The secret to losing weight and riding better begins with eating the right breakfast. The fact is drilled into the brain of every kid in America, as sure as state capitals and the Pledge of Allegiance: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Simply put, our bodies cannot function without the proper fuel. you're a cyclist, here are a few guidelines to kick-start your day:
What: For endurance rides (three hours or more) of lower intensity, eat a broader spectrum of foods. The meal can include a higher percentage of calories from fat and protein. Eggs, waffles, French toast, pancakes and peanut butter are all good options.
Why: Adding fat and protein will make the meal more filling and provide nutritional balance.
What Else: On long rides, eat and drink on a schedule to ensure you stay fueled and hydrated. For an easy reminder, set a watch alarm to go off every 15 or 20 minutes, then take a sip or nibble. 3 Whole-Wheat Pancakes (4-inch diameter) With 2 tsp. of margarine and 2 tbsp. of maple syrup 1/2 cup of fresh berries 8 oz. 100 percent fruit juice (no added sugar) Coffee or tea, as desired 495 calories; 9g protein; 83g carbohydrate; 15g fat.
What: An easy-to-digest, carb-heavy breakfast with some lean protein for shorter (up to two hours), fast rides.
Why: Liquids such as smoothies are easy to consume first thing in the morning, even for those with sensitive stomachs. This menu is low in fat, which slows digestion, because the goal here is to supply glucose to muscles quickly.
What Else: To speed recovery postride, have a minimeal of 150 to 200 calories that contains carbs and protein, such as a container of yogurt with two tablespoons of granola. Fruit Smoothie In blender, combine 1/2 cup of low-fat plain yogurt, 1/2 cup of orange juice or plain or vanilla soymilk with 1/2 banana and 1/2 cup of strawberries; add ice and honey as desired 1 slice toast with 2 tsp. jam or jelly 8 oz. sports drink, coffee or tea, as desired 425 calories; 10g protein; 92g carbohydrate; 3.5g fat.
What: When you're riding later in the day, you need a breakfast that will go the distance. Eat junk in the morning, and you won't have energy in the afternoon.
Why: Oatmeal is one of the most satisfying foods you can eat. Its long-lasting energy keeps your blood-sugar levels in control until lunchtime.
What Else: If you need a mid-morning snack, eat a piece of fruit, which provides fiber, and carbs for energy. 1 1/2 Cups Oatmeal with 2 tbsp. of raisins, 2 tsp. of brown sugar and 2 tbs. of nonfat plain yogurt or 1/2 cup of skim milk 1 egg, scrambled 1/2 English muffin, toasted Coffee or tea, as desired 440 calories; 22g protein; 70g carbohydrate; 9g fat.
What: This protein-focused meal is ideal for the day after you've completed a race, century or other epic ride.
Why: Protein provides the essential amino acids that are the building blocks of muscle protein, and will help repair the micro-tears in your muscles that occur when you pound the pedals.
What Else: Antioxidants also speed recovery. Some of the best sources: berries, nuts, herbs and spices, coffee, tea and red wine. 3 Scrambled Eggs (one whole egg with two egg whites) 1 English muffin with 2 tsp. of jam or jelly and 2 tsp. of margarine 8 oz. of 100 percent fruit juice (no added sugar) Coffee or tea, as desired 500 calories; 24g protein; 63g carbohydrate; 15g fat.
Nervous Stomach? Some people cannot eat breakfast before a race or big ride, no matter how important they know it is to fuel up. "Try having breakfast right before bedtime, or wake up in the early hours to eat something, then go back to bed," says sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, R.D., author of Cyclist's Food Guide: Fueling for the Distance. "These strategies will help maintain a normal blood-sugar level and allow you to still function reasonably well in the morning."