FITNESS for the BODY, MIND and SOUL



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Many people  feel that because they are cyclists, and riding on a regular basis, that they can eat whatever they please; and they do.  Unfortunately, many of these same people are not achieving the results and goals that they have set out for themselves, whether it be lowering body fat, having more energy, or just being healthier.  Cyclists can "generally" eat more than the average person and control their weight more effectively because they burn more calories, but to really maximize their goals, cyclists need to eat in a very specific manner, which is different than the average person.  

Generally, the most effective eating plan for a cyclist is one which includes sufficient low-fat, high complex-carbohydrate foods to provide energy, and plenty of fluids for proper hydration. Although a high carbohydrate diet is the downfall of many people try to lose weight and lower body fat, it is absolutely essential for healthy and effective cycling.  It is virtually impossible to cycle effectively without providing your body with proper cycling nutrition.  Carbohydrates are the body's preferred source of energy for cycling.  A cyclist is continually burning the body's carbohydrate reserves in order to fuel the cycling as well as basic everyday activities, so these reserves must be replenished with a high-carbohydrate diet.  The best types of carbohydrates for cycling (and for good health in general) are fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, whole-grain breads, whole-grain brown rice and whole wheat pasta.  Meals should be rounded out with lean proteins (such as chicken or fish) and a moderate amount of healthy fat, such as olive oil.  

The timing of meals is almost as important as what you eat for cycling.  Approximately an hour before riding, you want to fuel up with a small meal or high-carbohydrate snack, such as fresh fruit and a half of a whole-wheat bagel with peanut butter (for a little added protein).  Ideally, you should wait 30-45 minutes after eating the fruit before you eat the rest of the meal as fruit does not digest well with other foods, and should always be eaten alone on an empty stomach.  This waiting period will allow the fruit to leave the stomach before combining with the other food, allowing for more efficient digestion, and the conservation of your vital energy reserves.  If your ride will be longer than 60 minutes, you will need to refuel with additional carbohydrates.  Most researchers recommend having between 30 and 40 additional grams of carbohydrates for each additional 30 minutes you ride "beyond" 60 minutes.  Ideas for this snack include a sports drink, an energy bar, or an easy to eat fruit like a banana.  Also, after a lengthy ride, it is important to eat a high-carb meal or snack within 60 minutes after the completion of the ride, in order to replenish the body's energy reserves and prepare it for your next ride.  

It is crucial for cyclists to drink ample fluids before, during and after a ride for proper hydration. Without proper hydration, dehydration is likely to occur, which can be one of the most unhealthy (and unpleasant) things that can happen to a person physically.  Drink "at least" 8 ounces of water immediately before a ride, another 8 ounces every 30 minutes during a ride, and a sufficient amount of water after the ride in order to gradually replace the fluids lost during the ride.