‘Cross diary 10: I experiment with sports nutrition

May 1, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Posted in cycling | 3 Comments
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Well. I may not have been down the park practising my remounts just yet, but I’ve not been shirking. I have been TRAINING*. And getting hungry.

So. Sports nutrition! As you know, sports nutrition falls into three categories:

  1. Things you eat before you go out
  2. Things you eat while you are out
  3. Things you eat when you get back

I present here a detailed breakdown of these three categories, based on my extensive experience of eating and drinking the wrong things at the wrong times.

  1. Eating before you go out

This is the most important bit (apart from number 3, which is possibly even more important). Eat before you go out training. While some people swear training on an empty stomach encourages your body to use up fat stores, this has to be nonsense. Even crazy cabbage-soup-dieters know you need breakfast. Have some.

What to eat before you go out:

Porridge is recommended by lots of people. However, the high water content may mean you need to stop for a wee every ten minutes, which is inconvenient in bibshorts. Bananas are good, if you like them. Bread has a reputation for giving runners, well, the runs; but this may be worth it, for a bacon butty. @spandelles swears by eating an apple before riding about 90 miles. OK.


Note: Possibly more important than what you have for breakfast is what you ate the night before. Curry consumption has been shown in extensive testing** to be correlated with running very well the next day. And no, not for the reason you think.

  1. Eating while you are out

Drinking while going along is fine. Unless you are on course for a national 10-mile TT record, however, stop before you eat anything. Whether @Velominati approve or not, eating while riding along is only cool if you can do it without hitting the kerb and going over the handlebars. And take your wrappers home with you.

What to eat while you are out:

Even no-hopers like me can get away with a bit of energy drink while riding. As you zip past, passers-by will probably confuse you with someone who knows what they are doing. Avoid energy gels, sports beans, yogurt-coated technical filth bars and suchlike, though, if you are a bit rubbish. They’ll just emphasise to you the gaping chasm between you and Proper Sportspeople.

Instead, take something pocket-sized with you, and eat it. Tracker bars, fairy cakes, those strawberry fruit bars you buy for the kids’ lunchboxes, and chunks of bagel are all good. Anything with a bit of chocolate in it is cheery and motivating. Try to remember to eat something before you start wondering why you are bothering, you hate cycling anyway, bloody sunshine, what on earth are you doing, and snarling at riders who wave at you. These are classic symptoms of The Bonk, and mean it is already too late.

Hres fairy cake

  1. Eating when you get back

On this, I’ll refer you to @Doctor_Hutch, who states correctly here that ‘you can’t leave eating till you’ve had a shower, done your hair and made some stylish selections from your wardrobe.’  However, the need to eat has to be balanced with the need to get out of your horrible sweaty rain-soaked kit immediately, before you lose your toes to frostbite. The best solution is to make a snack while your bath is running, then combine refuelling with decontamination.

What to eat when you get back

A yogurt and a cup of tea in the bath. Then have some normal lunch as soon as possible.

Pink Bath 34/365

* in the specific @accidentobizaro sense of the word; see this for clarification

** in my home laboratory

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