Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Mountain bike exercise and nutrition

Posted by Cathie (aka Lost Lass) | July 16, 2010 | 5 comments so far

I just wanted to post a thread to capture people’s views on exercise and nutrition.

There are quite a few reasons that I am interested in this topic but one at the forefront for me is because I have a gluten intolerance I try and avoid wheat-based foods.

I am on another forum where I log my food intake and my carbs are always far too low, for example looking at todays’ results my carb intake was 18% of my total nutritional intake and should have been 55%. That’s quite a gap and I wonder if it affects my energy levels. My protein and fat levels are only just above what they should be and with foods like avocado and salmon that happens.

I am really interested in people’s views on foods for energy, foods for recovery what you believe in and what you may have found works for you.

Looking forward to an interesting discussion…

Filed under Lifestyle, Mutterings in July 2010

Cathie (aka Lost Lass)

About the author

Cathie was introduced to mountain biking by Dave about 9 years ago but only really been riding regularly since May 2008 when she invested in a new hard tail (a white On-One classic Inbred), a wise investment as a result of being able to trial different bikes at Cycle Works demo day at Holmbury-St-Mary. She also rides a full suspension Giant Cypher which was this year's treat and saw many miles during the summer of 2010.

Cathie has attended skills days with Dirt Divas at Swinley Forest, she would like to improve her skills on bomb holes and her favourite trails are the ride over to Newlands corner loving "Whitedown" and a favourite trail through Denbies.

Cathie loves meeting other female riders of all fitness levels and experience and is hoping for less punctures in 2011 now that both bikes are wearing tubeless tyres!

There are 5 comments on ‘Mountain bike exercise and nutrition’

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  1. paul901 says:

    It’s an interesting subject Cathie and full of conflicting advice out there. No wonder we spend years baffled by supposedly good and bad habits.

    Best advice was from my old martial arts master who said when the body is fit it will look after itself and sure enough when exercise is intensive and we are in our prime it has a habit of doing that. It accepts and rejects various offerings naturally in a healthy way.

    Sadly, this works less as the years roll and periods of inactivity roll by. Currently I am down from 105kg (16 1/2 st) to 98kg (15 1/2 st) and targetting 90kg overall. The riding diet undoubtedly helps and I get in between 8 and 10 hours now (4 Sun, 2 lots of 2 hours mid-week then a Fri night if I am feeling good). 2/3 of those are now off-road.

    However another piece of advice was that 25% of weight management is exercise and 75% is diet. I try and keep this in my mind. I have to step up my eating habits a notch further.

    The third piece of advice came from Paul one Sunday who said don’t eat after 8pm. This alone improved my eating habits because it forced me to think about the evening meal. It cut out snacking and let’s face it who snacks on fruit at that time of night. It meant I had to eat before an evening ride which in turn made me take lunch and breakfast more seriously. What I had not expected was that it would cut the choc or rubbish because given a choice you make sure you have your meal.

    As to the foods you mention, my ex was a coeliac sufferer so if I recall you are okay with rice and you don’t mention dairy? Rachel’s Rice pots at 200kcal each would become my friend (they already are by the way) and others who try them get hooked.

    In fact, I would be inclined to make a home version and maybe substitute honey for the sugar. Bananas are probably the next that springs to mind. I have realised I ned to bring these into my routine in place of the wheat or potatoes and see the effect.

    I will send the chart I keep to Dave’s email as it is an xls spreadsheet. I haven’t got to the stage of breaking down the food by content yet and have been thinking about doing that. It will show you that I still have some bad items in there but much less than I used to.

  2. StevenD says:

    This beer lover does not so much think of nutrition as prefer something other than water to drink on the ride LOL.

    I do not have a nutritional lifestyle, not really my scene so to speak, but mtb has made me change my eating habits.

    I need to eat before a ride, whenever I do not eat things are definitely harder.

    On a morning ride, I start with muesli or porridge, fruit juice and a cup of tea. For an evening ride I prefer some meat, eg a burger or bacon sarny works well (but no chips etc).

    On the ride: I phoned SiS, High5 and Maxim and blagged some free samples and tried them out. I hated the taste of SiS but enjoyed the High5 drinks preferring their 4:1 Super Carb and 2:1 Super Energy drinks. I am currently using a drum of 2:1 and put 2:1 in my backpack and water in a bottle.

    The most important thing I have found is that sipping the energy drink every mile from about mile 3 onwards is very effective.

    Up to 15 miles that is fine but for longer rides I take a banana and/or piece of cake as well (no tea shops in the Chilterns) plus I always have an Elevenses bar (my favourite of the cereal snacks I have tried so far) in my backpack and sometimes wine gums or jelly babies (emergency get me home fix or just because I like them).

    Post ride just depends on how I feel, but of late (and this is fitness kicking in) I have no need or desire to eat after anything up to 15 miles (except beer, it helps living almost next door to a real ale brewery), it is only the longer rides that require recovery food and then I prefer milk.

    What I have not yet worked out is whether improved performance and recovery is down to nutrition or improved fitness, I suspect both.

    But I stress, I am not someone who could have a nutritional lifestyle, but I do plan my intake before, during and after each ride. It definitely effects my capability and more importantly my enjoyment of every ride.

  3. Matt says:

    Having suffered over the years with getting food intake wrong (regular colds after two or three weeks of hard riding, and startling sugar ‘bonks’) I think I’m finally on the right track.

    Lifestyle-wise, me and Helen live on pasta, which is obviously out for you but works very well for me. I have as big a breakfast as I can manage, home-made sandwich at lunchtime and then a big bowl of pasta in the evening. If anything I’m probably lacking protein.

    I guess in your case, potato and rice-based meals should provide your staple carb or you will run the risk of using sugar-laden foods as a substitute. Not good as people’s bodies generally can’t cope with sugar-rushes and promptly do their best to turn the excess energy in sugar at any one time into fat to store it for a rainy day.

    Don’t forget there’s carbs in wine!!

    Salmon is great for a low fat protein, as is chicken of course. In fact, I think in moderation most meats are OK but generally people’s portion control is poor when it comes to meat – you need a lot less than you’d think.

    My mantra is ‘a little bit of everything’ and I don’t think you’ll go far wrong with that!

    As for exercise and nutrition, I have found that actually increasing my calorie intake has warded off most colds (riding an extra day a week burns 2000 calories for me – after two or three weeks of that and no food increase I was running a 6000 calories deficit or the equivalent of 2-3 days of food – no wonder I was getting colds!).

    I also can’t praise the energy bar/gel/powder/whatever route when exercising itself as a way of avoiding sugar crashes.

    Post ride I don’t bother with these recovery drinks, I just get a decent meal in me as soon as possible!

    All my own opinion of course, I’m not a doctor!

  4. DaveW says:

    I’m not sure what you can and cannot eat – is it just no wheat based foods? Or are there other restrictions?

    For most of my life I ate mostly carbs – I love pasta and rice! I have drifted in and out of a vegetarian diet and as a veggie it is hard to avoid carbs, as they are often a key protein source too. However, over the last dozen years or so, I have found it very hard to keep the weight off, whether I exercise a lot or not (Paul901s comment on diet being more important than exercise rings true).

    Okay, at extremes, when I was doing triathlons and adventure racing and training 6 days a week (and by then I was already having a no carb dinner – e.g. fish and salad), my weight came down and I had to make sure I was eating enough carbs at breakfast and lunchtime or my body would tell me about it.

    So more recently, on looking at diet I started counting calories and found that I can get by quite well on about 1500kcal a day, somewhat less than the recommended 2500 for a bloke. I’ve achieved this by cutting out any significant amount of carbohydrate, except for at breakfast time, 2 slices of toast before a night ride (and a mid ride cake stop on Sunday of course!) and avoiding the biscuits and cakes that are often on the side at work (this is the most difficult bit for me).

    Sticking to this for a while has resulted in a nearly 2 stone weight reduction.

    I know your question wasn’t about weight, but my point is that I personally don’t need very many calories or carbs to do 4-6 hours mountain biking on a Sunday morning, plus 2.5 hours on a Wednesday evening and a weekly 36 mile round trip road bike commute.

    I think diet is harder to moderate when you do lots of exercise, because you feel hungry afterwards – and kind of feel justified in eating after doing some exercise. I know some people who look at the calories they have burned in the morning and plan an afternoon of glutony to take them back on board (mentioning no names, but someone you know ;o)

    I’m slipping back now, not watching my diet so carefully and having more snacks and booze and as a result have put on 5lbs again, so I think I’m going to have to be more disciplined ongoing.

    A bit of a tangent here, but still diet related – something I learnt when I was doing a lot of triathlons and adventure racing was that a vegetarian diet versus a meaty diet seems to make no difference in terms of performance or recovery.

    However, taking a good quality whey protein drink after a major workout or race really helps with recovery.

    One more point – I generally try and avoid energy gels and sports bars. I found that using these during an endurance race results in peaks and troughs of energy and therefore has a negative effect psychologically. They are okay for getting you around that last half a lap, or when to get you home after an exhaustion ‘bonk’ on a long ride, but best avoided otherwise.

    Also, they tend to taste awful and seem really processed and chemically – I prefer to eat natural foods where possible.

    Energy drinks are better than gels and bars, as you take on the calories more consistently, but of course if you run out of drink you will suffer not just dehydration, but an energy dip too.

    So I now prefer to load up on carbs a day or two before an endurance race, but just eat normally before a normal ride and have (preferably low sugar, oat based) cerial bars if needed during a ride (or race). Carman bars from Sainsburys are really good, (but I don’t know about the gluton content of these).

    During a normal 4 hour + ride, I usually enjoy a nice slice of cake and a cup of tea (and just live with the subsequent energy dip, once the sugar has been burnt off, having a cerial bar if needed later on, to get me home).

    Not very scientific, but it works for me!

  5. Roadie Toby says:

    Carbs are my favourite food. I’m doing 250 road miles a week over 4 rides. I eat a large bowl of a sensible cereal, eg muesli, before the ride and 4 cereal bars 1/2 way around. Once back home I drink a pint of milk with chocolate powder. The rest of the time low fat meals are the norm for me.

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