These days, talking about what you ate at your last meal is as common as talking about your bike setup. Everyone is talking about it. People mention the ingredients of their juice as casually as the ingredients of their bike; The ingredients that make it work.
The thing is, eating to fuel you and your bike up the mountain doesn’t have to be too complicated, so it’s very convenient. The foundations of a strong board are simple, just like riding a bike.
Let’s get back to basics: Build your meals with lean proteins, pair them with plants, and top them with fiber.
Protein is known for maintaining lean body mass or muscle. Protein also provides essential nutrients essential for optimal function of the brain and immune system such as zinc, B vitamins, iron and selenium. Protein has also been shown to help control cardiovascular disease, and support a healthy weight. Some healthy options may include lean meats, fish, tofu, eggs, cheese and yogurt.
All adults, especially athletes, should aim to eat well-balanced meals that contain a similar amount of protein at each meal. This will support optimal absorption and maximum utilization of the protein and nutrients available. A good way to achieve this goal is to “stack your proteins” by adding multiple sources of protein at each meal to reach your desired intake and ensure a good mix of beneficial nutrients. Think oatmeal, made with your choice of milk, collagen protein powder, walnuts on top, and a side of yogurt or cottage cheese.
Now that you’ve equipped your plate with protein, load it up with plants. This is the power of the board; The crank arm, if you will. They provide vital nutrients that trigger various processes in the body, and antioxidants that protect against everyday stresses, including the stress of athletic pursuits. Fruits and vegetables also provide us with fiber. Aim for a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables with each meal.
Finally, “gas” with carbohydrate sources. Instead of focusing on “good” or “bad” carbs, focus on fiber-rich grains, vegetables, and legumes. Some good examples include oats, brown rice, quinoa, whole-grain bread, lentils, beans, and starchy fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, corn, and bananas. These are what will provide the power needed to push through the pedal stroke, balance in the technical rock section, and go the distance.
These instructions are recommended for building a pre and post activity board. During activity, our needs for energy, protein, and fiber change. The body will rely largely on carbohydrates for moderate to high intensity activities, such as mountain biking and cycling, that last more than 45 minutes. For this, consider choosing low-fiber carbohydrates, such as honey, energy chews or sports drinks to provide quick energy without any abdominal distress.
Think of healthy plate pillars as different components on your bike. They all work together to improve your performance. Sure, we can add fancy ingredients and supplements, just like fines for shaving or a quick change, but the framework is simple and will keep us rolling.
Kat is a registered dietitian for 10 years who has helped athletes of all ages achieve their performance goals, and she also serves as a program and event coordinator for Root County Riders.