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.
Raw Nuts and Seeds
Cyclists aiming to improve endurance for longer races such as a century (100 miles) or an Ironman (a triathlon in which the bike leg is 112 miles) will routinely undergo metabolism training rides. These are extended-period workouts – ones lasting upwards of seven hours – that are done at a low intensity. The idea is that your body learns to effectively burn fat as fuel, slowing the rate at which it turns to precious muscle glycogen. The result is a direct improvement in endurance.
For the body to be more efficient at burning fat as fuel, one's intake of healthy fat needs to be adequate. A healthy and easy way to take in enough is to turn to nuts and seeds; raw hemp, flax, or chia seeds; walnuts or almonds are perfect. Eat a total of four to six tablespoons of them spread throughout the day. Raw almond butter is also a good option.
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