Non-Sugar Nutrition for Cyclists
Because of my recent gastric bypass surgery, sugar is a huge issue with me. Eating anything with more than 8 grams of sugar causes me to have major intestinal issues. I have to be extremely careful, especially while riding. On long rides I will take Gu packages and take small peanut butter and fruit spread (no sugar added jam) on wasa toast with me. The only over the counter bar that I have found to take is the Think Thin bars, but the chocolate coatings on them make them messy and useless while riding.
Prior to riding, usually in the mornings, I eat a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and an egg. During longer rides I use Nuun. Post ride I will sometimes make protein shakes with fresh or frozen berries or Whole wheat or Sourdough toast with cream cheese.
If you have any ideas for pre ride, on the bike and post ride nutrition I would truly appreciate it.
Here are some ideas for you:
Pre-ride before long rides: Your current choice of toast, pb, and an egg is fine. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you can also add organic coconut oil before riding as it will provide an efficient energy source similar to carbs/sugar, without any carbs/sugar. Also, any addition of whey protein may help as again it’s an efficient and fast-acting nutrient source, without the carbs. Other options before include a smoothie such as our Pre-training Smoothie. If you require just small amounts at a time, this can be consumed in 3 portions every 30 minutes from @ 90 min, 60 min, and 30 min out. Since it is liquid, it is usually easy to digest and doesn’t set in the stomach too much. You can reduce the sugar by reducing the honey and berries to an acceptable amount, and then increasing oats, organic coconut oil, adding ½ scoop whey, and/or adding cooked rice (assuming these starchy carb foods work better for you than sugars from fruit/honey or other sources). Lastly, I’m not sure if you’ve tried Chia Seeds yet? They are a high fiber, high fat seed that is known for long lasting energy, without sugar and generally without digestional issues. You can try them added into your peanut butter, adding into a smoothie, or added into oatmeal such as in our Overnight Chia Oats (again, adjust honey as needed).
Along the same lines, during a ride you can rely more on carbs from starches and starchy vegetables rather than sugars. The wasa cracker plus peanut butter and sugar-free jelly is a good option. In addition, for rides shorter between 90 minutes and 3 hours, try these very easy to make Lemon Bars, reducing dates and honey by half (this will leave you with more nuts than sugar) and experimenting with adding chia seeds, whey powder, and coconut oil (you just food process to chop up and then mash together to form bars or balls). Another option is squeezable baby food sweet potatoes…I know if may sound weird, but many, many low-sugar athletes use these. I’ve also posted recipes for homemade mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato fries, and potato cakes that may work well. KIND bars with added protein tend to be relatively low in sugar, and may be a good option (this one has only 8 grams of sugar). Another commercial option includes Power Bar Reduced Sugar. For longer rides when your body can use more real foods and protein, try these rice burritos.
NUUN or other low-carb electrolyte drinks are good choices for you. If you can tolerate maltodextrin or cornstarch based drinks, you may do well with drinks like HEED or UCAN for the longer rides when your body can usually use carbs from both foods and drinks well.
Lastly, to recover after hard rides try to consume about 20-40 grams of carbs and 20 grams protein from any source you tolerate well. Sweet potatoes, oats, and brown rice work well. Make sure to add protein such as eggs, meats, tuna, or dairy (if tolerated). Or, if a smoothie works for you, whey or dairy + berries + sweet potato, cooked oats or rice (to get just a bit more carbs without sugar) + 1 Tbsp organic coconut oil can work well. The bread and cream cheese is a little too low in protein, so maybe add in an egg? After easier rides simply “time” a regular meal or snack afterwards, and if able, add in the coconut oil (into the meal or taken by spoon like a supplement). To aide recovery and reduce soreness, 5 grams l-glutamine before and after hard rides can help AND it’s great for the digestive tract.
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.