Spoke Talk: Fuel Framework | SteamboatToday.com
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Spoke Talk: Fuel Framework

Kat Ciamaichelo
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

These days, talking about what you ate at your last meal is almost as common as talking about what bike setup you’ve got. Everybody’s talking about it. People mention their smoothie ingredients as casually as their bike components; the ingredients that make them run.

The thing is, eating to fuel you and your bike up the mountain doesn’t have to be so complex, so niche. The foundations of a powerful plate are simple, just like riding a bike. 

Let’s go back to the basics: Build your meals with lean proteins, pair them with plants, bulk it up with fiber.



Protein is most well known for maintaining and building lean body mass, or muscle. Protein also provides essential nutrients critical for optimal brain and immune system function such as zinc, B vitamins, iron and selenium. Protein has also been shown to aid in the control of cardiovascular diseases, and support a healthy weight. Some healthy choices might include lean meats, fish, tofu, eggs, cottage cheese and yogurt. 

All adults, especially athletes, should aim to have balanced meals that have a similar amount of protein at each meal. This will support the most optimal absorption and utilization of the protein and nutrients provided. A good way to achieve this goal is to “stack your proteins” by adding multiple protein sources at each meal to reach your desired intake and ensure a good mix of beneficial nutrients. Think oatmeal, made with your choice of milk, a collagen protein powder, walnuts on top and a side of yogurt or cottage cheese. 



Now that you’ve primed your plate with protein, load it up with plants. These are the powerhouse of the plate; the crank arm, if you will. They provide vital nutrients that unlock various processes in the body, and antioxidants that protect against daily stresses, including the stresses of athletic pursuits. Fruits and vegetables also provide us with fiber. Aim for a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables with each meal. 

Finally, “gas up” with carbohydrate sources. Instead of focusing on “good” or “bad” carbohydrates, focus on fiber rich grains, vegetables and legumes. Some good examples include oats, brown rice, quinoa, whole grain bread, lentils, beans, and starchy fruits & vegetables such as sweet potatoes, corn and bananas. These are what will provide the energy required to push through the pedal stroke, balance on the technical rocky section, and go the distance. 

Try this spinach salad with blueberries, avocado, garbanzo beans, pepita & sunflower seeds, spring peas and cooked quinoa for a protein-packed pre- or post-ride meal.
Kat Ciamaichelo/Routt County Riders

These guidelines are recommended for pre- and post-activity plate building. During activity, our energy, protein, and fiber needs change. The body will largely rely on carbohydrates for moderate to high intensity activities, such as mountain biking & cycling, that last longer than 45 minutes. For this, consider a low fiber carbohydrate choice, such as honey, energy chews, or sports drink to provide quick energy without any belly distress.

Think of these pillars of a healthy plate as the different components on your bike. They all work together to optimize your performance. Sure, we can add fancy ingredients and supplements, just like shaving grams or speedy shifting, but the framework is simple and will keep us rolling. 

Kat is a registered dietitian of 10 years and has helped athletes of all ages achieve their performance goals, and also serves as Routt County Riders’ Program and Events Coordinator.


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