What I came to realize is that you cannot improve on anything without at least a little effort on your side. This also applies to your performance in sports which is a result of multiple factors, diet being one of them. You have to make decisions regarding what you eat, how much you eat (I have problems here...), when you eat and, let's not forget, what you drink.
A basic rule in general nutrition is never skip breakfast - thumbs up for this rule! You've heard it many times so there's no need to stress on that but you should know that as an athlete you'd better have cereals in the morning instead of eggs and bacon. Also if you're working on loosing weight, they say (Nestlé says) you're more likely to get slimmer if you eat cereals early in the day than if you skip breakfast altogether.
My recommendation is to consume cereals in the simplest form available - just hard pressed dull flakes, non processed, with no added sugar, no fancy packaging. If all these conditions are met then you can also expect to pay less for those cereals as the cost doesn't include expensive advertising - which does nothing more than interrupting your favorite TV show every 20 minutes...
Oats, wheat, rye, cornflakes mixed with raisins, bananas, kiwi will do just fine for your sporty lifestyle. You can have them with milk, yogurt or tea. I prefer tea as it's lighter and allows me to add lemon and honey to it. The lemon tea brings in a constant supply of vitamin C protecting me from infections - I haven't had a cold or flu in a long time (and I sleep outside in winter tours).
The beauty of eating cereals is that you don't have to cook anything. You don't have to slice, fry, boil, etc. You just take the yogurt out of the fridge, add oats, eat up, grab your bike and go to work. I'm a lazy bastard, that's why this works for me. I don't like to cook and when I do, I do it just to spoil my girlfriend - the Greek salad you see at the beginning of this post fulfilled the purpose.
Drink plenty of liquids. Especially during your training but as well when working or chilling. Being hydrated is as important as breathing when involved in physical activity. A good way of satisfying both thirst and hunger is to include soup or broth in your lunch. Nutrients will be faster absorbed by your body when they are carried by liquid. More than that, you won't put your digestive system to work as hard as when you give it steak (not that I have anything against steak).
Keep your meals small and eat fruits and vegetables between them. Food is fuel but if take in too much food you will wear down your body instead of making it run more efficiently. The smaller the amounts of food the better the assimilation and digestion. Plus you'll get a sensation of lightness and availability of your body to perform.
Eat carbohydrates within an our after ending your physical training. In strenuous sports - like climbing or uphill mountain biking - you are depleting your glycogen reserves, that is the body's carbohydrates resources, stored in muscles and liver. As it may take up to 24 or 48 hours for your system to restore those reserves, you need to refuel as soon as possible after finishing your workout, usually within an hour. This helps you recover faster and gets you back in performance mode sooner.
So let's summarize all the above:
- eat carbohydrates starting with your breakfast - cereals
- drink lots of liquids - water especially
- eat fruits and vegetables - get your fibers, minerals and vitamins
- small meals - light feeling
- eat carbs as soon as you end your training
Eat your porridge and kick ass!
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