Two Things a Cyclist Should Include in Their Diet and How to Do It
We all know we need energy, hydration, and proper nutrition, but here are two little things to make sure your body can stay healthy and help you become a strong cyclist.
Omegas (3,6,9) Essential Fatty Acids
Omegas 3, 6, 9 are Essential Fatty acids (EFA), but why are they important? The first thing to understand is that they are different than the fats we burn for fuel. Our bodies cannot produce them [i] and they are needed for major biological processes in our body. In fact, without EFAs we can have all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients we need but our body cannot trigger the process to use them.
EFAs (Omega 3, 6) are broken down into a molecule called eicosanoids [ii], lipoxin, and Endocannabidoid which regulates some of our major body systems including: growth after and during activity, inflammation and immune system responses, and are messengers to the nervous system. It is not thought that these molecules are not stored but produced as needed within the cells. The production of these molecules is triggered by events like toxins, pathogens, or activity.
These EFAs are needed in proper balance within our body to help our manage inflammation [iii], and maintain the proper health of our tissues. Omegas can be found in Flax, Hemp, fish, seeds, nuts, and poultry as well as strawberries, and broccoli.
My Omega choice is Hemp Seed, because it has a nice balance of 3, 6 and 9, it is packed with trace minerals and is a great source of dietary fiber.
Cool fact: The number behind the Omega represents location of the carbon- carbon double bond in the chain.
Lignans are what we call a phytoestrogen, or plant estrogen. These are natural plant chemicals that bind to a
Flax meal, sesame, pumpkin seeds and oats, apricots, and strawberries contain Lignans, with flax seed containing 75 to 800 times more lignans than any other foods [iv]. These Lignans are important to a cyclist because they have antioxidant and anti-inflamitory properties which may be helpful against prostate cancer, breast cancer, and heart disease [v] [vi] [vii]. According to the British Journal of Nutrition, consumption of Lignans by post-menopausal woman has also shown a lower BMI [viii].
Here is a nice little recipe that gives you all of this in one little neat package. Try these nut free energy bars are my healthier alternative to a store bought variety that will be overloaded with chemicals and sugars. By making your own bars; and they are very easy to make; you can control the types of sugar used, how much is used, and choose a healthier fat to hold it together. You can also choose homemade dried fruits or fruit leathers if you’re ambitious. I choose seeds and grains that have highly balanced nutritional levels, but substitute as you like.
Experiment with different combinations of dried fruits, seeds, grains, sweeteners, and a oil/fat to find variations you enjoy.
High Energy Fruit and Seed Bars Recipe
3/4C Cane Sugar
1C Sour Cherries
1C Sesame seeds
1 C Hemp hearts (hulled/shelled)
1C Flax meal
4 C Rolled oats
1C Sunflower Seeds
1C Pumpkin seeds (Shelled)
2C Strawberry Jam
¼ C Honey
250g Cocoanut Butter
4 TBSP Cinnamon
Combine all dry ingredients in the food processor and blend until they are a grain. Don’t overblend, They are nicer with some texture.
In a pan on low heat, melt the cocoanut butter, add jam and cinnamon. Remove from heat. Let the mixture cool before adding the honey so it doesn’t destroy it’s natural properties otherwise you may as well be adding cornsyrup.
In a bowl, add the wet and dry ingredients and mix until well coated.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and press the mixture into the pan. Bake @180 C for about 30 minutes. It should get a bit browned.
Once it’s cooled, cut them lengthwise and crosswise to size and wrap them up.