There are times when I find myself out on a longer ride than I had planned, but I’m ill prepared with something to eat (I need to plan better). Sometimes the only place to grab a bite is at a c-store. Do you have any recommendations as to the best c-store snack?
Actually, you’re in luck, because most c-stores have a lot of good options that will work well for a ride. Remember that training fuel is kind of the opposite of healthy, everyday nutrition. When you’re eating for wellness, day in and day out, you want “clean” foods that are minimally processed, that are whole and even raw (fresh), and that digest slowly to promote gut health. These foods would usually be a disaster in the middle of a long ride. For training, you want quick digesting foods that will hit your bloodstream fast and not set in your stomach where they can cause stomach cramps. So, at a c-store:
You can almost always find bottled water and or sports drinks. In a pinch, even if it wouldn’t be your first choice, Gatorade will replenish fluid, lytes, and carbs. If you carry powdered sports drink mix with you, you can always add that to bottled water.
Next, you can usually find some sort of sports bar, granola bar, or fruit bar (fig bars or Nutritgrain bars). Although these have “junk” ingredients as far as wellness goes, they will provide a quick source of easy-to-digest carbs. If you find sports bars, make sure they are not “protein” bars. During a ride, stick to a ratio of 4:1 grams of carbs : grams of protein or less – extra protein will slow the digestion.
Raisins work well. Some c-stores have ugly-looking bananas – this will work. On really long rides, I’m not above using candy like Mike ‘n Ikes or jelly beans – these will work much the same as “sports beans.” But, if you go for this type of food, beware that you’ve got to eat small amounts of it for the remainder of your ride to avoid a “low” energy after a “high.”
In Colorado (I’ve been told I’m spoiled with my sports nutrition selection here), you can even find “sports gels” at a convenience store, so look around, you may be surprised.
During rides over 60 minutes, your most important nutrition factors are fluids, lytes, and carbs. Keep it simple and don’t worry too much about eating some junk. Then, for your daily nutrition needs, hit the produce section of you local market and stay away from c-stores!
Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to www.apexnutritionllc.com.