Category Archives: Nutrition & Recipes

You can only train as hard as the fuel you put it in

This week a new session was added to my training plan Mark my coach added a ‘no hanging around’ ride a 3 hour fast ride, his comments said ‘no hanging around ride’ which I found this amusing I wasn’t aware that I did much hanging around on training rides!

Thursday was the day for my ‘no hanging around’ training, it was also the day I decided commuting to work on my bike would be fun!

It was a damp but warm morning as I peddled from my house towards work. I had not fully appreciated the amount of climbing in this 31km ride so trying to take it easy wasn’t always possible, by the time I got to work I was slightly pinker than I would have liked! I felt great for arriving under my own steam.

I ate all the normal things that day and felt fine. At 5:15 I got back on my bike for my ‘no hanging around’ training ride. The first hour I did as instructed I pushed hard letting my body recover on the flat, averaging around 25kph which is good for a mountain bike on the road.

I had a torq energy gel at 45 mins in which gave me a super charge of energy, I felt like someone had added an extra fuel cell to my battery. Sadly this feeling was short lived and by 1 hour 30mins in I had a bout of ‘shaky leg syndrome’ so I stuffed in some salted peanuts for good measure knowing this would be slower to take effect I waited 10 more minutes and had another gel I had another zing of energy (slightly shorter this time) and then another lull by wonder peanuts didn’t seem to be kicking in at all and I was starting to realise it was too little too late.

I finished my training early deciding to listen to my body instead of be frustrated by my lack of pace for the rest of the session. I still managed 60km in 2 hours 37 minutes which is good going and my fastest 60km to date showing that with the correct furling I could achieve more.

The moral to this story is that of you are only as good as the fuel you put in and the timing of that fuel is crucial. You are not eating for ‘now’ but 30 mins later so start eating earlier on to stop getting to the point of no return. Also to look at your daily energy expenditure if you add in a commute or some other activity you need to eat to recover from that and replenish ready for training.

Nutrition seems to be one of my weaknesses so I have taken on a dietician. A girl that I used to work with who comes highly recommended called Rachel Hobbs she is now setting up my diet plan to get me on track for the Trans Alp.

More on my new diet soon!

Thanks for reading x

An adventure to Afan

Last weekend Michelle, and I travelled to Wales for Battle on the Beach, the UK’s only beach race which takes place in Pembrey country park, South Wales.

On our way we stopped at Afan forest to test out our legs on one of their trials. I haven’t been to Afan in ages and this is the first time my new Specialized Era has seen rock!

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We decided on White Levels and started up the climb, it was very rocky with some big step ups in places but the 29er wheels ate up the ground. This is the first time I have been on something technical with this bike and I felt really confident on it with my 700mm handle bar and full suspension. I felt invincible! We soon were descending through the forest on tight singletrack,

It felt like I was flying as my bike made easy work of the rocky and rooty terrain.

One of my favourite sections is a board walk through the trees with some little steps and thinner sections and off camber turns. It’s really good fun and tests your nerve and ability to focus on what’s in front of you and not look down!

The 15km White levels loop is a great red trail with an even amount of ascent and descent. The climbs are technical in places and hard work, but the descents make up for it in excitement. This red trail has something for everyone, whether you like carving through the trees or feeling exposed racing down the mountain side. It packs a lot of features into a 15 km circuit.

It is well worth investigating Afan’s other trails when you are in South Wales.

Here is a short video on the best bits in my opinion!

Apricot & Pistachio Cake

 

Some times a sweet treat is needed! This apricot and pistachio cake is made using semolina which contains selenium in combination with other nutrients, including vitamin E — as an antioxidant. This means that it prevents harmful oxidation of your cell membranes and DNA, which would otherwise contribute to diseases, including heart disease. Getting enough selenium in your diet also strengthens your immune system to prevent infection. Semolina also boosts your intake of several B-complex vitamins, especially folate and thiamin. Collectively, B-complex vitamins support your metabolism and ensure that you can convert food into useable energy.

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 100g apricots
  • 1 large orange
  • 170g butter
  • 170g sugar / Struvia
  • 225g semolina
  • 4 eggs
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 100g pistachios
  • 300g greek yoghurt

    Syrup:

  • 150g honey
  • 2tsp lemon juice
  • 100ml orange juice

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 190°C. Now line a 20cm circle tin

2. Put apricots, squeezed orange and peel into a bowl and soak for 6 / 12 hours. Transfer the apricots and juice to a food processor and blend

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3. Put butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat together. Add egg yolks one by one and fold in

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3. Add the semolina and ground almonds and mix well together, fold in apricot puree

4. Whisk egg whites until stiff, put the mixture in a tin and into the oven for 40/45 minutes

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5. Make the syrup put the honey, orange juice and lemon juice into a saucepan and boil for 2-3 minutes then set aside

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6. Once out and cooled pour the syrup over the top and serve with a dollop of greek yoghurt and a sprinkle of pistachios!

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Let me know what you think 🙂

Greek Yoghurt and Blueberry Muffins

I came across this recipe whilst looking for a healthier blueberry muffin mix. I love blueberry muffins but usually they’re full of sugar and white flour so I wanted to try something a little different. I changed the recipe adding dried apricots instead of 1 cup of brown sugar I used  half and added dried apricots to increase the natural sweetness. I also changed the white flour for brown flour and a cup of oats.

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup of oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup low-fat Greek yoghurt
2 large eggs
1/4 cup of honey
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup of dried apricots

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C
  2. Line a tray with 12 muffin cases
  3. In a large bowl mix your dry ingredients
  4. In another bowl mix your wet ingredientsIMG_2297
  5. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry
  6. Add the blueberriesIMG_2298
  7. Divide the mixture into the casesIMG_2301
  8. Bake for 18 minutes, remove from the oven and check your muffins by putting a knife through the middle if it comes out clean its done

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These muffins are really tasty and will last about three days in a sealed container. As they have yoghurt in them best kept in the fridge. They will freeze too!

 

 

Apricot and Nut bars

Granola bars are full of slow releasing carbs great to keep you going all day. Sometime I find shop bought bars are quite sickly so I am always on the hunt for a new recipe.

Today the weather was not great for cycling, (although I did get a short training session in) but perfect for baking so I re-created this bar recipe I found to see how good they are.

Ingredients

  • 80g butter
  • 80g honey
  • 40g apricot jam
  • 80g dark brown sugar
  • 120g jumbo oats
  • 30g cashews – chopped
  • 30g sultanas
  • 30g dried apricots
  • 40g mixed seedsDry Ingredients

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 190°C. Now line a 20cm square baking tin with greaseproof paper.

2. In a large saucepan melt the butter, honey, jam and sugar together on a medium heat, stirring until dissolved.Wet Ingredients

 

3. Bring to the boil and cook for one/two minutes so that the sugar caramelises, making it a sticky sauce.

Caramalisation

3. Add the dry ingredients and mix before turning out into your tray.

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4. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until set. Once ready just turn it out and leave to cool on a rack, cut into slices while its slight warm.

Tah Dah! Scrummy energy bars fit for long rides, although there is some refined sugar in here a lot of the sugars are natural, coming from fruit so will be released slowly during your training.

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Let me know what you think 🙂

Elite Sport Group – Sports Nutrition

On Wednesday I went to a talk by Dr Rob Child on sport nutrition. It was really interesting and to learn more about how nutrition and training really sit side by side and should been seen as equally as important.

Dr Robert Child is the head of ESG’s nutrition services and is an expert in the safe and legal use of nutrition supplements.  He has been working with top-level athletes for over a decade.

Below are some of the key points from the lecture that I wanted to share.

Fuels for performance and what they do:

  • Fat – lots of fat available to fuel a small engine – slow process to use fat
  • Carbohydrate – smaller reserve but can burn at a faster rate
  • Creatine – tiny engine – fast process to use creatine. Used very quickly but regenerates rapidly too

Good nutrition is about harnessing the beneficial effects of food.

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What is a good training diet?

Fat-

  • Omega 6 – cakes/ ready meals etc Omega 6 has an inflammatory response
  • Omega 9 – olive oil
  • Omega 3 – fish/ Flax seed etc Omega 3 suppresses inflammation – benefits of omega 3 include reduced heart rate, improved mood, and improved ventilation

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Protein-

Vegetable protein

Animal protein (milk, egg, fish, meat) – milk and eggs contain important antioxidant’s; creatine, carnosine and carnitine are found in animal proteins.

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Characteristics of animal proteins –

  • Low GI
  • They make you feel full (20/30g per meal)
  • High vitamin density b vitamins, iron, minerals, zinc, creatine
  • Important for muscle grow, repair, immune system

Carbohydrate

Glycemic index.

The Glycaemic Index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrate-containing foods based on the overall effect on blood glucose levels. Slowly absorbed foods have a low GI rating, while foods that are more quickly absorbed have a higher rating.

glycemic_index

  • White bread 95 digested quickly so big increase in glucose
  • White boiled rice 60-70
  • Spaghetti (Durham wheat) 64
  • Potatoes boiled 85

High GI foods are good recovery foods and help stimulate the release of insulin was which also helps with muscle repair.

Anything with a lot of fibre in it has a low glycemic index, low GI takes longer for your body to break down and release energy making them good pre-race/ long training ride foods.

  • Oats/muesli 42
  • Apple 36
  • Chickpeas 36

Fibrous (unrefined carbs) if it looks like when it was growing its fibrous

  • Fruits
  • Veg
  • These have low GI
  • Don’t elevate insulin levels
  • Make you feel full
  • Nutrient dense

QUESTION: I tend to train early in the morning and if nots an intense session I won’t eat first, I thought this meant I burnt more fat… but turns out I could be burning muscle too!

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Starchy carbs

  • White Rice
  • White Pasta
  • Ice cream
  • High GI
  • Elevate insulin levels
  • Don’t make you feel full
  • Low nutrient density

Type and amount of protein, fibrous carbs, starchy carbs in meals is important

  • Big breakfast high calorie to fuel you throughout the day. Minimum of 10g protein in breakfast
  • Big lunch
  • Small dinner so less to be stored over night as fat

This is obviously very different to the way most of us eat now and is a lifestyle change but potentially a good one! After Christmas I am going to give it a go having a larger breakfast and lunch and a smaller dinner.

I hope you have enjoyed my post, the nest one will be on recovery nutrition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthier Rockie Roads!

Pre race day is a day off rest and the odd spot of baking, but baking often involves high sugar contents and as scrummy as the end product may be nutritionally its not doing me any favours!

So ive gone for a healthier rockie road treat which is indulgent, tasty and slightly more healthier than the normal sugar fuelled version and comes with the added bonus of being ready a lot quicker than anything you have to stick in the oven!

All you will need is:

250g dark chocolate (buy the good stuff 80/90% cocoa it will taste a lot better)
50g flaked almonds
50g dried fruit (I used cranberries, sultanas and raisins)

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Method:

1) Melt the chocolate in a glass dish on the stove
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2) Add your almonds and fruit to a large mixing bowl (you could also add other nuts and chopped apricots)
IMG_04333) Pour the melted chocolate over the nut/berry mix and stir together
IMG_04384) Stir well!
IMG_04395) Now to get a little messy use your clean hands to roll up little balls of mixture and place on a tray/plate. (optional licking of the bowl)
IMG_04406) Stick it in the fridge to cool for at least 2 hours, best kept in the fridge too!

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Enjoy these as a snack after a training ride.

Energy Gels

Cross country mountain biking is fast paced and the ground is often rough with roots, rocks and other obstacles which make opportunities to refuel few and far between.

Races last around 1 hour 30/40 minuets so taking on board fluid and energy is very important for maintaining race pace and also not feeling like death afterwards!

My go to snack for during races is energy gels. They are really handy because you can bite the top off, hold it (usually squirting it all over yourself and your bike) and drink/swallow it when ever possible.

My first ever gel was a sticky sweet mouth drying disaster! It was like trying to swallow superglue, not pleasant and distracting in a race!

Since this first experience I have tried a variety of different makes of gels from Holland & Barrett and other stores with no real luck.

Then I tried the Science in Sport energy gels which have a more jelly like consistency and are not as sweet they contain 22g of carbohydrate and mostly are caffeine free. They are easy to digest and during a race can be swallowed easily. During an average race of 1 hour 30 mins I would eat two or three of these to maintain my energy levels.

Energy Gels

The other gels I have found work really well are High Five these gels have 23g of carbohydrate and are as easy to use as the SIS ones. The big difference is actually something simple and that is the packaging design, I have had a couple of issues trying to rip the tops off and cycle at the same time with the High Five gels. Once the top is off however the High Five gels are brilliant and give a great tasting energy boost. My favourite flavour has to be the Mojito although you really have to drink after taking this as its slightly too sweet.

As with all performance products especially gels I think some of the energy they give you is phycological! However in a race if this works then that is all that matters.

I would recommend trying out a couple of different brands during training and see how they sit with you, this is the best way to pick your race energy products.

Happy Racing!

Protein supplements

Protein supplements Powder and Bars.

Training sometimes feels like the easy part, it’s simple you have a programme you put the effort in, you get the results out (sort of). The difficulty comes in finding good nutritious, quick food to eat around my training.

I have tried many products during training. When I first started I headed off to Holland and Barrett and got a couple of protein bars and energy gels to try whilst I was training to see what brands were good.

I found the protein bars I had brought all had a tough texture a bit like chewing on a cows butt! They left me bloated and not wanting to eat a meal which meant my nutrition was suffering because I couldn’t get enough nutritious calories in.

I tried protein shakes and found these to be a lot easier and used one from Holland and Barrett after my first race as during training it had been fine, however after racing it did not agree with me and left me again with the awful bloated feeling.

The search for good protein!

I did some research online and spoke to friends who recommend Science In Sport REGO I tried it with milk and also with water and found it had a smooth consistency was easy to drink, tasted good and seemed to help with my recovery as I could train each day and felt like I was getting stronger.

SIS Rego

Protein shakes are great for after training and races as long as you can keep the powder and water/milk separate and mix just before you want to drink it. Sometimes this is not easy when it’s hot leaving water or milk in the car is not always a good idea and a warm protein shake is not present! This is where a protein bar comes in handy. My experiments with Holland and Barrett ones where no good and if had given up on the idea of finding a good one until I got a sample from Zip Vit, the chocolate orange protein bar was totally different to anything I had tried before it tasted or chocolate orange and not protein which was a great start and the consistency was less chewy and didn’t leave me feeling bloated.ZipVit bars

Over all I think both bars and shakes have their place in the diet of an athlete. Bars are quick and easy but personally I prefer protein shake and to eat something wholesome too.

Banana and Almond Slice

Healthy Snacks, Banana and Almond Slice.

We all love a little bit of sweetness in our lives. Having a sweet tooth makes it rather tempting to dig into something chocolaty or a slab of cake before going on a training ride, but these sweet treats don’t sustain you for very long, as they are full of sugar which give you a quick boost but leave you wanting more very quickly.
What you really need are foods that have a low Glycemic Index (GI), these are foods which  release carbohydrate more slowly over time in order to sustain the training you are doing for longer. So to combine something sweet with something that will sustain training I’ve started making banana and almond cakes, these are full of slow releasing energy and a sweet treat at the same time. Bonus!
What you will need:
3 large bananas, mashed
Sliced almonds, a hand full
200g (7 oz) plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
150g (5 oz) caster sugar
1 egg
75g (2 1/2 oz) butter, melted
A cap full of vanilla essence

How to make:
Preheat your oven to 180 C / Gas mark 4, then grease a tin, any tin will do as long as its about an inch deep. You could also make this into a muffin mix by using a muffin tray. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a mixing bowl and add in your sliced almonds.
Using a blended mix together the bananas, vanilla essence, sugar, egg and melted butter, once its turned into a yellow goo pour in stirring as you add the dry ingredients once its all mixed together add to your baking tray and cook for 25 to 30 minutes. You will know its cooked when you can lightly tap it and it bounces.

Leave to cool and then cut into slices, grab your bike/trainers and your delicious treat and your good to go.

I hope you enjoy my healthy snack, if you have any alternatives please share.

banana and almond slice