– By Selene Yeager
You’ve heard a gazillion times that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and sports nutritionists agree that whether you want to burn fat, ride fast or both, front-loading your day is essential. But plenty of cyclists disagree on the particulars of a smart morning meal: Fat-phobic bonk trainers suggest skipping it until after you ride, long riders fuel up like lumberjacks, and racers search endlessly for the perfect winning fuel.
What you eat depends largely upon what kind of ride you’re going to be doing. The idea is to keep your muscles energised, your brain focused and the rest of your systems firing on all cylinders no matter what. “You first need to look at the duration and intensity of the ride ahead,” says Florida-based sports nutritionist Barbara Lewin, RD “Then you need to take in foods that give you the fuel to perform your best.” Here’s how.
*Kilojuoles are based on a 70kg rider. Add or subtract portion sizes proportionally based on your body weight.
Kilojoules: 800 to 1200
Time before: Thirty to 45 minutes
Strategy: You don’t need much for a sub-two- hour ride. But don’t skip breakfast. “You’ll go into deprivation mode, and risk overeating later,” says Lewin. Just 800 to 1200 kilojoules will replace the glucose you lost while you slept and let you ride longer. Exercisers who eat a small breakfast are able to work out 16 percent longer before tiring, according to one study. Include foods with fibre. “Fibre can also increase the amount of fat you burn during exercise,” Lewin says. It slows digestion, so your glycogen is harder to access, which forces your body to pull energy from your fat stores.
Meal Plan: One cup of oats and half a banana