If you’re heading out for an early ride it’s important you are sufficiently fuelled. But nailing your morning nutrition can be tricky.
For a lot of cyclists, eating such a large amount of food in the morning can be difficult. Not to mention that there are a wide variety of foods to choose from, all of which can a have a number of positive and negative effects on the body.
Get your breakfast right, and you could fly on the bike. Get it wrong, and you could come to a sudden halt, almost instantly.
Low GI is good
When cycling, we need a base layer of energy (fuel). The Glycemix Index is a table that records the rate at which blood glucose levels rise due to certain foods
Low GI foods are digested very slowly and can remain in the small intestine for hours after consumption resulting in a slow sustainable release of glucose.
High GI foods on the other hand releases glucose very quickly and produce sudden changes in blood sugar. High GI foods are suitable when we start to feel sluggish when cycling, or immediately after our ride to help replenish energy stores.
But for breakfast, low GI is the way to go.
So let’s go through five of the best breakfasts for cyclists.
Porridge is the hallmark of any great cycling breakfast. It sits low on the Glycemic Index (GI), providing a slow source of energy over a period of time, perfect for long hours spent in the saddle. If you add in milk, you will get a significant amount of protein into your system too. What’s great about porridge is that you can throw whatever you want into the mix. For example, a few slices of banana and a handful of blueberries contain added minerals, nutrients and antioxidants as well as carbohydrates.
Toast with jam
Another great breakfast for cyclists, which won’t put too much strain on your stomach. Toast sits fairly low on the GI Index, which will help sustain energy levels. The jam however, will provide a sudden boost of energy to help wake you from your slumber.
Not the most exciting food on the planet, but for cyclists, it’s great to have first thing. Good quality muesli contains sugars from dried fruit rather than added, and good fats in the form of nuts. Milk will boost the protein content too. Muesli sits in the middle of the GI Table, but its high fibre content and whole grains plus the omega 3 fatty acids that derive from the walnuts make it a brilliant breakfast cereal for cyclists.
Yoghurt and granola
This is a popular choice among cyclists and it’s easy to see why. It’s packed full of carbohydrates - both fast and slow realising - protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. It also contains sodium that will help combat dehydration when salts are lost as well as calcium. If you struggle to get food down you in the morning, then try this, as it’s easy to eat, digest and puts very little strain on the stomach.
If you really can’t eat so early in the morning, then perhaps the smoothie is the best option for you. For example, a simple mango and banana smoothie contains virtually no fat, a shed load of carbohydrates and protein. The majority of fruits sit fairly low on the GI Index, so feel free to experiment with whatever takes your fancy.
To boost your smoothie even more, you could add some low fat yoghurt, increasing its carbohydrates and proteins content. You can even throw in some granola to give it a bit of a crunch. But what’s great about smoothies is that even if you don’t finish it at your breakfast table, you can take it with you and drink it on the way to your sportive or race.