We all started somewhere, and there are a lot of myths out there (usually from 'Dave'...), but looking back at when I first started there are three clear facts that I wish I knew. To save you the hassle of misinformation, getting it wrong or even giving up entirely, here are my top three beginner nutrition tips.
Covered in this blog:
- Café stops are not mandatory
- Pre-ride nutrition is king
- Go with what you know
Café stops are not mandatory
Stopping at a café is as closely linked with cycling as lycra, but is it actually any good for you?
It is easy to get over excited at your mid point café stop and too much (or the wrong) food.
Even taking into account the calories you will burn during your ride, a coffee, a couple of slices of cake and a sandwich might easily consist of over 1000 calories. Not to mention your body will not be in a state to ride - that bloated and sluggish feeling doesn't help you ride faster...
We have all been there and done it. I remember going mental on two chocolate brownies half way through a century and feeling horrendous as I set off to complete the final 50 miles of the trip. This lasted a good hour and then I was back to normal, but really, it isn’t worth it.
Nor is overeating beneficial to your fitness, if you are looking to drop some pounds or just get faster on the bike.
Instead, have a flapjack and a black coffee, and get back on the bike in good time, or just don’t stop at all!
Pre ride nutrition is king
Getting your nutrition right before you get on the bike is one of the most important things you can do. The feeling of being full and fuelled well before you ride is unbeatable.
You may have heard of carb loading, but what actually is it?
Simply put, it is where you digest more carbs the day (or more) before a ride. It essentially loads the body with fuel and research suggests this is effective for sports that last longer than 90 minutes. So, if you are hitting a big distance ride, depending on your average pace, this more than likely means most days.
My go to carb loading routine is always oats in the morning the day before, and then a potato in the evening. Oats for breakfast the morning of. This, combined with the right amount of protein, is perfect for getting the body ready for a day on the bike.
Don’t neglect vegetables and fruit, these foods are also essential for maintaining a healthy body.
Go with what you know
Never experiment the day before a big event or ride, that means a lot to you ("A" event). If it goes right it’s fantastic, and you can be very happy about it, but the off chance it doesn’t, and it ruins your ride you will be furious with yourself. Experiment during training, never in competition or key events.
Take the time to note what works for you and what doesn’t. It is very likely that what works for me, wont necessarily work for you. Take advice on nutrition and learn from it, but also understand how your body works and what it responds well to. Nutrition is very complex and individual. You can’t take a one size fits all approach.
When it comes to cycling, we all have to make it our personal journey. It’s a great learning experience and I love looking back at what I know now versus what I used to know when I started.
Follow these three tips and you will be on your way to becoming fitter, faster and stronger for sure.
About The Author: Adam Copley
Adam is a self-employed coach based in Sheffield, UK. Alongside this he is an avid cyclist and competes in cross country mountain biking across the UK. He has raced Cyclocross during the winter and is also a huge lover of road cycling. While he's not working on his business, he is usually out on two wheels getting fitter, and enjoying the fresh air and many climbs in the peak district.