Loving the BITE: Why Cyclists should drink Apple Cider Vinegar
A couple years ago, I introduced a “health tonic” to help fight colds and sinus infections and improve overall health. It works great, and as more readers chimed in, I’ve learned that this old-fashioned folk-medicine-cure-all is used by many different people in different cultures all over the world.
But there’s more to this story for a cyclist. We’ve also discussed on “miracle-cure” for cramps in a post about pickle juice, vinegar & mustard. As you’ve read, once again, it’s the vinegar that does the trick.
And these secrets are actually not secrets at all. New anti-cramp health-benefitting products crop up all the time that feature apple cider vinegar.
Today, we’ll put it altogether. Here’s the how and why cyclists should drink (diluted) apple cider vinegar, including an easy tonic a bit easier to swallow than the last.
Recipe of the Week: Vinegar Tonic for Cramp-Free Cycling
- 1 Tbsp organic raw Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 Tbsp strong-tasting 100% juice such as cherry (good for joints!), pomegranate, or grape
- Alternatively, substitute 1 tsp raw honey for juice
- ~3 ounces water
- Optional add-ins: 1/2 tsp ground ginger, turmeric, or cinnamon; fresh mint
Mix all ingredients and drink. Add optional add-ins if desired.
My last tonic was effective, but not delicious. At all. It took plugging my nose before I was able to choke it down. And, while it was immediately effective for me in relieving sinus pressure and avoiding sinus infections, it wasn’t something I could get myself to drink every day.
This, I can.
Not only can I drink the new tonic every day, I look forward to it and find it refreshing. Why am I making this a daily habit in 2016? I know from research and anecdotal testimonies that it improves overall wellness – everything from healthy blood sugars to blood cholesterol to weight to reducing common colds. Almost twenty-five hundred years ago, Hippocrateds used it to reduce infections and manage wounds and the Chinese used it to avoid infections during autopsies as early at the 10th century. For a full research review on it, you can access this document for free at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1785201/.
I also know it’s a great mucus-busting phlem-fighter. This is immediately obvious when you drink it. Your throat will feel clearer, sinuses drain, and pressure is relieved. Since many cyclists suffer from phelm build-up on the bike, why not try to proactively fight it with this daily tonic?
A couple anecdotes I’ve shared that may help (these are only 2 out of many, many stories from clients): First, I work with one ultra-runner who had been plagued with sinus infections most of his life, and has had unsuccessful sinus surgery to alleviate the problem. Still, he suffered many debilitating sinus infections per year. Since taking the tonic at the on-set of any symptoms, he’s not had one sinus infection in two years. Other athletes have experienced the same results, but less dramatic stories. And secondly as for myself, I’ve suffered three severe sinus infections in my life, all in the past five years. The kind where you can’t eat because your teeth hurt too much, can’t look down because the pressure in your head is too great, and can’t clear out your sinuses no matter how much you’ve steamed your face and used a neti pot (these two are still often helpful, but now I use them in conjunction with ACV). Hasn’t happened again since the health tonic. Several times I’ve felt one coming on and went into action early.
Third, vinegar is a proven cramp-fighter. I don’t know how it works exactly. And, most of the research began with pickle juice. As I was studying up on it for a podcast a few years back, I learned that pickle juice relieves cramps effectively and quickly (in research & practice) – I’ve since experienced success with it with my own clients. It had been hypothesized that the very high sodium content was the reason. However, researchers found that the relief was much too fast for the sodium to have even been digested and absorbed by the gut. It was something else. Something acidic: the likely hero is vinegar.
Although it’s not clear how, vinegar seems to work at a nerve-level, beginning its action as soon as it hits the mouth. Researchers from North Dakota State University have speculated that the muscles are cramping due to exhaustion, and misfiring. The vinegar may somehow send nervous system signals that stop it.
And last but not least, it seems that vinegar promotes energy production and glycogen replenishment, at least in animal studies. Vinegar, which is chemically known as acetic acid, can provide the acetyl group that is a fundamental building block during the Krebs Cycle, metabolizing carbohydrates and fat to produce energy/ATP for cells. Yes, more reasons to love vinegar.
Here are some very important warnings:
- Don’t drink it without diluting it at least 8:1 (other fluid : vinegar). In the rare cases of esophageal tissue damage, the vinegar was consumed, often in large amounts, straight.
- If possible, use a straw and don’t hold it in your mouth. Highly acidic fluids can damage tooth enamel.
- Vinegar can delay gastric emptying, so be careful using it right before a ride if you’ve just eaten, or just note if you continue to feel full (this is true in research, but does not seem to be an issue for athletes in practice.
- Lastly, do choose raw ACV. Like other raw fermented foods, it will provide the added bonus of healthy bacteria. With this in mind, it’s fine to drink every day, even twice per day if you’d like.
This may be the most delicious vinegar drink you’ve ever drank – especially if you focus on all the benefits. If you do decide to give it a try on the daily, I would love to hear your observations. Less cramps? Less colds? Weird looks from the kids? Let us know what you find, and keep pedaling strong today.
Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.
If you’d like to work with Kelli one-on-one with a Custom Nutrition Plan & Coaching, or download one of her acclaimed Instant Download Plans like Fuel Right Race Light, click here: Apex Nutrition Plans for Endurance Athletes. Be sure to use coupon code lovingthebike for a 15% discount!