coffee experience. Drinking coffee has been linked to significantly reducing your risk of Alzheimer's disease and  prostrate cancer.

If you follow these general principles, then you will see some major improvements in your cycling and overall health. You will strengthen and improve your heart function, which will lead to faster recovery times and less exhaustion after a ride. Cutting back on calories will contribute to weight loss. In turn, for every pound you lose, you will gain 15 to 20 seconds per every mile you climb. You can shave minutes if not hours over a course of a ride. Rather than upgrading the bike to go faster, sometimes it's a rider that needs the upgrading. These few tips will allow you to do just that. You will turn heads on your group rides, move up race categories and keep pace with the faster riders on the bike you already own.

Here is an example of a daily regimen you can follow:

Breakfast: Oatmeal, 1 to 2 cups of coffee
one serving of fruit with breakfast

Pre-Lunch: Snack on fruit or unsalted nuts before lunch.

Lunchtime: Tuna fish sandwich with lettuce, tomato on whole grain bread.
One serving of fruit with Sandwich. One electrolyte drink or water with meal.

Pre-ride: Two full glasses of water at least 30 minutes before a ride. One banana to give energy boost.

Dinner: Roasted or baked chicken, with one choice of carbohydrate (such as rice, potatoes) cooked spinach. Dinner should be eaten shortly after a workout. Avoid late dinners in the late hours of the night.

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