From a fitness pro's perspective, cycling is particularly interesting because it's the rare sport that can offer an intense, sustained workout of the largest muscle groups – glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calfs – at the same time as a robust cardio workout. (No wonder bikers tend to develop a great balance of strength and endurance.) Physiologists who study cycling have found that pedaling at about 90 rotations per minute is the ideal workout pace, because it evenly distributes the burden of work between cardiovascular and musculature systems.
So when looking for the best foods to fuel a biking workout, one needs to take both systems into account. There's also the matter of intensity to consider. The harder you push, the more your body burns glycogen (the stored carbohydrate in the muscles), while lower-intensity workouts use fat as the prime fuel source. The ideal is to fuel the body with the right amount of easily burned glucose (not too much) as well as fats so that your engine runs smoothly, powerfully, and efficiently. Here are a few simple and healthy natural foods that are easy to introduce into a regular diet.
Endurance athletes often have to snack in the midst of a workout to provide their body with enough fuel to perform at optimum levels (and to prevent their body from eating into muscle stores). But the lower the volume of food taken in during an intense workout, the better so that less energy needs to be diverted to digestion.
Dates are almost completely made of glucose, a simple carbohydrate that is easily burned by the muscles as fuel. In fact, dates have the highest glucose-to-volume ratio of any fruit, and so they make the perfect base for a snack that can be eaten before and during an intense cycling workout. In fact, the base of many natural energy bars includes dates for this reason.
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