We know what it’s like, working hard all day and then trying to squeeze in some family time with the little ones AND a session or two on our indoor trainer. It’s really not that easy, and definitely a strain on your time and energy banks, which are constantly being eroded all day long.
Which is why we really need to worry about getting the maximum nutritional value we can from the meals we do manage to squeeze into our daily frenzy. Especially for those of us hitting the open road or sneaking in a trainer session or two.
There are plenty of nutritional tips for getting maximum performance or even for dieting while training, but we’ve come up with FIVE awesome tips that every cyclist can incorporate into their daily training habits.
In no particular order…
Start the day with oats
Oats are the perfect breakfast fuel for many people, and especially us cyclists. Thanks to the slow-release of carbohydrates and fairly low sugar (especially when compared with regular cereals), they really are the fuel your body needs.
Our tip: Soak some oats overnight in yogurt (the acidic content of the yogurt helps you increase your intake of iron), and then add pretty much whatever you like. Bananas are great and also an excellent source of energy, and you can top it off with raisins, blueberries and even peanut butter for even more energy.
We all remember the time when our parents told us “those greens are good for you!”, as we reluctantly pushed various green, horrible-looking vegetables around our dinner plate. But adding a handful of greens to your dinner (and hey, if you can create a smoothie drink with greens like spinach, all the power to you) boosts the antioxidant levels of your food, which will assist post-exercise recovery. In one study we came across from the University of Warwick, gym goers that ate a daily dose of watercress experienced less DNA damage post exercise.
Frozen beats fast
It might surprise some of you, but research indicates that frozen food has more nutrient value than food stored in the fridge. From a 2014 survey (revealed at the conference of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics), it was discovered that those eating frozen foods ate less calories, some 250 calories less per day in fact. They also ate more fiber, and even more Vitamin A, compared with those who went some sort of fast food.
Oh yes, surprising indeed. What is even more awesome is the fact that frozen fruits and vegetables actually contain as many if not more nutrients as fresh, particularly if they are frozen soon after harvesting. A survey conducted by a UK university in 2013 shows that the nutrients in frozen berries, beans, peas, sweetcorn and cauliflower were actually higher than those which were stored in a fridge for 3 days.
The nutritional value of a freshly made smoothie has been known for some time (we got hooked after a visit to Thailand and waking up to smoothies every morning). What we’d recommend is preparing a variety of chopped fruits and veggies and storing them in freezer bags until needed. Don’t forget to add some greens (see the Go Green section above!), especially spinach, which we’ve found has worked well in smoothies. Then whenever you need them just pull them out of the freezer, blend them, and you’ve got yourself a tasty, nutritional treat!
More of an energy AND time saver, this tip is one of our faves and much implemented! Whenever you cook up something, think double. Basically, you’re going to double the portions you cook, rather than just worry about the immediate meal. For example, if you’re cooking up some pasta, double the portion; tomorrow you can use the remaining portion in a pasta salad, or reheat it and throw in some tuna and tomato puree. Or if chili is your poison, make extra portions so you can use the next day, either by serving in wraps with guacamole and salsa, or spooning some into/onto a baked potato.
Everyday foods like eggs can also be saved in the fridge for a week. So boil up a few at the start of the week and you’ll have yourselves plenty of eggy options through the week (remember that 3 eggs will give you your recommended 20g of protein recommended for post-exercise recovery).
To cut a long story short, there are some great nutritional ways to maximize your training program. We hope these are a great starting point for you on your way to indoor trainer glory!
Getting ready for an indoor training session is always about the preparation (heck, even getting yourself motivated!). There are always things you need to do before starting – but what about the things you shouldn’t do? The things that might just screw up your training session completely…?
Well, here are FIVE things we feel you should NEVER do before a training session if you really want to get something out of it…
Eat high-fiber and fatty foods
It might seem like a good idea, but high-fiber or fatty foods before a training session aren’t going to do you any good. They are less easily broken down by your digestive system, so will likely be sitting in your stomach when you start training. Something that will probably make you feel a little sick after a few minutes. A better alternative is to go for carbs or proteins, which will help your muscles gain a bit more energy.
Making sure your bike is in peak condition, whether you’re taking it outdoors or indoors, is always a must. Of course, the potential for disaster on an indoor route is much less obvious, but the need for a pre-ride checkup is still paramount. Nothing can be more annoying than starting out on a session and finding your gear changes are all over the place because somebody (ahem…) didn’t apply some oil…
Drink a LOT of water
If you haven’t had a drink of water prior to starting your session, it’s often tempting to glug down a glass or two, especially if your heating is on full blast (or the summer heat has already got you sweating). Just don’t do it. Your stomach and liver can only process so much water at once, so they will struggle to get rid of that excess water, resulting in untimely bathroom breaks. While riding, we’d recommend something like a few sips every 15 minutes or so.
DO NOT have a beer prior to starting your session. OK, we did mention that carbs are a preferred choice of pre-ride nutrients, but the complete lack of nutrients in a beer will leave your liver working overtime, struggling to convert glucose into glycogen, which is the energy source your muscles need. And if you’re like us, we like a nice cold beer after a particularly hard session, just go easy on the cold ones and have something to eat before you drink.
Perform too many warm-up stretches
If you thought that stretching and limbering up before a session was a good thing, think again. Stretching might not a terrible thing, and we’d recommend 3 or 4 quick stretches to get the blood flowing to those less-used joints, but do not overdo it. Instead, start your ride with a 10 minute warm-up session. You don’t have to push too hard, just get those legs moving and the blood pumping and you’ll be good to go.
We posted this video a while back and know that many of you enjoyed it, so here’s another one from the boys at CTXC, who’ll have your legs pumping in no time!
This video lasts for 60 minutes in total, including a 10 minute warm up and 3 minute warm down, so be prepared to sweat! The music will certainly keep you in the groove and the camera angle and street views will have you feeling as if you’re out there on the road with them!
Load this one on your TV/laptop, turn the volume up, and start pedaling!
Now this is a great motivational video from Melbourne’s famous Beach Road! The music is a-pumping for 45 whole minutes, and the excellent angle of the video makes you feel as though you’re there with the rest of the crew…what we liked were the quick sprints which had us overtaking the main group of riders!
Put this one on your TV/laptop, turn the volume up, and start pedaling!
If you need more training videos for inspiration, try this awesome 60 minute workout!
If you’re anything like me, then you’ll know that pigging out over the Christmas / New Year season is inevitable. It’s just too hard to resist those chocolates, that extra glass of wine, or another slice of your mother’s latest caking adventure…
But even so, there’s no reason to lose sight of the winter goal: keeping yourself in relatively good shape DESPITE all those sweets and treats. You might have woken up this New Years a little chubbier than you planned, but don’t worry, we’ve got it covered with FIVE crucial tips for staying in shape!
Don’t go nuts – eat nuts!
Nuts are everywhere over the holiday season, and could be a great answer to many of your festive slimming woes. Nuts have a lot of vitamins and minerals, but also provide a great source of protein and heart-healthy fats. Probably best of all, they actually do fill you up, unlike chewing on a carrot or lettuce leaves. Of course, you should steer clear of the more luxurious looking nuts, the ones covered in chocolate or honey-roasted, as they’ll be packed full of sugar, and hence a lot more calories.
Try and stay with the natural, raw nuts, like almonds. And once the New Year’s parties and celebrations are over, they are still a highly recommended munchie.
Watch what you eat
An obvious one this one…but seriously, watch out for those heavy, calorie-laden meals heading your way over the winter season.
Most holiday meals are based on something nutritional, like pumpkin, turkey, or sweet potatoes, but more often than not, all that nutrition goes to waste during preparation. Looking at a pumpkin pie for example, the pumpkin part is virtually fat free and good for you. It’s the sugary biscuity crust which will pile on the fat. And turkey roasts are in theory a great nutritional booster, but if they’re soaked and roasted in butter for an hour or two you can kiss that nutrition goodbye.
And once the New Year is over, keep up the good work with those weekend family visits and goodie-rich dinners!
Drink and be merry – but don’t forget to drink water!
Most of us enjoy a drink or three over the festive season, and it’s soooo easy to get half-drunk pretty much the entire holiday period. But that’s a lot of calories to work off. One of my fave tricks for keeping fairly in control is to drink as much water as possible. I always try and have a glass of water between alcoholic beverages, as the water fills me up a little and leaves less room for another beer or whatever is available. I also make sure I drink a glass of water before going to bed as this keeps me hydrated through the night, especially if I know I’ve had one or two too many.
Another little trick for you: hold a glass in your hand at all times. This should avoid friends or relatives pushing a freshly filled glass your way at all times possible…
Don’t stay at the dinner table for extra-long conversations!
When we’re eating around the table or at a buffet-like party, it’s inevitable that we’ll munch on things that are within arm’s reach. Disaster! Don’t be completely unsocial and run from the food and company, but try and steer the conversation away from the food if at all possible.
Forget those super sweet lattes from Starbucks!
There’s nothing like stopping by at your fave coffee shop or Starbucks for a seasonal coffee drink – but boy do those drinks pile on the calories! Just thinking about a pumpkin spice latte or peppermint mocha is enough to get us salivating, the only problem is we’ll be paying for it later! Just look at all those sweet drinks and the added chocolate, whipped cream, whole milk etc – that’s a ton of work on your indoor trainer to work off!
We know that once you’ve got your new stationary bike trainer up and running, you’ll be biting at the chomp to get those legs pumping!
And if you’re lucky enough to get some training DVDs with your trainer (which some models do come with), stick them in the DVD player and start training! However, most of you probably won’t know how to really get going with your trainer, and more importantly, how to really get more power and endurance from your training sessions.
This is where this great video comes in – we recently discovered it on YouTube, and it really does provide some great tips (here’s another of their great videos here).
Included in the video:
- How to elevate your heart rate and your overall working threshold
- How to refine your cycling technique and increase muscular endurance
- How to elevate your metabolism and energy
And yes, that’s a Kurt Kinetic Road Trainer in the video