Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cycling & Raw Till 4: Tips For Avoiding Soreness/My Nutrition Routine

*I wrote this about a month ago but never posted, so here it is!

Yesterday I rode a 45 mile bike ride and I was pretty darn proud of myself! I was shocked though, when I got home, to find that everything but my legs were sore. My lower back was killing me, my wrists and elbow joints were sore from all the jolting of the last portion of my ride, and my jaw was so stiff and painful from... being open so that I could get in enough air during my ride? But by the next day, I was completely fine. And my legs still were not sore, which left me completely baffled. I mean, I guess that's a good thing, I suppose I did a few things right? And I'm definitely getting this biking thing down! 

So I wanted to share my tips for avoiding soreness and share my raw till 4 nutrition routine for biking/working out. It's been interesting, with the whole raw eating thing. I've been having to figure most of this out on my own and experiment a bit to find what works best for me. And because I'm riding pretty long distances, I have to make sure my body gets what it needs nutrition-wise so that I can make this a sustainable hobby.

I did a ton or research and experimenting, here is what I found works best for me:  

-I make sure to load up on lots of good calories/carbs/sugar before hand. This is especially important for morning rides because I've already digested everything from the day before and am left with little to no energy. I usually eat a few bananas (maybe like 4-6) or drink a smoothie. And by smoothie, I mean more like 3 smoothies. My typical smoothie consists of: 

1 cup of spinach
10 dates 
2-3 cups of juice, coconut water, or water 
1 pint of blueberries 
1-2 cups of mixed fruit. 
2-3 scoops of Green Superfood Powder 

That's about 1200 calories and leaves me with tons of energy! And like I said, it usually fills up about 2-3 regular glasses. Also, I like to get in a little bit of protein before which is found in most of these ingredients but especially the dates and powder. 

When I don't have time to make a smoothie though (or I'm feeling particularly lazy), I'll just eat a few bananas. At least 4 to sustain me. These are a really good pre-ride food, here's why: 

"Bananas, “They’re nature’s PowerBar,” boasts Dr. Louise Burke, head of Sports Nutrition at the Australian Institute of Sport and coauthor of The Complete Guide to Food for Sports Performance: Peak Nutrition for Your Sport. Bananas are loaded with digestible carbohydrates (read: fuel) and are packed with potassium, which aids in maintaining nerve and muscle function. The body doesn’t store potassium for very long, so a medium banana before a workout will help keep nutrient levels high." -source

A few other options are watermelon, apples, pineapple, mango, and peaches. 

"Always eat before starting your morning training. Sleeping depletes the liver’s store of glycogen, which is the major store of carbohydrate for blood sugar regulation. When this is reduced, your blood sugar level drops and fatigue sets in, making concentration difficult – particularly disadvantageous if you’re using your training session to learn a new technique. Look for foods high in carbohydrate, low in protein and low in fat" -source

"Generally, for more sensitive gastrointestinal systems and when there is less time to digest them, it is best to eliminate or reduce the consumption of whole grains and higher fiber foods.

Different carbohydrates affect blood glucose differently. Foods with a lower glycemic index, such as whole grains, brown rice and yogurt, cause a slower and more sustained release of blood glucose, while high GI foods like waffles, pancakes and white bread cause a more rapid rise in blood glucose. Some research has suggested that low GI carbohydrate foods are useful before exercise to provide a more sustained carbohydrate release." -source 

Also, another food to consider adding to your nutrition plan is the superfood, chia! 

It is said to:
"Provide energy
Boost strength
Bolster endurance
Level blood sugar
Induce weight loss
Aid intestinal regularity

Chia slows the impact of sugars on the system, if eaten together. Chia gel creates a physical barrierbetween carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down, which slows the conversion of carbs into sugar. That means the energy from the food is released steadily, resulting in more endurance. This is clearly of great benefit to diabetics in particular. It also means that I can combine chia with super-sweet tastes like apple juice and not get super-spiked ;)

Due to the exceptional water-absorption quality of chia, it can help you prolong hydration and retainelectrolytes, especially during exertion." -

-Also pre-hydrate, pre-hydrate, pre-hydrate!! I drink at least one glass of water before I even get started with my breakfast. And then I'll drink 1 or 2 more before I ride. This helps to get a head start on my hydration so I'm not dying of thirst while I ride. Which is especially important if you live in hotter climates like Texas. 

-And stretch to start warming those muscles up! 

-Keep hydrated! This is easy for me. It's especially hot where I live and I'm always chugging down the water. I always carry 2 large, 25 oz water bottles with me and I almost always finish both of them on my ride. And if I ride over 30 miles, I'll find a water fountain (usually in some random park on my route) to fill them up again. 

-Take a break during to refuel, this is important to me, especially during early morning rides when I don't have a lot in my system to give me energy. I usually stop every 10-15 miles and munch on a homemade energy ball or more bananas. These are sooooo helpful, especially because I tend to go really hard in the beginning of my ride and burn up most of the energy I got from my morning smoothie. I'll have to get up a recipe soon for the energy balls!

"Consuming carbohydrate during rides lasting an hour or longer enables you to ride longer and harder by providing glucose for your muscles when they begin to run out of glycogen (glycogen is stored carbohydrate in the muscle). Thus, energy production can continue at a high rate and endurance is enhanced.

Eddie Coyle, Ph.D. at the University of Texas in Austin, has shown that consuming carbohydrate during exercise at 70 percent of maximal effort can delay fatigue by 30 to 60 minutes. For the best results, try to take in 40 to 80 grams of carbohydrate (160 to 320 carbohydrate calories) every hour of cycling." -

I also found this: 

"Recent research has shown that a mixture of glucose and fructose drinks during exercise can improve performance by eight percent when compared to a glucose drink alone. This is a pretty big improvement in performance. To ensure you’re using the best sports drink available, don’t make your choice based on flavour alone – check the label to make sure it contains a mixture of glucose or maltodextrins and fructose." -source

I haven't tried it but I think a datorade on the go would be a great source for glucose and fructose. Especially made with coconut water to provide extra hydration and electrolytes! 


-Stretch, stretch, stretch! After my 45 mile ride, my back was absolutely killing me. So I immediately got on the floor and started rolling it out. Like curled up in a ball, rocking back and forth. A move I accredit to my years of gymnastic and holy cow, this helped so much. It had been cramped up in the same position of me hunched over my bike for three hours so it was nice to move it around and massage it a little bit. Also, stretching is a nice cool down and just stretching your muscles out helps to keep them from cramping and getting sore. Annnnnd stretching while your muscles are warm is the best way to become more flexible. This is the best time to stretch!! 

-Replenish electrolytes! I think this is pretty well known. Guys, I'm totally wiped out after a big ride like that. I sweat so much that by the time I get home, my face is crusty from all the dry salt on it (tmi?). I know that if I've been sweating like that, I've been dumping tons of electrolytes and if you don't replenish them right away, you'll feel like a total sack of potatoes. I don't drink Gatorade so my favorite source of electrolytes is.... pickles! I already love pickles so this was an easy choice for me. I usually only eat about half of a large pickle. I kind of eat them intuitively. Once they start tasting not so great, that means your body doesn't need any more. And so far, half is about all I can handle. They just have so much salt. However, they help a ton and make me feel immediately better. It's awesome. Something else I want to try out to help with electrolyte replenishing is coconut water! I don't know if I can handle it alone but maybe I'll make some sort of post-workout concoction.  

Here's a little bit about picklessss: 

"So here’s the deal on pickle juice. It’s good for you. Really good. Athletes have been on to it for some time as an alternative to sports drinks. The high mineral content is great for providing the body post work out electrolytes which help ward off muscle cramping. Additionally, the probiotics in the lactic acid fermentation process of pickles will help feed the good guys in our gut. This lends itself to boosting digestive function, and supporting immune health. Raw foodists have known the goods on pickle juice for ages, now it’s time to join the pickle juice party." -source

And if you want some more electrolyte info, read up here

-Hydrate! Your muscle cells need water and you want to make sure that after you are done exercising, that your body has all the water it needs. (This is especially important if you take an epsom salt bath because that will just suck more water out of your body. More on that in a second)

-Carb up and get in some good protein to repair muscles. I immediately eat an energy ball after my pickle. And as far as after that, I'm still working on what works best for me because I was completely exhausted after that last ride. It may have been the not-so-great night of sleep I had the night before but I'm trying to find something nutritious I can eat to completely replenish my energy levels after a strenuous workout like that. I had a chia seed, date, and blueberry smoothie after my ride because it was just about the only thing I had but it didn't quite do the trick to return my energy. Seriously, I was out for the rest of the day, all I could do was lay around. However, it seems that the antioxidants from the blueberries helped with my recovery so that was good? But I felt like I needed something more solid and filling, next time I'll try adding things like orange juice, bananas, and pineapples which are all recommended for post workout eats. Also, I read that it's important to avoid fat because it slows the digestion of carbs and protein your body needs to repair muscles and recover so that's good to know. Oh, and it's best to eat within 30 minutes of your workout, to get your body what it needs to recover! 

Here are a few things I've found to help recover after working out: 

-Eat foods with good protein such as spinach, nuts, hemp seeds, and beans. 
-Also, healthy fats and protein like quinoa and avocado. Rice is also good. 

"Did you know that fruit has protein? It does! Many fruits contain between 4-8% protein and as a significant part of your diet, they provide a significant amount of complete protein. That’s right, fruit is a complete protein with all 8 essential amino acids! On an average day, I’ll get anywhere from 18-22 grams of protein from fruit, which provides almost half of my daily protein requirements.

Non-sweet fruit like tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers also have protein.

Leafy green vegetables are a good source of protein. Two cups of kale has 4 grams while dandelion will have 3 grams. A head of leaf lettuce will provide about 5 grams. Basically, two large bunches of dark leafy greens each day will supply anywhere from 14-20 grams of protein. I eat most of my greens in green smoothies or shredded up in salads.

Spirulina is about 68% protein and also helps detoxify the body. It’s packed with vitamins and contains EFA’s (essential fatty acids).

Chlorella is about 60% protein and is known for it’s rapid tissue repair properties. It’s a great food if you’re very physically active or have higher protein requirements. Use it in your shakes to help speed up recovery times." -source

"Nuts and seeds are good sources of essential fatty acids. As already mentioned, omega 3 and 6 are essential, but omega 9 fatty acids are also important. They help decrease inflammation and enhance recovery. Look to eat a handful of nuts – such as almonds, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews and hazelnuts – and seeds – such as sesame and pumpkin – each day and you’ll recover quicker." -source

-Take a cold epsom salt bath to reduce inflammation and bring down body temp. Then alternate to a hot shower afterwards. It's always good to take a shower after a bath anyways to rinse off the toxins drawn out by the epsom salts. And this alternating between hot and cold helps to increase blood flow to those muscles! I think this was really the key to avoid my soreness. No part of my body was sore at all after my bath and it stayed that way for the rest of the day. Wohoo! 

That's what I've got so far. I'm still experimenting a bit, especially with my post-workout nutrition needs but I'm feeling pretty confidant about the before and during! So I'm going to work on that, as well as look into dinner the night before and how that would affect energy levels and what you should be eating. But it's been fun to learn what kind of foods your body needs and how they affect you at different parts of your workout. And being able to incorporate raw foods and finding these types of necessary nutritional elements from the earth instead of items that were made from a factory is even better! 

Do you guys have any suggestions for me?? I'd love to hear them!! 

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