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!