Snacking is an everyday part of our lives, but how we snack and the way we snack can be very beneficial for the performance of our exercise. Snacking the right foods can help with stamina, workout intensity and our mental state, all of which are a vital part of our commitment to exercising and the enjoyment we find when doing so. With cycling being one of the best forms of exercise for weight loss, cardiovascular fitness and muscle strengthening, it is imperative you know what to snack and why to snack.
Lets start with the obvious - all fruit is healthy. However, the most effective form of fruit for cycling is undoubtedly dried fruits, which are packed full of nutrition in a typically small and bitesize portion. Dried fruit is low in fats and artificial sugars, and also contain carbohydrates, fibre and other useful properties that will help with your cycling performance.
Dried fruits such as berries or apricots are an excellent snack for all types of workout, but for cycling especially due to its high carbohydrate, natural sugars and a wealthy fibre content. With it being a great source of fibre, it allows for a quick and effective digestion – perfect for snacking on the go and allowing the natural sugars to provide you with a quick and lasting boost of energy.
Dried apricots: 192 calories per 80g
Nuts may be a tasty snacking choice whilst in front of the TV, but they also feature a healthy amount of fatty acids (among other things) that help with cardiovascular movement and the way we breathe during a cycling session. A frequent nut intake of 1.6g a day for men and 1.1g for women could also help with the prevention of coronary heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol, making them a great food for snacking regardless of activity!
Nutritional experts point out that not only do nuts include beneficial fatty acids, they also contain calcium, iron and magnesium which can all be provided through the likes of almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts. Walnuts especially are excellent for aerobic exercise due to their rich protein and omega-3 content, both of which help with efficient blood flow and steady heart rate.
Walnuts: 523 calories per 80g
They're in the name – energy bars. Sounds obvious, but it's important to know just what energy bars do to the body that make them so great for cycling and other exercises. Firstly, and most beneficially, they're packed with energy in the form of slow releasing carbohydrates that ensure your body has the nutritious properties needed to keep pedalling on long journey's.
Secondly, they come in a wide variety of flavours! Finding a flavoursome energy bar isn't difficult, which makes it a perfect substitute for sugary and unhealthy snacks. Bars with chocolate, fruit or oat flavours not only taste great, but still contain all the carbohydrates and can even be used as a substitute for breakfast if you're in a rush due to their great fibre content - although a more substantial meal is certainly advised!
Look out for energy bars with excessive sugar though, as sugary snacks can cause energy burnout and leave you feeling tired later on in your journey. You could even make your own energy bars out of oats, fruits or nuts to ensure you get a purely natural source of energy!
Energy bar (USDA): 140 calories per 1 40g bar
This option isn't exactly portable-friendly like energy bars or nuts, but if you're planning on cycling for a long distance then be ready with healthy home-prepared snacks too. A handful of grain crackers, a spreading of protein-packed peanut butter and topped with a slice of banana makes for a tasty and varied treat that's packed with Vitamin B, allowing for more effective protein and fat absorption to help your body with gradual releases of energy throughout your workout.
It's not just peanut butter and banana that will give you a boost, you can substitute the carbohydrates for a protein based salmon and cream cheese option that will help with muscle soreness and recovery for those high intensity workouts too.
As we can see, there are plenty of tasty and healthy snacks that you can use to recharge, refuel and extend your cycling workouts. Knowing what snacks to take on your journeys and what they do to your body can help you prepare and ensure you are getting the most out of your workouts.