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NUTRITION TIPS FOR BEGINNERS

  • Nutrition and Hydration
Nutrition Tips for Beginners

When it comes to nutrition - the internet holds a vast sea of information which can be confusing, conflicting or just hard to grasp. All this information can often be too much to take in for someone starting out on their fitness journey. If you are reading this article, you are likely just at the beginning your fitness journey, and are new to the world of cycling! We know how overwhelming that can be, so read on for nutrition tips to help get you going.

GENERAL NUTRITION TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND

1. DAILY CALORIC REQUIREMENTS:

One of the most confusing aspects of nutrition is one’s caloric requirements. If you’ve just taken up cycling, you should know that it increases your overall calorie requirement. It is important to try to eat enough food to meet your daily calorie requirements. There are a range of tools on the internet that help determine one’s recommended calorie limit. Although you can eat a little more, try not to overlook healthy choices or to max out on portions.

2. CONSISTENCY IS KEY:

The key to improving endurance, performance on the saddle and overall health is to be consistent. Instead of following a “diet” which may seem restrictive, try to implement a daily nutrition plan that focuses on whole foods and is flexible based on your lifestyle and fluctuating training plan. The main aim should be to follow a nutrition plan that focuses on controlling and optimizing blood sugar.This can be achieved by balancing the macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) consumed throughout the day. Additionally, the 80/20 rule is a great way to keep cravings/over-indulgence at bay. This would mean making healthy food choices 80% of the week, allowing a 20% leave way for treats.

3. KEEP UP WITH MINERALS AND VITAMINS:

There are two main types of vitamins — fat-soluble and water-soluble ones. The fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, E and K that are stored in the body. The water-soluble ones, however, are not stored in the body and therefore are needed in your diet every day. Minerals such as calcium, iron and zinc are also needed daily, but in very small quantities. It is recommended to consume 5 Servings of varied fruits and vegetables per day in order to get the required vitamins and minerals. To ensure that deficiencies don’t develop, especially when training regularly, a multivitamin is also ideal. Remember to ensure good-quality when choosing a multivitamin.

Nutrition Tips for Beginners - General Nutrition Tips to keep in Mind
Nutrition Tips for Beginners - Cycling Specific Nutrition Tips

CYCLING SPECIFIC NUTRITION TIPS:

1. PRE-RIDE NUTRITION:

If you eat sufficient amounts of whole foods across the day, easy-paced rides of less than 90 minutes may not always need additional fuel support, in terms of a pre-ride meal. The carbohydrate and fat stored in one’s body will provide adequate fuel over this period. However, if you are heading out for a longer or more intense ride, topping up your carbohydrate stores may support better performance, ensuring that you have plenty of strength towards the end of your route - A meal with a low GI carb, balanced out with small amounts of fat and protein is optional . An alternative to this would be to top up your glycogen stores mid-ride, think portable easy to eat foods like bananas, granola bars, gels etc.

2. DEALING WITH THE DREADED ‘BONK’:

The dreaded ‘bonk‘ is when your body runs out of fuel, thus forcing you to stop your ride, or carry on, but grudgingly. Studies show that the body can efficiently harness about and hour and a half worth of glycogen for high-tempo efforts before it needs replenishing. Without glycogen supply, the body can switch to burning fat for fuel. The problem with burning fat is that you can’t work at anywhere near the same intensity level, unless you are fat-adapted/ have trained sufficiently on a fasted state allowing your body to switch to fat-burning without affecting your performance. So, to avoid ‘bonking’ on longer rides, keep a carb-high snack on hand- especially on rides exceeding 45 minutes. Though 90 minutes is the stated limit, as a beginner to biking, your body could get tired earlier on.

3. POST RIDE NUTRITION:

A long, hard ride is a ticket to a good meal (and some rest), which is essential for the body to repair itself. While common, it is not absolutely necessary to consume protein right after you finish your ride. If you are just done with a high-energy ride, it is likely that a big meal with protein is the last thing on your mind. The good news is that you can still reap the benefits of consuming protein at a later point in the day. But remember, you do need to fuel your body with something. Carbohydrates make for an ideal ‘just-of-the-saddle’ snack, that can help with recovery and keep you satiated till you can sit down for a hearty well-balanced meal with sufficient protein, carbs and fats.

Conclusion

While good nutrition is key to ensure performance while on the saddle, a healthy approach to consuming nutrient-dense foods on a regular basis will not only keep you healthy, but will also have a positive affect on your overall performance and quality of life. So, if you try to follow these tips and find a difference in your overall well-being and on-saddle performance, let us know! Happy eating, and Happy Cycling!

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