Once in a while, you may find yourself out in the woods or on the road on a long ride. Everything is going fine, you’re feeling strong, and all of the sudden, BANG, you feel like you’ve hit the proverbial wall. This can happen for a number of reasons, primary among them is the nutritional value of your diet. There is the old homage of you get out of something what you put into it. In other words, you put crap into yourself, you get crap out of yourself. This is exceedingly true for endurance athletes.
I know from personal experience that it is difficult with our daily lives to be both cyclists and employees, parents, husbands, wives and so on. I know from very personal experience that it is sometimes easiest to just stop by your local McDonald’s or Wendy’s drive-thru in order to just grab a “quick bite” to eat. However, this isn’t always the best thing for you to do. The grease in the fast food gets into your hearts arteries, clogging them up and forcing the heart to work double time in order to provide your body with much needed oxygen to supply your muscles, providing them with crucial energy during periods of heavy physical exertion.
If you’re looking for a relatively quick fix, try some wheat pasta instead with a light sauce. It’ll take you no more than fifteen to twenty minutes to prepare. That’s about the same amount of time it would have taken you to swing by the drive through and get home. And on top of that, you don’t even have to burn the extra gas to get to the fast food restaurant just to pick up your meal. And the reason I previously stated wheat pasta is because it’s healthier for you than the white pasta noodles as it has undergone little to no processing and is more natural in content than the white pasta is, putting more natural ingredients into your body than the white pasta so many of us are so fond of eating.
Also, try some blueberries once in awhile. They’re high in antioxidants. Antioxidants help to prevent cellular damage and are a great asset in recovery after a grueling workout. Also, one cup of blueberries only has 84 calories plus a good healthy dose of potassium, manganese, vitamin c, fiber, and copper.
Next, we come to carrots. While carrots have many benefits, we’ll focus on the most important ones to cyclists as this page is in essence, dedicated to cycling. First, carrots help to prevent heart disease. Now, we all know as cyclists that a healthy heart is crucial to being a successful cyclist, whether you’re trying for a new fastest time on your route from your house to work or you’re trying to hit a new mileage goal. Also, carrots help to flush out the system by providing it with Vitamin A which is crucial in flushing out toxins in the body. It helps to reduce the fat and bile in the liver.
Also, try eating some greens or spinach once in a while. These are great sources for iron. Iron helps to increase red blood cell count in the body. Red blood cells are the blood cells which carry oxygen throughout the body. More oxygen to the body’s blood stream means a lack of lactic acid build up as oxygen helps to combat the build up of lactic acid. Lactic acid is partially responsible for cramping in muscles in day to day life whether on the bike or sitting on the couch in front of the television at home. More iron, in essence, means more pedaling with fewer cramps.
Finally, but not nearly the least important, is proper hydration. Unlike the mind set of the 1990’s anti-carb kick, a bottle of Gatorade is a good thing once in awhile. It’s got crucial carbohydrates and electrolytes to support the body’s nervous system and endurance. Gatorade is a great thing to consume the day before a long ride as it will provide the body with a great source of energy in its carbohydrates and will pump the body full of electrolytes which help to allow the body to absorb much needed water into the blood stream, keeping you more hydrated along your rides. Another reason for cramping is dehydration. The body’s muscles don’t contain enough fluid to keep them plyable and flexible, making them more susceptible to cramping. The sodium in the Gatorade helps the body to absorb water into the blood stream. Without enough sodium in the body, the water will just get flushed out and you will dehydrate faster.
So, keep in mind that when you’re getting ready for a big event or just have to get to work the next day, proper nutrition can get you where you’re going more efficiently than a quick swing by the drive-through. Also, it will make your rides much more enjoyable because you will have to worry less and less about when you are going to feel your first signs of a nasty charlie horse popping up and will allow you to focus more on the ride its-self.