These three real food calorie options go down easy when temps go up.
By Jeffrey Stern
Fueling long adventures in any conditions can be tough, but when the temperature starts to rise often times your appetite goes out the window. We’re in the heart of the summer, so heat and humidity are plaguing cyclists across the country. From mountain to road cyclists and everywhere in between, more daylight means longer time exploring new places. The longer you spend outside sweating, burning calories and working hard means the more calories you need to intake.
We covered hydration tips recently, but what about fuel to keep your muscles moving and vital systems of your body functioning properly. Hydration is key, but you can’t just drink electrolyte water and expect to make it home after five or six hours in the saddle. Most often the first thing to go when it’s hot is the ability to eat. Quenching your thirst becomes paramount and the thought (or even remembering) to eat in the heat becomes nearly impossible.
Proper hydration and nutrition is a two-pronged approach that is necessary to keep you going, but what tastes good when it’s 100 degrees out and you’re replacing fluids every 15 minutes? The short answer is that it’s very personal. What you crave when it’s cold during winter maybe be completely different than what sounds good in the middle of summer. Trying different foods is the best way to find what works for you, but we have a few ideas to get you started down the right path of keeping your nutrition dialed so you can avoid bonking and keep pedaling.
We’re bananas, about, well bananas. Produced by large, herbaceous flowering plants, bananas are good sources of manganese, vitamin C, potassium (electrolytes) and fiber, They also have a low (51) glycemic index which means they release their energy into the bloodstream slowly; optimal for fueling long rides. What we like best about them is their consistency; they’re never to dry and can be eaten as slow or as fast as necessary. What else, they can be found in just about any truck stop, market or convenience store on any random road even in the middle of nowhere.
Sweet potatoes also pack an impressive, nutritional punch in an easily digestible and almost baby food-like texture. They have tons of fiber and potassium and although requiring a bit more planning than your simple banana fuel, what we love most are loaded sweet potatoes. Find small ones or cut larger ones in half. Bake them the night before your big ride and cut them down the middle, filling them with peanut butter, nuts, chocolate chips, a dash of salt, cinnamon or whatever your heart and taste buds desire. Wrap them in foil or put them in plastic bags and you’ll have an awesome fuel source for your ride adventure. Best of all, you can make each a one a little different to mix up the flavors and keep your nutrition varied, a vital aspect of sustaining an appetite even in the worst heat.
Our third go-to are simple and varied (in variety and flavor profile) dates. First and foremost, they’re easily digested, allowing your body to make full use of their goodness; dates are a great source of carbs, sugar and fiber. Although unattractive, dates are candy-like chewy, making them easy to savoir as well as incredibly flavorful. Essential minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium (more electrolytes), and zinc are also found in dates. Vitamins such as A, K, folate, niacin, riboflavin, niacin and thiamin complete this powerful package. Pack a baggie full, but just remember to buy pitted or de-pit them before jamming a handful in your mouth!
These three real food options are a great way to fuel your rides in a healthy and natural way, but there are many more choices out there. Rice cakes, mini sandwiches and homemade oat bars are great options as well. Remember that in general, fruits, vegetables and unprocessed foods contain tons more water than dehydrated, shelf-life driven products, and can offer the added benefit of slow release hydration.
Try to choose alternatives to pre-packaged foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce – your body will thank you if you eat more real food and keep the nutritious calories fueling your adventures even in the harshest of conditions.Tweet Print
Words by Jeffrey Stern. Photos and recipe courtesy of Farmers to You.
Fall is the start of shorter days, colder temperatures, often less motivation, more time bundled up watching movies on the couch and less time getting your sweat on. Winter is when the reality of the cold, rainy, snowy, bundled-up-at-home and read books (or watch Netflix) all day season truly hits. It can be somewhat depressing and definitely not motivating to stay active and eating the foods that your body needs. It’s too easy to eat that whole bag of cookies rather than spend some time behind the stove.
Even with the holiday season behind us, it doesn’t stop the usual cold weather temptations from starting to creep into your mind. Beer and pie for dinner! Seconds? Yes, please. This is also the time of year that your local farmer’s markets are bustling with a whole array of different colored fruits and veggies packed with glucosinolates (cancer-fighting compounds), antioxidants, beta-carotenes and much more. Rainbow colored foods that taste good in stir-fries, homemade soups and breads – all meals bursting with nutrition to give you energy to get your exercise on, as well as keep your belly warm when it’s cold outside.
One of my favorite recipes for when the weather turns foul and my belly is yearning for something warm, healthy and fueling for continued activity is soup. Of all the soups in the world, there is something about a butternut squash based soup. It’s like liquid gold for the soul. I enjoy sprucing it up with ginger and carrot, which makes it even healthier and adds a few more layers of mouth bursting flavor. This Carrot Butternut Squash Ginger soup will keep your body fueled and temptations at bay, as we all try to keep from digging ourselves to big of a hole this winter that we can’t climb out of!
-1 medium sized butternut squash
-3 medium sized carrots
-2 cloves garlic
-1 inch sized piece of fresh ginger
-1 small onion
-1 quart vegetable (or chicken) stock
-Salt & pepper
-Optional: coconut milk or sour cream
Instructions: Cover the bottom of a large pot with oil, add diced onion and a bit of salt on low heat. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until the onion becomes translucent. Add garlic, ginger, salt and pepper to taste, then cook another 5 minutes so the flavors blend together. Peel, seed and cut the butternut squash into large, one-inch chunks. Wash and cut the carrots into large chunks as well. Add the stock to the soup pot, then the carrots and squash, then add enough water to barely cover the vegetables. Bring the pot to a boil, then simmer until the carrots are tender. Using a potato masher, crush the cooked vegetables and blend to your preference. I usually like to blend half leaving some of the mashed carrots and squash for some texture. Optional: stir in something creamy if desired – I prefer a half-can of coconut milk for an additional flavor. Add sour cream into the serving bowl as a garnish.
Climbing out of that fitness hole once the deep winter starts to thaw will be even easier with your nutrition and hearty meal preparations dialed. Best of all you’ll have earned round two and maybe even three of Grandma’s homemade pie that you couldn’t toss after the holiday’s, but is just waiting to be defrosted, whenever you may please.Tweet Print
Editor’s note: Beardo the Weirdo is our resident spiritual advisor and greasy wrench expert. You can usually find him in the pages of Bicycle Times but sometimes he fires up the dial-up modem and logs in here. Ask him anything at [email protected]—ANYTHING—and he’ll answer you. Be forewarned.
I’ve begun adding distance to my weekend rides, and I’m having a hard time finding food that doesn’t upset my stomach, but can still be eaten on the bike. Any ideas?
The first thing I gotta ask: why eat on the bike? The allure of pre-packed snacks is obvious, but the idea of eating on the bike has always struck me as something done by racers and those training to race. If that’s you, it might be a good idea to set aside some of your budget and experiment with the various options on the market. Gels, powders, bars, pills, fizzy lifting drinks, lots of options for the many types of bodies, metabolisms and activity levels.
Personally, I neither race nor eat what most people would consider pre-packed sports snacks. Not because I have anything against either thing; I think it might have to do with all the formaldehyde I was exposed to while hauling stage props as a roadie for Slayer, but ever since then I’m on a pretty strict diet of canned meats and white rice. Children’s vitamin supplements have kept the scurvy at bay to this point, but man, some days all I want to do is eat an orange and take a nap on the beach.
Potted meat is surprisingly easy to find at many supermarkets, and modern pop-tops make it possible to eat while riding without needing to carry a can opener. But why bother? I find it much more enjoyable to find a proper lunch spot, crack open a can of preserved meats, slurp the layer of fat off the top, and take a breather while chewing contemplatively on unknown muscle groups.
I’ll hazard a guess that my dietary oddities aren’t shared by many other riders, but I’ve found most other people enjoy stopping, getting off the bike, and taking on nourishment like a civilized human. Sitting down to eat with friends is a custom shared by many cultures, and regardless of how many gels you’ve sucked down while in the peloton, there isn’t really time to discuss world politics or what it smells like when you drop a glass jar containing a pig fetus of unknown age.
Some of my favorite big rides have been planned around a new or favorite lunch spot. Eat a big breakfast, pack a proper lunch (canned meat and rice soup is a favorite, and travels well in the Thermos), and enjoy the break as much as the ride. Even racer types might find this a welcome respite to the frantic consumption of plastic wrapped goodies. A nice sandwich—eaten between intervals—might make for a more motivating training ride.
Portrait of Yours Truly by Stephen Haynes
This review originally appeared in Issue #34 of Bicycle Times. To make sure you never miss an issue, order a subscription.Tweet Print