Food for cyclists?


Robin Strathdee

Recommended Posts

Hi all!

My little brother (15) is a competitive cyclist and looking to do his second Whole30 next month. He has, and is reading, the Paleo Diet for Athletes but was wondering if there was anything specific he needed to focus on as a cyclist.

For context, he's about 6'3 and maybe 150 lbs (seriously, I've considered putting weight gainer in his mashed potatoes).

Anyone got experience here?

Link to post
Share on other sites

My bf is 170lbs and 6'3". He rides road several times a week (not competitive) and he climbs too. Up until now, he has never been able to eat enough on a Whole30.

We recently bought an emulsifier (ours is the Montel Williams one) and he has been making "juices" for breakfast and snacks. I know that in general Whole9 prefers us mortals eat our food instead of drink it, but he is able to get so much good raw stuff this way that it has really helped with unwanted weight loss and energy levels. He basically makes a big salad and then turns it to mush and eats it.

For the rest of us it's been a great way to work more leafy greens into our nutrition. Plus, one of our family recently had some oral surgery and we've ground up entire meals (eggplant strata, etc) for her to eat.

Just a thought!

Link to post
Share on other sites

My boyfriend's younger brother is on Lance Armstrong's team, and comes from a long line of competitive (and olympian) cyclists.

He is definitely not paleo, but from what I've been told, the coaches and team nutritionists tend to be completely backwards in regards to what your body wants and needs considering the amount of training that they do. Their recommendations are to have only the bare minimum of protein a day, and will yell at you if they think you're eating too much. Logically, I get what they're trying to do: The less mass you have, the faster you can go on the bike, but personally I think it's definitely to the detriment of the cyclist's health.

For your brother, he'll just really need a BUNCH of carbs, and as much sleep as he can get. Tapioca's a good dense carb source, and one that Dallas used during his clean mass gain protocol, but is not that tasty without milk and sugar (unfortunately :( i LOVE tapioca)

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

There are several endurance athletes that endorse Paleo. The "train low, race high" theory seems to work for them. It's based on the idea of doing longer, slower training (below 75% max heart rate) in order to condition your body to use fat for fuel. As they body gets used to this, you can up your carb level before and during the event when you will be above 75% max heart rate.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sweet! Thanks Megan!

So far he's doing great. Finished 8/40 in his class at the Tulsa Tough this afternoon.Only his third real race and he's already one to watch.

WOW! that is phenomenal...imagine what he could be capable of when he gets the nutrition nailed down for fueling. Wish I would have known/eaten paleo as a kid.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm curious what W30 options there are for Cyclists who go on long rides and need to bring their food with them. For me I've always thrown a few gluten-free protein bars in my jersey, but these are def not W30. When you're on your bike for 5-6 hours, not having food with you isn't an option.

I guess dried fruit is an option.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Larabars are fine if you avoid the chocolate and peanut, etc. ones. I have not done a 5 hour ride on W30 but when I did 2 hrs a couple of weeks ago I took a nut, fruit and coconut chip trail mix and it was fine. Couldn't eat while riding but I don't like that anyway.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Gregory, they're TECHNICALLY W30, but they're frowned upon being used as anything other than an emergency, "OMG, i left all of my food on the train today, I'm out of the house for 12 hours, my coworkers are taunting me with sugarplums and pizza and candybars, i am going to DIE if i don't eat something NOW!" situation.

They're sugar bombs, and are really essentially a W30 approved candy bar, which is generally NOT a good food choice.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the suggestions. I thought Larabars were not W30... ?

The trailmix idea sounds great. I'm sure the sweet potato baby food tastes great, but I'm not sure how I'd carry it in my jersey without ensuring no mess.

oh, as for the sweet potato baby food goes, don't they have refillable gel capsules that fit into your jersey? like these? http://www.trisports.../ulgelflas.html

ETA: I don't actually know what I'm talking about. If I run further than 400m, I'm probably being chased by something

Link to post
Share on other sites

As far as baby food goes, I was talking about the newfangled ones with the twist off top. They're kind of like a giant ketchup packet with a plastic lid... But if you were going to spread your consumption out over a period of time, then yeah, I might be skeptical too.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Long rides? Cold, salted sweet potato chunks are great. So are grapes, dates (stuffed with almonds?) and if you have a large enough bag (like a trunk bag), bananas. If you are going to be out for a whole day and need a meal, a quick lunch of avocado mixed with tuna in a tupperware is a great to have out on the road. Supplement with some quick burning natural carbs (like grapes or dates) and you should be good to go.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

I'm on day 10 and feeling good but my endureance is not where it was prior to this.

I have a 200K bike ride in mid August which will equate to some 8 hours on the bike.

I would typically carbo load on whole grains prior to such a ride but that is out. I've been getting back to training (took most of the 1st week off to let my body adjust). I'm a little concerned that I won't have the energy for such a ride. This is compounded by the fact that the ride is self supported in rural AZ. There is one stop at a Safeway about 1/3 through were I can fuel up. The next stop is an unknown conutyr store by a lake.

Here is my plan thus far:

Pre-ride bkfst: Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, grapes, 1/2 banana

In my pockets: Bacon wrapped dates with an almond inside the date, sweet potato and peach/apple puree, lara bars, cashews

I figure I can get jerkey and nuts at the small store and something more substantial at the Safeway.

Any thoughts or feedback appreciated.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would also probably plan to have sweet potato with your dinner the night before the ride as well to up your glycogen stores a bit.

I have a friend who fills a stainless thermos with soup to take on her brevets, but that was in Oregon in the spring. AZ in August? I don't think I'd want anything hot! Maybe a cold gazpacho? Or a cold butternut squash soup?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a friend who fills a stainless thermos with soup to take on her brevets, but that was in Oregon in the spring. AZ in August? I don't think I'd want anything hot! Maybe a cold gazpacho? Or a cold butternut squash soup?

That isn't a bad idea at all. Maybe one bottle with gazpacho to start...hmmm.

The good news is my endurance seems to be coming back on line. I did a mountain bike ride last night and cleaned all the climbs and technical sections that I sometimes struggle with after working out and running earlier in the day. Today I feel no trace of the workouts.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 5 months later...

That isn't a bad idea at all. Maybe one bottle with gazpacho to start...hmmm.

The good news is my endurance seems to be coming back on line. I did a mountain bike ride last night and cleaned all the climbs and technical sections that I sometimes struggle with after working out and running earlier in the day. Today I feel no trace of the workouts.

Curious to see how your training goes. I'm on Day 9 and just got back from my first ride since starting. Just did a short/hilly home course to test the endurance and felt pretty good, but I came back wondering the same thing—when I do my first longer rides (Wildflower 100K in April), what will I bring? Supported rides are great for fruit and cookies but you can seriously gain weight after riding 100 miles if you're not careful.

@Rider29 It makes sense to train at lower heart rates while doing Whole30...thanks for that. It'll be a challenge where I ride but I'll just gear down, enjoy the scenery and think of all that fat I'm burning.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I posted a similar response on another thread. But it seems completely appropriate as an answer for this thread too.

I'm not an expert. I have no certified nutritional, sports physiology, or medical training. So, anything I say should be considered to be purely anecdotal for my own personal experiences and body type.

History: I am 5'4", 43yo man. Ten years ago, I weighed over 200lbs - >30% body fat, I'd never exercised a day in my life. I lost 50lbs by exercise and eating a VLC diet. I've kept the weight off, and dropped another 10% in body weight to get to where I am today. I am now 135lbs, ~13% body fat. I have been an active endurance athlete for the last 9 years. I have completed 8 one-day double century bike rides, and 7 Ironman races, as well as several 50 mile ultramarathons and Quadzillas (4 Marathons in 4 days back to back). I cycle on average 6,000 miles/year. In addition to running 1,200 miles/year and swimming 100,000 meters a year.

For the last 10 months, I've been eating a diet designed to be "metabolically efficient". That mostly means eating a ratio of 50% Fat, 30% Protein, and 20% Carbohydrates. Most of my CHO comes from green vegetables. I rarely eat fruits or high CHO vegetables like sweet potatoes. Maybe 5-7 servings per week.

With that background - here's how I approach my longer bike rides.

1) Water! Water is job 1, it's never going to give you GI distress. Every organized ride will have it. It won't spike your blood sugar and mess up your metabolism. You can't go wrong with water.

2) Bring my own food. Basically, I bring my own fruit/nut/protein fuel that works for me. I've been gluten free for years, so I'm rarely able to take advantage of the typical "rest stop" food. Bagles?! Wraps!? Chips!? etc... worthless to me. So I just bring my own. If I'm riding <=100 miles, I can easily fit all I need in my jersey pockets. If I'm doing a double century, then I often I have a friend or family member driving "personal support" who brings a cooler with my own food. This might include treats like a GF sandwich. But that's not Whole 30 compatible. If I was doing a double century on W30, I'd have things like sweet potatoes available for me in my "special needs" cooler.

3) Be Picky About Rest Stop Food - I will always check out the food at rest stops. Some race/ride directors are more aware of special needs and will have options that are not only healthy but whole30 compatible: fresh fruits, nuts, etc.

4) Generation UCAN - This is not Whole30 compatible. So I won't discuss it a ton. But it's my new (last 10 months) fuel of choice for RACE efforts over 4 hours. You can google it for more info on why it may be useful.

How much do I eat on training rides? How much do I eat on races?

  • Training rides under 4 hours... I only drink water.
  • Races under 4 hours -- water + ~200 kCals TOTAL during the race.
  • Races over 4 hours -- water + ~100kCals per hour.
  • Long training efforts at race pace I will treat like races. I will usually use race prep foods as a test for how those foods will work over the distance/effort I am training for.

Your mileage and macronutrients may vary. Good Luck.

Link to post
Share on other sites

@Brad. Been meaning to thank you for this very thorough and helpful post. Though I've had years where I've done several 100K rides in a season, I haven't really since 2007 when I was training for the AIDS Lifecycle ride. I've stayed on the bike, but not so many long, organized rides. And of course my weight and overall health have ping-ponged back and forth in step with whatever new, shiny eating regimen I was evangelizing at the time—from Primal Blueprint to Wheat Belly to Vegan to Diet Cure. Hard to sustain a good training schedule when you're always either starting, trying to maintain, or abandoning a whole new diet.

So Whole30 comes along and I'm 60, and 25 lbs. too heavy to ride as comfortably as I have, and in the throws of an epic sugar addiction. I've always been a proponent of the science behind a "clean" eating regimen, so I can ascend intellectually, just have always been derailed by the sugar dragon.

So now I'm on Day 23 and the good news the cravings are all but gone; I'm not planning my late night sweet binge WHILE I'm eating dinner. I've dropped 8.5 lbs. and 2 days ago rode my after-work 20-miler, which has one 3-mile nasty hill and the rest rollers, and without any Cliff Bars, Accelerade, Cliff Shots in my jersey pockets, just water, just kicked ass on it. And I was worried that riding in my upper zones would be a fail. Not the case. I felt great, consistent, like I had two extra gears. Could have done it twice but it got dark. So I've got that going for me. Which is nice. :)

The issue now is not whether I can finish the 30 days (I'm confident I can) but what things will be like when I start to re-introduce the stuff I've been avoiding. Pretty sure at this point sugar will be a permanently banned substance, either way, I fully plan to integrate Paleo mentality into my cycling fueling routine and between your advice and the other cyclists on this forum topic, have received some great coaching for the upcoming ride in April. So thanks again.

Link to post
Share on other sites

@Brad. Been meaning to thank you for this very thorough and helpful post.

So now I'm on Day 23 and the good news the cravings are all but gone; I'm not planning my late night sweet binge WHILE I'm eating dinner. I've dropped 8.5 lbs. and 2 days ago rode my after-work 20-miler, which has one 3-mile nasty hill and the rest rollers, and without any Cliff Bars, Accelerade, Cliff Shots in my jersey pockets, just water, just kicked ass on it. And I was worried that riding in my upper zones would be a fail. Not the case. I felt great, consistent, like I had two extra gears. Could have done it twice but it got dark. So I've got that going for me. Which is nice. :)

Thanks for the nice compliment. And more importantly Congrats on your recent cycling nutrition success! Keep it up!

In my opinion, there's no "training" reason to go back to non-whole30 ways.

Since ending Whole 30 (only been 4 days) I've allowed myself a couple deliberate "cheats"/"reintroductions"... And they were 2 for 3 on "things I'll do again".... namely, this morning I had paleo pancakes with Maple Syrup. I will do this again, because it's a family tradition... Sunday morning family breakfast. I have a 25 mile run scheduled for this afternoon... so the calories will get burned off.

On Friday, I had a single cocktail (Classic Gin Martini). I enjoyed it thoroughly, savoring every bit of flavor. But I had a wicked headache in the morning. I'll still do a cocktail every once in a while, but it will be a conscious treat consumed in a deliberate manner.

Last night I had gluten free/no cheese pizza... and honestly, It's just not worth the trouble. Like Melissa and Dallas say in ISWF, why bother with something that's a sad shadow replacement.

These three choices were in no way helpful from a training/nutrition perspective. I went into them knowing they were off-W30 "treats". And I walk out of them with a more informed awareness of what about them are "worth it" and/or "not worth it". That is how I will approach these or any "cheats" going forward.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.