We all know that diet plays an important part in our general health and well-being but have you ever wondered if eating something different can improve your cycling performance? Whether you are a competitive cyclist looking to improve your times, a participant in Race Harborough’s Festival of Cycling or someone who just cycles for fun, if you try these five foods you should be able to improve your cycling speed in training, a cycle race or on your Sunday afternoon cycle ride…
Protein packed salmon
High in protein and health boosting omega 3, there are so many different delicious ways to eat salmon. However, not only does it taste great, it can also help you to improve your cycling performance and make you cycle faster. Jay Udani, MD, an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine and CEO of Medicus Research believes that ‘Omega-3s generally increase blood flow’ and that ‘This may help wash out inflammatory cells in damaged muscles’.
You may not understand how that would possibly help. So, in plain English, this ‘washing out’ will help improve your performance because it reduces soreness in your muscles and therefore ensures that you can get the most out of your ride.
Food tips and ideas: A salmon and potato salad makes a great lunch before a cycle, or for more great salmon recipes visit BBC Good Food.
Get your vitamins with kale
Losing weight not only has significant health benefits, it can dramatically help you reduce your time. On average, every kilo of weight you lose takes off an amazing 6 seconds of your time on a 40km time trial.
One way you can lose weight is eating kale, which is packed with vitamins and a great source of folic acid. In fact, a study that was published in the British Journal of Nutrition said that those participants who ate foods that contained folate ended up losing eight and half times more than the other dieting participants who ate less folate. Why is this? Nutritionists believe that that folate can help you to lose weight because it steadies your insulin levels. In turn, this encourages your body to burn fats from the foods you eat instead of storing the fats which leads to weight gain.
Food tips and ideas: If you want to lose weight by eating foods containing folate, try some of these recipes.
Eggs – an everyday source of protein
Like any form of exercise, cycling places strain on the body. Every time you exercise, your muscles need to recover so that they can refuel and repair. So therefore, recovery is a very important factor in improving your cycling performance, because your muscles need to be as fresh as they can be to get your best time.
Eggs are a great recovery food for your muscles. Versatile and economical, eggs contain high levels of protein and this protein equips your body with amino acids that helps your body repair muscles.
Food tips and ideas: Eat some boiled eggs after your ride as a snack, or eat egg-based meals, here are some ideas for including eggs in your meals.
Go faster during a cycle race with green tea
Green tea is more than a fashionable drink. Although technically not a food, green tea has some great health benefits and just had to be included in our top 5 foods you should eat before a cycle race. In Japan, research found that green tea extracts have the ability to improve your exercise endurance by up to 24% – which means you can dramatically change your cycling speed just by drinking green tea! We certainly like the sound of that.
It is thought that the antioxidant in green tea reduces the speed of your body’s digestion, regulating your blood sugar levels and preventing energy crashes during a cycling session…
Food tips and ideas: Sip green tea before your ride or even while cycling. Want to make your own green tea? Here’s a great website…Green iced tea.
Fancy a jelly baby?
Understandably, you will be surprised to see jelly babies are in our top 5 foods you should eat before a cycle race. It’s true that they aren’t the healthiest of cycling snacks, but amazingly they could make you go faster. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Bath found that consuming carbohydrates during exercise could improve your cycling performance. The researchers wanted to test to see whether a carbohydrate drink could improve Olympic triathletes’ performance more than a flavoured-water placebo. The researchers found that those participants who drank the carbohydrate drink improved their running performance by four per cent, suggesting that having some carbohydrates during your ride could help to make you cycle faster.
However, these need to be high GI, quickly digested carbs, so foods like pasta won’t do the trick as they won’t get digested quickly enough to provide you with the energy boost you are looking for. Instead, go for foods that give you a carb hit quickly – such as jelly babies. If you don’t believe the research, give it a try and see what you think.
Food tips and ideas: Jelly babies aren’t the only carbohydrate sweets; Protein bars and other sport bars can also contain carbohydrates.