Become a Better Cyclist: Nutrition Basics

Good nutrition and a balanced diet is important for everyone, but you could argue that it is even more important for those who are active; particularly if you’re actively trying to improve at your sport!

Having a basic understanding of nutrition is important from a health perspective, so let’s jump in!

What are macronutrients?

Protein, carbohydrates and fat are called “macronutrients” because they are needed in relatively large amounts. They have slightly different functions in your body.

As cliche as it sounds, protein really is your body’s building blocks. It is made up of 20 different amino acids – some essential, and some non-essential – and is responsible for repairing, maintaining and growing tissue, including muscle tissue.

Protein is found in almost all foods, but complete and essential amino acids are really only found in meat and dairy products. Legumes, tofu and other vegan protein sources are great dietary additions, but have a lowered ability to repair and grow muscle tissue.

Carbohydrates are your quickest energy source, and will make up the majority of the daily caloric intake for most people. Carbs, as they’re also known, can be further segmented into sugars, starches and dietary fiber.

Carbs are converted to simple sugars like glucose and fructose in your small intestine and can quickly be released into your bloodstream for a burst of energy. It can also be converted into glycogen and stored for when you need it later – particularly during exercise!

Food sources that contain carbohydrates in spades include bread, pasta, vegetables and fruits, and all sorts of sweets.

Dietary fats, like carbohydrates, can be divided into several subcategories: saturated fats, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol. It is a complex and confusing topic in and of itself.

Sources of  “healthy” fats include avocados, fish, nuts and seeds, and cooking oils like olive oil. Saturated fats and trans fats are the types that you’ll want to limit, which is found in all the tasty foods we love: chips, bacon, butter, ice cream, pies, pastries, pizza and burgers.

What are micronutrients?

The reason for micronutrients’ name is the same as macronutrients; they are needed in small doses, usually less than 100 milligrams per day. Examples of micronutrients are vitamins like vitamin A, B, C – and so on – and minerals like iron and zinc.

Multivitamin tablet may be the most common dietary supplement in the world, though it is largely regarded as unnecessary unless you have nutritional deficiencies that you cannot adapt to. If you’re a healthy individual with a balanced and nutritious diet, you are probably already covering your micronutrient needs.

Image source: Examine.com

What should I eat before a ride?

Carbohydrates are especially good before working out, as its energy is easily converted and used by the body for the energy you’ll need to get through strenuous exercise! Adding a source of protein to your pre-workout meal is also a great idea, as it will help your body repair the stress you put on your muscle tissue when exercising.

Caffeine is the most common performance enhancing drug in the world, and has a long list of physical and cognitive effects, including increased alertness and increased strength output. Consider having a cup of coffee or tea before hopping on the bike.

What should I eat after a ride?

Post-workout nutrition is arguably more important than what you eat beforehand. This is the meal that will help repair muscle tissue and replenish the energy you just spend!

A well balanced meal is in order here: protein will repair and rebuild muscle tissue, carbohydrates will help replenish the energy (glycogen) stored in your muscles, and fat will give you that long-term energy to keep you going for hours more.

As big advocates of weekend rides with friends and family, a classic Aussie cafe breakfast is pretty ideal! Smashed avo on toast with bacon or a generous helping of savoury mince should cover all of your needs and keep you going for the rest of the day!

If you want more in-depth information regarding nutrition, you can read the Australian dietary guidelines online here.

This blog is a part of our Become a Better Cyclist series. You can find the previous entries here:

 

 

 

This blog does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the cycle2city blog. Consult your GP before making changes to your exercise regimen or diet.


The health benefits of cycling

Regular physical activity is extremely important for our health. In particular, it can protect you from serious diseases such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, diabetes and arthritis. Riding your bicycle regularly is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of health problems cyclephotoassociated with a sedentary lifestyle.

Cycling is a healthy, low-impact exercise that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, from young children to older adults. It is also fun, cheap and good for the environment.

Cycling is:

  • Low impact – it causes less strain and injuries than most other forms of exercise.
  • A good muscle workout – cycling uses all of the major muscle groups as you pedal.
  • Easy – unlike some other sports, cycling does not require high levels of physical skill. Most people know how to ride a bike and, once you learn, you don’t forget.
  • Good for strength and stamina – cycling increases stamina, strength and aerobic fitness.
  • As intense as you want – cycling can be done at very low intensity to begin with, if recovering from injury or illness, but can be built up to a demanding physical workout.
  • A fun way to get fit – the adventure and buzz you get from coasting down hills and being outdoors means you are more likely to continue to cycle regularly, compared to other physical activities that keep you indoors or require special times or places.
  • Time-efficient – as a mode of transport, cycling replaces sedentary (sitting) time spent driving motor vehicles or using trams, trains or buses with healthy exercise.

And cycling regularly has several health benefits such as:

  • increased cardiovascular fitness
  • increased muscle strength and flexibility
  • improved joint mobility
  • decreased stress levels
  • improved posture and coordination
  • strengthened bones
  • decreased body fat levels
  • prevention or management of disease
  • reduced anxiety and depression.

Riding to work is one of the most time-efficient ways to combine regular exercise with your everyday routine. It only takes two to four hours a week to achieve a general improvement to your health.

As well as the many health benefits of cycling, there are also several economical, environmental, social and mental well-being benefits of regularly riding your bike.

Information retrieved from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/cycling-health-benefits


The Road to an Active Lifestyle

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We all know that it can be hard to find the motivation to get up and get active, especially when emerging from a dark and cool winter. It’s difficult to keep yourself going, and we’re all great with coming up with reasons not to be active.  But then we remember the many benefits that being regularly active brings, from the obvious health ones to having more energy and feeling more positive, and we want to get going! So where to from here?

1. Start small – Throwing yourself in the deep end often results in a loss of interest, so start by doing something small and light. Keep the momentum going and gradually add a little bit more time or intensity to the activity.

2. Do bite-size sessions – Break a large session up into a few smaller sessions.

3. Variety is key – Don’t let yourself get bored. Whatever activity you are doing, make sure you vary the locations, distances and terrains where possible to maintain interest.

4. Be flexible – People who adjust their exercise routine to accommodate for their lifestyle are more likely to keep exercising than those who don’t. Avoid an all-or-nothing mentality – making it work for you will help you achieve your goals faster.

5. Get active together – There is no better motivator than exercising with friends, family or a group. Having support and encouragement to get out there when you least feel like it can make all the difference. Find someone who shares your goals, then encourage each other and enjoy your activities together.

6. Be kind to yourself – It is important that you take care of your joints and muscles as best you can to prevent injury. Be sure to stretch and warm up sufficiently, take rest days regularly to give yourself a chance to heal and treat yourself to frequent massages to soothe away any aches and pains. This will all help you to keep in top shape and enjoy your exercise for longer.

7. Reward yourself – When you reach a milestone in your new plan, treat yourself to something that is important to you.

8. Set an achievable goal – Your motivation will be much easier to maintain if you set a goal for yourself that is both achievable and rewarding. Make sure it really matters to you and working towards it will become so much easier.

Follow these 8 simple steps and begin your journey towards a healthy and active lifestyle.

Source: http://beachseries.co.nz/top-tips-for-getting-active-after-the-winter-hibernation/


Is coffee doing more harm than good?

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There is often much talk about whether coffee consumption is beneficial to our health or whether it has a negative impact on our body. That morning wake-up coffee is enjoyed by thousands of Australians every day, but many of us don’t really know the effect that it is having on our body. Previous studies have found conflicting evidence on the impact of coffee on health, with some evidence suggesting that it has beneficial effects on the immune system and cognitive performance, and others suggesting it can raise blood pressure and alter insulin activity.

However, recent studies suggest that people under the age of 55 who drink an average of four cups of coffee a day are at a 56% greater risk of death from all causes. This may be due to heavy coffee consumption influencing other unhealthy behaviours, such as going to sleep late and having a poor diet. This study also found that those who drank larger amounts of coffee were more likely to smoke and had less healthy lungs and hearts. 

Because drinking coffee forms a large part of modern living in our society, it’s easy to lose track of how much we are actually consuming. Drinking coffee in moderation, like most other things, can be beneficial to our health, however drinking too much can have a greater impact on our health than we may realise. 

 

Image and Source:  http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/aug/15/coffee-drinkers-risk-death-rate


Go Bananas!

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It’s simple – Smart Bananas are smart bananas. Not only are they environmentally smart, they are also energy, size and health smart. Grown in North Queensland, the warm and wet climate provides the most ideal conditions for these bananas to grow.

The family-run Smart Banana industry ensures that the trees and environment are both balanced and undamaged in order for the sweetest and perfect sized bananas to be produced. All bananas are hand selected and ideally presented in nature’s clean, hygienic and biodegradable packs which actually use less plastic packaging than other bananas sold at stores and supermarkets, making them a friendlier and more sustainable product.

These Smart Bananas are sold in various markets around Australia, but more excitingly in Australia’s first fresh banana vending machine! They are nature’s perfect health food, being both a natural source of fibre and absolutely fat free, so grab one from the new and exciting vending machine located in Post Office Square.

For more information about Smart Bananas, visit their website www.smartbanana.com.au

Source and Image: www.smartbanana.com.au


The Importance of Zzz’s

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Recent studies have shown that not getting those 6-8 hours of sleep that our body needs each night can lead to serious health implications – even losing just one single night’s sleep can have an immediate effect on the body. Extensive research has demonstrated that a lack of shut-eye and disrupted sleeping patterns can suppress the immune function and increase the chances of heart attacks and potentially fatal cardiovascular disorders. Various other negative factors have been associated with sleep deprivation, including evidence that it could physically shrink the size of your brain. Other factors include:

  • Poor hand-eye coordination
  • Visual and auditory delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Weight loss
  • Tissue-damaging inflammation
  • Sugary and fatty food cravings
  • Risky decision-making
  • Changes in gene activity

Therefore the importance of a good night’s sleep is crystal clear – ensure those 6-8 hours of Zzz’s are acquired each night and your body will without a doubt thank you for it.

 

Image: http://www.sprypub.com/tag/dr-moyads-mens-health-newsletter/

Source: http://news.discovery.com/human/health/sleep-loss-deprivation-health-effect-20130624.htm