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A lot of people/athletes know what to eat and how to make it but a lot don’t as well. So I’ll be trying something new to show how to make really good food and that eating Paleo or Gluten-Free doesn’t have to be tasteless or difficult and that you don’t need to be gluten intolerant or on a caveman diet to eat like it. All it takes is a little bit of know how and the knowledge of the benefits to what you’re eating.
Paleo/Gluten-Free Organic Grass-Fed Ground Beef Burger on a Sweet Potato Bun with a Side Salad
This meal is good in that it provides a good, well-rounded, meal that gives you a good ratio of carbs, to fat, to protein. It is protein heavy with the grass-fed beef as well as has a bit of fat but is balanced with a bit of carbohydrates with the majority of which are from the sweet potatoes. This is a good meal for after a long hard ride where you are trying to recover and build muscle but don’t need as many carbohydrates as the intensity is not as high this time of the year (depending on your situation). Add a side of sweet potato fries to get more carbs if that’s what you’re looking for. Feel free to comment with questions or ideas on what else you would like to see made. I’ll see where this goes…
Anytime there’s a big race coming up, most riders up their training, clean up their diet, and focus more on recovery. That is the same for me but to a higher degree as each level of racing you move up the, rest must follow the same trajectory. For me that next level is the Tour of Alberta which is not a World Tour event but will have six or so World Tour teams, a bunch of Pro Conti squads, and then a number of very good Continental Teams, by far the highest level of racing I’ll have done.
To get to this higher degree I first came down to the Alleghany Mountains in Western Pennsylvania where the riding is some of the best I’ve done. There are endless back roads, lots of dirt, but more importantly, incredible and never ending climbing. The roads are either up or down for the most part and the climbs from just a few minutes to 20+ minutes all out. The biggest issue is getting lost, well not lost per say but figuring out how to get to where you want to go. The mountains are crisscrossed with roads and none of them are ever straight. Alberta has a lot of flat, due to the mountain stage/s being taken out due to flooding and roads washing away, but doing climbing like this simply makes you strong, and doing 6 hours of it day after day… well hopefully makes you really strong.
A lot of people think that when you’re training a lot and riding 6 hours a day, you can eat whatever you want. I suppose, yes you can eat whatever you want, but getting the most out of your body requires a diet where everything that you put in has a positive impact. Sorry ice cream and doughnuts, you just don’t do anything good for me, except maybe in the head. More about this in the next post or two, but I have recently gone gluten-free in order to try and get the most out of what I eat. I think taking gluten out of your diet does help in inflammation, recovery, and in other areas but I think the biggest benefit it has brought me is that I just simply eat healthier, more nutritious foods and not things like bread and pastries.
When riding 6 hours a day, day after day, it starts to take its toll on your body. Recovering day to day is the only way you can get up the next day and crush another 6 hour ride. To do this, basically doing anything else is out the window. You get up, have breakfast, relax, whatever, then go ride, come back, eat, shower, make dinner, relax doing whatever, and go to bed for the next ten hours. It may sound boring doing the same thing day in, day out, but I love it. You’re riding around, checking out new roads all day, and don’t have anything else to worry about other than riding your bike. I guess that’s the life of a pro. I put in my time balancing training and racing with school but I’m glad that’s over with.
And another thing that’s awesome when doing big rides every day is getting to that recovery/coffee ride day where two hours feels like you just went down the driveway and back. That’s what I’m headed out for now, ahhh, coffee!!
Training hard requires copious amounts of very hard recovery of which I am quite good at. Being a lazy bum is hard to do when you have a lot of energy and always want to go do different things but when you train all day, every day, you’re tired a lot so lying on the couch always sounds pretty enticing. The trick though is to not take too much of a nap during the day so you can still sleep a solid 9 to 10 hours at night. Netflix is good for this as well as learning a language. (Side note; if you’re trying to learn a bit of a language try duolingo.com. It’s free and a very good language tool. You’ll learn a lot quick!)
Recovery though is not just about getting adequate rest but also good active recovery which for me is typically a 1.5-2 hour light spin, but most importantly almost always includes a stop at a good coffee shop/café, best enjoyed in good company. I love pastries and baked goods so the hardest part is not eating too many! You always have to have a good comfort food.
With training seemingly endless hours per day and week, one builds up quite an appetite and even without riding, I already eat a lot. A good thing for me is that I love to cook so every day would be something different from the day before but I do tend to get into a rut of cooking the same things, just makes it easy I guess. A few of the best dishes I eat for dinner are as follows:
Homemade Pizza (perhaps my favorite) made with a little bit of rice and oatmeal in the crust for added carbohydrates with plenty of vegies on top with diced chicken or steak. Perhaps a bit different, I don’t put cheese on my pizza as I don’t eat much dairy, but it is still pretty awesome.
Chicken or Steak Rice Stir Fry is probably what I tend to eat most as it’s pretty easy and hits all the nutritional requirements pretty well. I make mine by first grilling the steak or chicken in a frying pan and then sautéing the vegies in the same pan to get the meat flavor further into the dish. I then add rice and the cut up meat back into the pan with a scrambled egg or two as well as a handful of different spices depending on my taste for the evening.
Chicken or Steak Burritos are another one of my favorites. In Tucson, tortillas are wicked cheap as well as salsa and avocados so you can make a ton of burritos for pretty cheap. I’m good at overfilling the tortilla though and often end up with a big plate of burrito stuffing’s.
Pancakes are great for breakfast as well as for ride food. I’ll make mine generally with oats, perhaps some rice, eggs, cut up bananas and apples, and topped with peanut butter and jelly when I’m not at home with pure homemade maple syrup.
Hardy Vegetables are a good source of carbs, not from grains, and a good source of nutrients. One of my favorites is sweet potatoes made any which way including: hash brown style for b-fast, roasted sweet potatoe fries (best on the grill), mashed sweet potatoes with sautéed vegies and ham (pictured below), and baked in the microwave is good for on the go with some maple syrup or brown sugar.
Salads are also a big part of my diet especially in the pre-season as slimming down a few pounds always helps that power-to-weight ratio. Lots of good toppings is key along with a good salad dressing. If your salad is bland, you’re not going to want to eat it every day. Also, spinach is favored over lettuce as it’s more nutrient dense.