Dear Wheel Food Doctor,
I am an experienced cyclist, but I am finding I can’t keep up with my mates.
I am very careful with my diet, ensuring I carbo load with a good fried breakfast before and during my rides. There must be plenty of calories in those chips and heaps of proteins in the egg and bacon to last me the distance. Should I consider double eggs and chips??
Yours in hunger,
It is true to say that a good breakfast is vital to provide the fuel for a long week-end ride. Unfortunately however, your food choices may be making you brake-fast rather than help you eat up the miles!
The primary fuel source for working muscles is carbohydrate and although there is some carbohydrate in chips and fried bread, there is also a lot of fat. Fat delays the digestion of carbohydrate thus slowing its delivery to your working muscles and leaves the food sitting heavy in your stomach. In addition, fat contains twice as many calories gram for gram as protein and carbohydrate, which could contribute to weight gain if consumed in excessive amounts – losing any excess body weight is a lot cheaper than a lighter set of forks or wheels!
The best carbohydrates for cyclists to eat at breakfast are cereals, muesli, porridge, toast and honey / jam, toasted teacakes, bagels or crumpets, Malt loaf or banana bread. Spread with honey, jam or low fat soft cheese in place of butter.
Fruit such as banana, raisins or unsweetened juices add additional carbohydrate and vitamin C, important for the immune system and reducing muscle soreness.Adding a little protein at breakfast is a good idea as it will help to keep you feeling fuller for longer, but sausages and bacon contain more saturated fat and salt (not good for that heart that works so hard to get you up the hills!) and less protein per serving than healthier options such as poached / boiled egg, baked beans, lean ham, semi-skimmed milk, low fat yogurt. You could try grilled turkey rashers instead of bacon – a Turkey-Lettuce-Tomato (TLT) sandwich on wholemeal bread is a good alternative to a fatty bacon sarnie!
Remember that your body performs better when fed a carbohydrates little and often throughout your ride rather than being starved of fuel for a few hours then being bombarded with a big meal that will sit in your stomach for hours. A moderate sized pre-ride meal and regular (about every 20 minutes from the start of the ride) mouthfuls of sports drinks / bites of cereal bars / sports bars / bananas or even the tour favorite – a panini bread with a little peanut butter on rides longer than an hour are the key to feeding for speed.
Good luck Miles,
The Wheel Food Doctor.