Loving the BITE: Anti-nausea Food For Athletes
It happens to cyclists, runners, mountain bikers, and climbers alike. Sometimes, while you’re out there, your stomach just isn’t right. You feel nauseous and you’re not sure why. Same pre-training fuel, same during the ride fuel. Maybe it happens every time without fail, or just on long rides, or just in high heat. While it’s best to figure out what the issue is in the first place, sometimes it’s difficult to nail down. Today we’ll discuss a traditional anti-nausea food that works wonderfully as fuel before and while on the bike, and other strategies to make sure you can train well every time, without fear of a sour stomach.
Recipe of the week: Honey Candied Ginger
- 1 pound ginger root
- 1 cup organic honey
- ~1/2 cup Coconut flour or coconut flakes
- Peel ginger. A great tip is to simply use a spoon to peel it. Ginger’s thin skin scrapes away easily with the edge of a spoon.
- Cut ginger into ¼” slices.
- Place 3 cups water in a pot. Add ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 35 minutes or until the ginger is tender.
- Transfer the ginger to a colander to drain.
- Return the ginger to the pot and add the honey. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the honey is slightly darker and thicker, approximately 20 minutes.
- Transfer the ginger immediately to a colander and drain liquid into a bowl (save liquid as a wonderful sweetener for tea, yogurt, etc).
- Add coconut to ginger and shake to coat well. Then, separate and spead individual pieces on oiled or non-stick cookie sheet.
- Once completely cool, store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Candied ginger is simply good. It tastes good, it’s refreshing, not too sweet, a nice treat. Add in its amazing nutrients, and you’ve got a recipe for anti-nausea success. What’s more the honey-carbs in this recipe contribute towards your carbohydrate goals per hour (60+ grams per hour on rides 90 minutes) and the coconut flake coating allows for a typically sticky food to be easy to handle while on the bike. While some of the honey’s enzymes are destroyed with cooking, it’s fructose and glucose remain unharmed and provide relatively long-lasting energy (similar to maltodextrin) that makes for perfect cycling fuel. If you’ve suffered from a sour stomach or nausea, it may really help.
If you’re looking for more options, here are other Anti-Nausea Strategies:
- Dial in your pre-training fuel plan. Generally, a regular meal is fine 3-4 hours out, but it should not be high fat or high fiber. Also, avoid any gas producing foods such as broccoli, beans, etc within 6 hours before a ride.
- A smaller snack is fine 1-2 hours out. A piece of fruit with peanut butter, some nuts and raisins, or a fruit and nut bar. If you’re starting early in the morning and don’t want to wake up 3 hours out (and I don’t blame you), simply use a small snack or a smoothie (liquids digest quicker) 1-2 hours out.
- Make sure your sports drink works well for you. Not every drink is for every cyclist. Some do well with maltodextrin based drinks, others with sucrose or glucose based ones, others only with water or low-carb drinks. If you find that you consistently don’t feel good using a particular drink, try a different one. As long as you’re hitting your goals for fluids, carbs, calories, and lytes per hour from some sort of food and/or fluid, you can drink what you’d like.
- Eat small amounts throughout the ride and DO NOT eat a large meal at once (such as at the half-way point). Not only will this set like a rock in your stomach, it will also leave you with heavy, tired legs as your bloodflow is diverted to your gut and dealing with an overload of food.
- Don’t overdo the sugary foods. Especially on long rides, use real foods at least every 2-3 hours. Try our rice burritos, lemon bars, and sweet potato fries for whole-food options.
- Drink to a schedule to meet your needs. Do not wait for thirst (I know, I know, you’ve heard both pieces of advice). The issue with waiting for thirst is that you’re already behind your hydration needs if you’re thirsty, and it’s very hard to catch up. It’s extremely rare to over-hydrate. It’s extremely common to be dehydrated. What’s this got to do with nausea? Dehydration and low sodium status leads to nausea.
- Try probiotics and/or enzymes immediately before and during a ride. Probiotics are the healthy bacteria found in your intestines that aid digestion of foods, absorptions of nutrients, immune function, and more. Turns out, they can help reduce stomach upset in the short-term as well. Enzymes help break down nutrients….amylase breaks down carbs, protease proteins, and lipase fats. Then, there are even more specific enzymes for specifics types of carbs, proteins and fats (lactase for lactose, for example). If you’re interested, popping a probiotic/enzyme combo pill before and every hour of a ride can help. A yogurt smoothie as a pre-ride fuel provides a whole-food option.
- If acid is the problem, it may simply help to use a antacids before and during a ride.
It seems that runners experience an unsettled stomach due to all the bouncing around, and cyclists due to the constant seated position (proper positioning can also alleviate any acid reflux). Whatever the issue, it’s important to figure out which foods and drinks to avoid and which foods and drinks may help. Candied ginger is certainly a great and delicious option, as long as you can resist it long enough to take it on your ride.
Fuel your Ride. Nourish your Body.