July 9, 2013
The following is a guest post by Holly Powell.
Cycle touring is an intense physical activity, so it can really take a toll on the human body. As you ease into a tour, you’re building up your muscles and burning tons of calories, and you need a lot of energy and nutrients to stay on top of that. Here are a few examples of foods to look for while on tour, if you need a boost.
Most notably, blueberries! It’s rare that you find something so good for you that is actually delicious, so berries are loved by athletes everywhere. Berries are stuffed full of antioxidants, and they’re especially good for cyclists as they help neutralise free radicals that could damage your cells. Free radicals occur when your body converts oxygen to energy, and since cyclists do so much of that berries are a fantastic addition to their diet. Cherries also contain anti-inflammatory molecules that supress and look after the micro tears in muscles.
With all that activity each day cyclists need more protein than most. Salmon and Tuna provide a great source of protein with the addition of lots of healthy oils and omega-3 fatty acids. Not only does omega-3 reduce inflammation in your arteries, but it also keeps your immune system strong. Research also suggests that it helps enhance blood flow to your muscles; perfect for long days in the saddle. Two to three servings a week should do the trick!
Red Peppers are extremely high in vitamin C. You might have thought citrus fruits would rank highest for vitamin C content, but raw red peppers are the very best source. Add them to salads or eat them straight up. They're cold, crisp, and delicious, and easy to find in rural grocery stores.
Another fantastic source of antioxidants, green tea is available at almost any coffee shop and is lightweight and packable if you want to carry it with you. It’s at its most effective if it has been steeped for a long time, so try brewing some overnight at camp and drinking it cold the next morning. If you find the taste too bitter, you can add honey or some juice to make it sweeter.
Soy beans contain a special kind of amino acid that stops muscle degradation during long rides. Soy snacks like tofu are a great source of protein for on-the-go energy and are packed with calcium and iron.
You may only add small quantities of spices to your food, but it’s well worth it if you’re a cyclist, as turmeric contains an incredible anti-inflammatory called curcumin; adding a bit of turmeric to your dinner at night can significantly reduce muscle inflammation the next day. There's some debate that small quantities of turmeric won’t produce any notable effects, but you can buy supplements with turmeric in the perfect state to be absorbed.
Cucumber is something that’s easy to add to your diet, it's cheap, and easy to throw in a pannier. Good thing too, because it’s a great source of silica, which helps to ensure collagen elasticity in tendons and cartilage, so aches and pains are reduced and you maintain your body’s flexibility, very beneficial to cyclists! It’s also fantastic for your skin, and there’s no harm in that as an added benefit.
HOLLY POWELL wrote this guest post on behalf of Felt at Global Bike, a great online store for any keen cyclist.