Just how hungry can a cyclist get?

By November 26, 2015Cycling

Last night Louise ate a lot. Not just a lot for a small person, I mean several big portions of dinner, which I found quite impressive really. I of course took part in the competition and had to eat more than her because we men burn more calories (I won’t be talking anymore about that because it’s actually a disadvantage for men against women). Are you getting really hungry lately too as your training picks up after the break? I for one wanted to try to work out if it is the extra miles, the colder weather, or just that winter time means we can pig out more. Apparently there are some proven ways to make sure we don’t get these random hunger attacks.

The right proportions

I have heard so many people say that diets don’t work. One problem with them is short termism; “just drink these shakes and eat nothing to get into shape for your summer holiday”. The next problem is that they tend to be all or nothing; “only eat meat and veg, no carbohydrates”. Both issues lead to general unhappiness not sustaining the behaviour.  We have even tried a few diets ourselves (hell I even went vegetarian) and what we have found works is sticking to a simple rule of thumb: one-third energy foods (slow release carbohydrates like brown rice or sweet potato), one third health foods (vegetables, salad or fruit)  and one third function foods (proteins like meat, eggs and fish). The reason this works is because you can eat pretty much anything, just in these rough proportions. As an example, rather than cooking up a complete pack of white pasta for your spaghetti bolognese, try having half wholegrain pasta and half spinach. For a better protein hit try meat fillet rather than mince. Simples!

Eat before training

For the racers out there you know that eating a meal any closer to 3 hours before a race results in considerable discomfort! Training is no different. If it has been longer than 3 hours you should refuel no more than an hour before with carbs, like a banana, energy bar or some cereal with milk. If it is going to be a tough session I will always have a banana before I start.

Eat during training

Especially on long rides we need to put in some carbs, around 60g every hour. This will help recovery and limit hunger attacks after training.

Straight after training

The research says that if you eat directly after training you will not need to eat as much later on. You don’t need to go crazy, just a tuna wrap, egg on toast or something smallish to tide you over while you shower, stretch and finally tuck into dinner.

In summary

Louise and I do most of these things and we still get really hungry some days. The best thing we have found if we are hungry, is to listen to our bodies and eat. As long we are eating good food (sticking to the 1/3 rule) we eat as much as we need to be happy and complete our planned training.

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