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Simple & reliable nutritional advice

Simple & reliable nutritional advice

While I am not a nutritionist, I have combed through the scientific literature and integrated that with years of personal experience with myself and my athletes. Here’s some basic nutrition advice for you to incorporate into your routine. These are pretty tried-and-true nutritional guidelines. There is nothing controversial or experimental here. Endurance activity places many demands on your body and good nutrition is important for repair and energy. If you fail to properly fuel your body, it will break down on you sooner or later.

1. First Concern: Protein Requirements

This one can be more challenging than you think, especially if you are vegetarian or vegan. You must also make sure you are getting good quality of protein with all the essential amino acids.

You should be getting a MINIMUM of .8 grams/kg body weight. The standard recommendation for endurance athletes is 1.2-1.4 grams/kg body weight.

120lbs = 44 grams minimum, 65 – 76 grams

Protein-Rich Foods and Supplements
Beef tenderloin steak, lean only (3.5 oz): 29 g
Salmon (4 oz): 29 g
NOW Pea Protein Powder (33-g scoop): 24 g
Swanson Whey Protein Powder (23-g scoop): 20 g
Solgar Whey to Go Powder (25-g scoop): 20 g
Lentils (1 cup): 18 g
BOOST High Protein Drink (8 oz): 15 g
Greek yogurt (5 oz): 14 g
Kashi GOLEAN cereal (1 cup): 13 g
Skim milk (8 oz): 8 g
Tofu, firm (3.5 oz): 7 g
Egg, large (1 large): 6 g
Beneprotein Instant Protein Powder (7 g scoop): 6 g

2. Second Concern: Fat

This one is not too complicated. Keep the proportion of calories from fat at a modest to low level. Your protein selections will contribute (dairy, some meat, nuts, etc. all have fat). You don’t need to be super strict, but try to keep the calories from fat to 15-20% of your overall daily calorie intake.

The high fat diets are a huge fad now, but the evidence against them is mounting.

3. Third Concern: Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the critical fuel as an endurance athlete. Even strength athletes have had significant improvements when they ditched super-low carb diets. Carbohydrates are also the source of energy for your brain, mental function can be diminished on low carbohydrate diets. Without sufficient carbohydrates your riding performance will suffer.

While carbohydrates should make up 60+% of your calorie intake, not all carbohydrates are equal. Grains are the obvious choice and should be part of your diet. However, you should make sure you are getting a substantial percentage of carb calories from vegetables and fruit. This will help keep your micro-nutrient intake where it needs to be. Focus on nutrient-dense vegetables: kale, spinach, broccoli, etc. Variety is important too, don’t always eat the same thing.

Processed foods are generally bad choices for carbs as they are often not as nutrient rich and they often have hidden fat.

“Sports food” is not a great choice either. This is a good option on the bike because it is portable and easy to eat, but don’t substitute bars for “whole food” options off the bike.

4. Supplements

While supplements shouldn’t be necessary, it may be a good backup to take a multivitamin just to fill any gaps. Depending on your diet, iron and a B-vitamin complex supplements might be a good idea.

Want even more info? Visit the American College of Sports Medicine’s Joint Position Statement on Nutrition and Athletic Performance