A cyclists diet is constantly changing based upon the rides that day, the upcoming rides and races, as well as the time of the year. Despite these changes, one thing that remains centered is that there is always a reason for what we are eating whether it’s for fuel or pleasure. We are human so keeping a regimented diet of only the things that are healthy for us is unrealistic. We have those periods of time where we eat whatever we want but that is balanced with periods of eating precisely for athletic performance. You don’t have to have your diet dialed 100% of the time but knowing what that diet is for you will give you a goal that you can shoot for.
The diet of a cyclist doesn’t start with what you eat. It starts with your lifestyle. A lifestyle that consists of taking care of yourself and planning what is best for you, for your cycling goals and your life in general. This lifestyle then translates into a way of eating which consists of good, wholesome food that becomes your diet all the time, not just for periods of riding or weight loss. Making a habit of buying foods that are fresh and actually food, not processed, is the first step to a achieving an ideal cyclist’s diet.
With these wholesome foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, dairy, and grains, you can now construct well rounded meals for your lifestyle. If you don’t already have a bit of knowhow on cooking, learn. Knowing a few things in the kitchen can take you a long way where you can quickly and easily make tasty meals that hit all your nutritional needs.
A cyclist’s diet is always well-rounded and balanced with foods that provide energy, support recovery, as well as make you feel full so you don’t continue to eat past what is ideal. Along with meeting these macro-nutrient needs you also need to meet your bodies micro-nutrient requirements. Micro-nutrients are vitamins and minerals that your body requires but can’t make to complete basic cellular functions. These requirements are met by eating a well-rounded diet consisting of plenty of fruits and vegetables that are constantly changing. This means that you don’t buy the same broccoli, pepper, and onion every time you go to the store. Mix things up and use those skills in the kitchen to create something tasty.
Another component of a cyclist’s diet is planning ahead for your eating needs. One of the biggest downfalls in eating well is not having the proper food on hand ready to eat. As a human, you know that you are going to need to eat multiple times a day every day for pretty much every day of your life. Planning ahead and getting the right foods before you run out of them at home is key to never getting behind on having the right foods to eat. With the right food on hand you also need to prepare and cook meals ahead of time for when you know that you won’t have time or have access to the foods you should be eating, say for lunch at work.
Whether you cook extra at dinner the night before or cook a bunch of food a few days ahead of time, say on a Sunday night for the week ahead, having full meals that are transportable and ready to eat quickly will not only save you from having to eat less than ideal foods but will also be nice to your wallet since cooking at home is normally always cheaper than buying out. With all the “real” food you’re buying it can get more expensive than what you were spending previously but savings such as not eating out as much can make up for it.
A cyclist’s diet is more than just a diet of eating this and that. It is a lifestyle that with careful planning and preparation will become an easy habit that will be a part of your everyday life. And just because you have all of this great healthy food doesn’t mean you have to pass up the cookies and pie. Just have it in moderation after you’ve eaten your other amazingly wholesome food. You’ll eat less of it and you won’t feel guilty. You’ve done the work to make great food to enjoy and improve your riding. Eat what you want and enjoy. With a balanced and a thought out approach to food your diet will be precisely what you want it to be.