Loving the BITE: Dr. Lim’s Rice Cakes

22
Mar
2012

I was recently asked to give my thoughts on Dr. Lim’s Rice Cakes.  Have you heard of them?  Dr. Allen Lim is the world-class physiologist who’s worked with many professional cycling teams, the US Cycling Team, and who has recently co-written a cookbook entitled The Feed Zone Cookbook.  During his career, he has created many whole-food, homemade “savory” fuel options for his athletes to balance some of the sweet-carbohydrate, processed fuels often used.  I’ll admit, I haven’t tried this recipe yet myself, but I didn’t want to hold out on this post going into the cycling season.  Until I do, I’ll let you be the judge and taste-testers.

Recipe of the Week: Dr. Allen Lim’s Rice Cakes

(from http://lavamagazine.com/training/recipe-allen-lims-rice-cakes/)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups uncooked calrose or other medium-grain “sticky” rice
  • 1½ cups water
  • 8 ounces bacon
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons liquid amino acids or low-sodium soy sauce
  • brown sugar
  • salt and grated parmesan (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Combine rice and water in a rice cooker.
  2. While rice is cooking, chop up bacon before frying, then fry in a medium sauté pan. When crispy, drain off fat and soak up excess fat with paper towels.
  3. Beat the eggs in a small bowl and then scramble on high heat in the sauté pan. Don’t worry about overcooking the eggs as they’ll break up easily when mixed with the rice.
  4. In a large bowl or in the rice cooker bowl, combine the cooked rice, bacon, and scrambled eggs. Add liquid amino acids or soy sauce and sugar to taste. After mixing, press into an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan to about 1½-inch thickness. Top with more brown sugar, salt to taste, and grated parmesan, if desired.Cut and wrap individual cakes.

Makes about 10 rice cakes.

Nutritional Information Per Serving (1 cake): 225 cal, 8g fat, 321 mg sodium, 30g carbs, 1g fiber, 9 g protein

Comments:

Most Loving the Bike readers know I’m all for whole foods.  Especially in Daily Nutrition.  When it can be used effectively in Training Nutrition and promote optimal results, I’m all for it there, too.   This certainly may be a good, whole-food, homemade option for many cyclists on long rides.  To maintain the most nutritious and highest quality ingredients, I would simply remind users to choose cage-free organic eggs, organic bacon without nitrites , and consider organic honey in place of brown sugar since it’s a whole-food that promotes health, contains antioxidants, and has been shown in studies to provide a good source of training energy.  As far as nutrient breakdown, the rice cakes look great for on-the-bike fueling.

I also see the high value in a savory food source, as opposed to a sweet one, on long rides.  You just get sick of all the sweet-tasting carbs.  But, since carbs are a very important source of fuel, you need them and I recommend them.   Rice mixed with salty ingredients may be a good answer for the carbohydrate needs of many athletes.  And, from what I’ve read, the cyclists he’s worked with love them.

On the flip side, anytime you mix intense cycling with foods, whether they are solid, gel, or liquid, there are always some concerns and issues of which to be aware.

From reading several interviews, I understand that Dr. Lim created this recipe in part to reduce the amount of “gut rot,” or gastrointestinal problems, of cyclists with whom he works.  It seems that he believes that one of the biggest contributors to gut rot is the practice of drinking your fuel (carb-containing drinks and gels).  This has simply not been my experience as an endurance athlete or as a professional with my own clients.  In fact, as long as the drink is being sipped throughout the ride and not chugged all at once, I often find the opposite to be true.  From my experience, most clients experience nausea, heartburn, flatulence, and generally GI upset from 1) becoming dehydrated, 2) eating a high fat or high fiber meal before riding, 3) eating too large a meal all at once on-the-bike instead of small amounts throughout the ride (waiting until the half-way point and then sucking down a big lunch), 4) riding at a much higher level than what they’ve trained (such as in an epic ride or race), and 5) individual digestion quirks.

For almost every cyclist out there, there is a different preference on fueling.  I have clients that swear by Hammer products, and others that can’t stand the texture or taste.  One that even vomits every time she drinks anything from them.  I’ve seen athletes eat “whole-foods” throughout long competitions with no problems, and ultra-endurance compete and win with nothing but liquid nutrition. Possibly the most important aspect of on-the-bike nutrition is individual preference and individual digestion.  If you don’t like the sound of it, the taste of it, or how it “settles” with you, you won’t do well with it.  This only leads to dehydration and bonking no matter how much your partner loves it.  Dr. Lim seems to also advise finding the foods and drinks that work well for you individually.

In terms of digestion, cyclists who have sensitive stomachs may experience some problems with solids foods while riding.  Solids simply take longer to leave the stomach than liquids and semi-liquids.  This can work for you in terms of long-lasting energy.  This can work against you in terms of having something churning in your stomach.  What’s more, solids require more gastric acid to break down.  For those who experience heartburn on the bike, this can be an issue.  On the flip side, a cyclist who’s been chugging down liquids (water or sports drink) dilutes the acid, and may further delay the breakdown of the food.  Along with the physical “settling” of the food is the cost of it in terms of energy expenditure and blood flow.  Digestive tract blood flow is significantly reduced when training at a high level.  If it has to be increased to breakdown a high-fat food, it’s usually inefficient and at a cost to another part of your body.  I for one have definitely experienced a noticeable decline in leg power after a solid whole-food meal.

Next, for all of those of us who don’t have support handing these out, there’s the issue of carrying them.  In your jersey?  In your pack?  Not sure.  The thought of cooked eggs in my sweaty pack on a hot day is not particularly refreshing to me.  Then again, the thought of a salty food almost always sounds good after 3 hours of riding.

Another issue is food safety…technically, cooked protein foods like eggs shouldn’t set out for more than a couple of hours to avoid high levels of bacteria that may not have been destroyed during cooking or that may have contaminated the eggs after cooking.  We all know people who eat raw eggs, kept at room temperature, without ever getting sick from them. And, I’ve certainly hiked for hours with hard-boiled eggs in a pack.  To minimize the risk, make sure to use high-quality eggs that are from cage-free hens.  Again, individual preferences, logistics, and risk-analysis…

Lastly, if you like the convenience of commercial sports foods, there are certainly good ones on the shelves.  Sure, there are those with junk ingredients including colorings, potentially harmful chemicals, and unnecessary additives, but there are plenty of companies trying to give us good foods that will work well on a bike.  Clif bar, Lara bar, and Ignite Naturals are just a few.

With my clients, I typically recommend a “treat” food every 3 hours or so when riding longer than 5 hours (this is in addition to my regular fluids, carbs, and lytes per hour recommendations).  I recommend a food that they’ll look forward to, such as a salty savory rice burrito or cheese crackers if individually they do well with a solid whole-food snack.  Dr. Lim’s Rice Cakes may be a perfect fit for this 3-hour “treat food.”  If you try it out, make sure to keep the portion small as suggested on the recipe and do not “double up”  in order to avoid stomach issues and blood flow diversion.  Remember…small amounts of drinks and foods throughout the ride.  This one may be a keeper for me, or may not, but I’m excited to try.  Loads of cyclists are reporting good rides using these on different forums.  What do you think?

Photo c/o Lava Magazine
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16 Responses to “ Loving the BITE: Dr. Lim’s Rice Cakes ”

  1. Charles on June 4, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Has anyone tried these during shorter XC type races? Thoughts?

    • Kelli, RD on July 1, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      Hi Charles,
      I haven’t, but would think that the time it takes to eat and digest solids would make them a bit inconvenient for anything shorter than 3 hours. They would be a great pre-race fuel option, though.

  2. Heather H on March 22, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    I remember reading the article in Lava and wanting to try these! Thanks for reminding me!

    When I started running & biking I had an incredibly sensitive stomach, to the point I thought I would never be able to do rides/runs longer than 2-3 hours because anything I ate or drank made me sick. I found Infinit and it worked great for me, I didn’t touch another food or drink during workouts for years! I still had occasional issues but it was much better. Then a couple years ago through an elimination diet I found that I’m pretty sensitive to wheat. After eliminating wheat from my diet, I found my stomach is less sensitive. I still use Infinit a lot but I’ve tried quite a few other things without getting sick! Might be something to think about for others with “super sensitive stomachs”

    • Kelli, RD on March 22, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      Great point, Heather!  Yes, sometimes it’s not what is consumed on the bike that’s the problem, but general GI health, and intolerances that are exacerbated when cycling.  So, it’s good to think outside the box.  I’ve also found that while cyclists don’t have as many issues as runners (due to less jostling of the stomach), they sometime have unique ones.  I had one client who suffered a lot of indigestion on the bike due to his position while riding.  It’s a great reason to get a professional bike fit (with Victor, of course!).  Thanks again! 

  3. Bentley on March 22, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Bacon?  I’m a vegetarian, can I substitute that with something or leave it out?  I guess I could use veggie bacon, but don’t generally like the taste.

    • Kelli, RD on March 22, 2012 at 2:35 pm

      Hmmm.  I’m trying to think of a vegetarian food substitution that would hold up, not cause gastric distress, and not be a risk for spoilage.  I’ll let you know if I come up with something…in the meantime, I’d recommend just leaving it out.  The bacon  adds a small amount of protein, lots of sodium, and flavor, so just make sure to get any extra sodium you need from other sources when riding long distance.  Enjoy!

    • Kory Seder on March 25, 2013 at 9:21 pm

      sauteed onions. (substitute in your favorite flavor – bacon is just
      that to many people)

  4. Bentley on March 22, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Bacon?  I’m a vegetarian, can I substitute that with something or leave it out?  I guess I could use veggie bacon, but don’t generally like the taste.

  5. Bentley on March 22, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Bacon?  I’m a vegetarian, can I substitute that with something or leave it out?  I guess I could use veggie bacon, but don’t generally like the taste.

  6. Stevie Dexter on March 22, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Chapeau Kelli!

    Having made 3 batches of these over the last month after reading pretty much everything online… and watching a few videos, this is without doubt the most comprehensive and informative article on this superb bike food. Well done.

    Now the in-house (but very much sincere) back slapping has been done I have a few tips for those of you smart enough to listen to Kelli’s advice and start making these for your rides. Personally I’ve found them a welcome change from the ‘Cocaine Bars’ as seen on Wade Wallace’s CylingTipsBlog. Those bars are super sweet and almost too good, they should only be used for the longest of rides – no cocaines were harmed in the making of those bars. In this one though, we get to beat the crap out of a load of eggs… anyway:

    - Sushi rice is perfect for this recipe. I have no idea if this is the same as Cal Rose’s rice, I don’t know who he is.

    - You WILL need the soy sauce. I didn’t add it to the first lot and although nice, it was like eating plain rice… well it was eating plain rice. It makes an already easy to eat food… yummy!

    - When you place it in a dish to cool and ‘set’ throw in some grease-proof paper under it, enough to grab the ends of and pull it all out flat onto the work surface. Due to the ricey nature if you try and cut and then spatula it out once it’s hardened you tend to loose quite a bit. Once it’s flat on the work surface, cut slowly with a sharp knife into desired size, usually about 2″x2″ or a little larger.

    - I have been wrapping mine in foil and I cannot stress how important properly wrapping these bad boys is. Check out this video of Dr Lim himself and see how he wraps the foil. It makes them really easy to get into as if you start stabbing at the foil with one hand whilst on the bike you may find your front mech has quite a bit of rice stuck in it! http://youtu.be/5UiuqIWGe_s?t=4m25s

    - They last about 1 week in the fridge in an air tight container. I make enough for the week’s commute and longer rides. I have been testing them in the freezer. Some biologist or food technician will probably tell me I’m going to die of something if I do this but the first batch tested in the freezer seemed to come out ok if not a little stodgy. It’s not ideal to do it that way but if you suddenly find you are not going to eat them all before they go bad… whack them in the fridge… whats the worst that could happen!?

    - Once stored in the fridge they get a little bit harder and more compacted so if they seem a bit ‘flaky’ when you first cut them up, don’t worry.

    - Don’t tell the rest of the chain gang about them until you’ve eaten your last bite… they will mug you for these!

    You must try these rice cakes. They really are sooper easy to make and a proper treat on the bike.

    Stevie
    d8^)

    • Kelli, RD on March 22, 2012 at 2:31 pm

      Thanks so much for the comments and extra advice!  I’m glad to have more info from someone who’s field tested it!

  7. Jr on March 22, 2012 at 8:43 am

    I’ve heard about these before but never researched them at all.  This post has so much great information and I learned so much valuable information and wanted to thank you for that.  I have learned along the way that what works for me doesn’t always work for others so I agree with your comments on individuality.  After seeing what is in them, I don’t think I’ll try the rice cakes.

    • Kelli, RD on March 22, 2012 at 10:24 am

      Thank you so much for your comment.  I think individual preference, within good choices that meet your fuel needs, is the key.  Take care!  Kelli, RD

  8. Jr on March 22, 2012 at 8:43 am

    I’ve heard about these before but never researched them at all.  This post has so much great information and I learned so much valuable information and wanted to thank you for that.  I have learned along the way that what works for me doesn’t always work for others so I agree with your comments on individuality.  After seeing what is in them, I don’t think I’ll try the rice cakes.

  9. Jr on March 22, 2012 at 8:43 am

    I’ve heard about these before but never researched them at all.  This post has so much great information and I learned so much valuable information and wanted to thank you for that.  I have learned along the way that what works for me doesn’t always work for others so I agree with your comments on individuality.  After seeing what is in them, I don’t think I’ll try the rice cakes.

  10. Jr on March 22, 2012 at 8:43 am

    I’ve heard about these before but never researched them at all.  This post has so much great information and I learned so much valuable information and wanted to thank you for that.  I have learned along the way that what works for me doesn’t always work for others so I agree with your comments on individuality.  After seeing what is in them, I don’t think I’ll try the rice cakes.

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