What I Eat For Cycling: Part 1
I’ve presented or been a part of several women’s cycling events and forums in the past and one of the things that seems to interest quite a few people is what to eat in order to fuel yourself properly for cycling, training or gym workouts.
I’ll cover on-the-bike, race and away from home nutrition in part two of this post; here in part one I’ll focus on the day-to-day food I consume when I’m at home.
I really enjoy food and cycling really fires up my appetite but I take a sensible approach 90% of the time and don’t just stuff myself with any old rubbish, mainly because it doesn’t fill me up like ‘real’ food but also because I know it’s not particularly good for me. I don’t follow a special diet and I don’t cook using weird, hard to source ingredients, such as chia seeds, coconut oil, brown rice syrup and all that stuff. Those kinds of things are really, really expensive and I don’t have a lot of money, plus, I don’t like to be such a blind sheep and conform to whatever silly thing the marketing people are rubbing their hands in glee about this month. I just eat normal food.
In a week, I probably eat cake once or twice, have a few biscuits several times and possibly pinch a few of Dave’s sweets or have an ice-cream if it’s summer. I’ll eat crisps if Dave buys them, ditto chips, but to be honest I tend to crave something like peanut butter on toast way more than anything like that.
Going out with Dave has definitely normalized my eating habits and helped me find balance in what I’m eating. In the dark and distant past I worked as a model and developed all sorts of peculiar anxieties about food because of how much I needed to restrict my eating in order to be sufficiently tiny. The guilt of eating a chocolate bar was enough to send me into a spiral of despair but Dave’s happy enjoyment of stuff like that rubbed off on me and I now longer suffer from the same issues. It’s just a chocolate bar! Cycling really helped with that too – you can’t ride properly if you don’t eat well and a piece of cake post ride always feels well earned rather than gluttonous.
Anyway, let’s begin with toast, because that’s how I start my day. I’m not shy of carbs because I love them and I need a lot of them to fuel my training. I’m not coeliac, so I have no need to avoid gluten. Dave makes huge loaves of bread using a mixture of plain, wholemeal, brown and rye flours and I’ll have a couple of thick slices toasted with peanut or cashew butter, marmite and jam (on separate pieces, not together!) Two cups of builders tea and I’m good to go until mid-morning when I have a piece of fruit.
Lunch is usually a protein rich soup, such as lentil, plus homemade bread with hummus or occasionally cheese. I’ll usually have some tomatoes, cucumber, carrots or something like that as well. If there’s no soup, I’ll have a sandwich or a salad made of buckwheat, beetroot, feta, whatever salad stuff I have lurking in the bottom of the fridge and a dressing of lemon juice and olive oil.
Mid afternoon, I may have a couple of biscuits and a cup of tea if I’m just working at home rather than doing much training. If I’m hungry, I’m off to the gym or just back from a hard training ride I might have toast with peanut butter or sardines, Greek yoghurt with a sprinkle of nuts, dried fruit and honey, or a piece of fruit.
Dinner is something I always look forward too and Dave and I nearly always cook everything from scratch. I don’t eat meat so typical meals are:
Quorn spaghetti Bolognese.
Smoked Mackerel and vegetable stir fry with noodles.
Coconut and spinach daal with rice.
Spaghetti with tomato, tuna, capers and olives.
Black bean and butternut squash burritos with cheese, salsa and guacamole.
The portions I eat are fairly substantial, though I try not to eat an enormous lunch as it just makes me want to have a nap! And speaking of sleep, I try and avoid eating large meals late evening (which can be difficult if I have an evening race) as it stops me sleeping properly.
And that’s it. Stay tuned for part 2 where I’ll discuss the foods and drinks I consume as part of my training and how I fuel myself when I’m racing or away from home.