Spoke Talk: Be prepared and leave no trace
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
I love overhearing conversations on the trail about nutrition. Mainly because I’m a registered dietitian nutritionist who is simply curious about the latest trends and fads that people are following and why. This year, I volunteered as a Routt County Riders Trail Ambassador to not only listen, but help too.
Nutrition is a key component to performance in any sport, especially biking. Whether you are biking for recreation or competitively, putting wheels down on the trail, gravel or road, there are three important steps you can take to make sure you are prepared, and you leave no trace.
First things first, your general diet provides the foundation for any ride you do. Most of us spend more time off the bike than on. If our overall diet during these times is poor, then time spent on the bike isn’t maximized. Keep it simple, focus on eating at least three meals a day with at least three food groups at each meal.
• One-quarter to one-third of your plate should provide a healthy source of carbs for energy. Examples include roasted sweet or white potatoes, whole-grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa, oats, beans/lentils, peas and carrots, and/or fruit.
• One-quarter of your plate should provide a source of lean protein to support your muscles and immune system. Good choices include skinless chicken or turkey breast, fish, lean cuts of beef/pork/lamb, Greek yogurt, tofu/tempeh, and/or eggs. Bonus points for choosing local options.
• The remaining half or so of your plate should include a variety of vegetables and/or fruits to give you a hefty dose of vitamins and minerals. This could be a salad with various toppings, roasted asparagus and tomatoes, sauteed onions and bell peppers, broccoli and cauliflower, and/or your favorite fruit.
• Add snacks with a healthy carb and a protein depending on hunger and riding schedule.
Secondly, just like knowing where you’re going to ride, have a plan for what you’re going to eat and drink on your ride so you can prevent the dreaded “bonk.” Rule of thumb: if you’re riding for more than an hour, you need more than water.
For each hour on the bike, take in 30 to 60 grams of carbs from your preferred sources. Options may include sports drink, gels, chews, bars, and/or real food (PB&J, pretzels, etc.). These carbs are going to provide your body with the energy it needs to continue each pedal stroke. Efforts longer than 2.5 hours may require up to 80 to 90 grams of carbs per hour.
Most importantly, you must not forget to leave no trace. Portable nutrition typically comes in convenient, single-use plastic packaging that is easily dropped and left behind. Prevent this by checking for all packaging before moving on. Put small pieces of packaging, like squeeze gel tops, in a zip-pocket or bag dedicated for trash. This will prevent it from slipping out if you go in to access another item. And do your part by picking up any lost packaging on the trail next time you ride.
Lauren Larson is a registered dietitian nutritionist and trail ambassador with Routt County Riders.
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