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Hi all,

I've started commuting longer distances now that I've returned to uni following placement - this has left me feeling REALLY hungry though, I'd like some advice about nutrition.

I'm 21 and 67kg - fairly fit and, until recently, I'd usually cycle 100 miles per week - 2 x 25mile round trip commute and 2 x 25mile punchy/fast road rides.

I'm gradually upping my cycling to 3 x 35mile round commute and subsequently reducing to 1 x 25mile punchy/fast road ride on the weekend (occasionally to be replaced by a longer 50/60 mile hard road ride).

I eat healthily, generally following a Mediterranean diet. At 67kg and 5'11, with a fairly lean physique, I look scrawny enough as it is, so I don't want to lose much (if any) more weight.

My problem comes because I don't want to add any more starchy bread into my diet (about 2/3 slices a day average), but I know I need carbs to replace what I will have burnt cycling. For what it's worth, my Strava/Garmin are estimating I burn somewhere between 1200 and 1600 calories each day I commute (my perceived effort would make me think it's less than this).

I'm not overly concerned about a huge amount of protein intake either, as my commutes are taken at a steady pace, my muscles don't feel like they have been worked very hard.

So I'm looking for a food that is reasonably filling, replaces carbs (not sugars) and maybe has a little bit of protein - easy/cheap to home make is a big bonus too! I know bananas fill this criteria (yes, I know I don't have to make them), but I eat enough of them already!

I was thinking of rice cakes or possibly oatcakes - any suggestions (preferably not expensive energy/recovery bars)?

 

 

 

25 comments

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barongreenback [120 posts] 8 months ago
1 like

Oatcakes and a nut butter of your choice.  Keeps me going. 

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Simboid [142 posts] 8 months ago
1 like

At last week's Nec bike show I tried ALL the energy bars, gels, etc and came to 2 conclusions: Torq gels are lush (and I don't really like gels) and Chia Charge make the nicest flapjacks.

For some reason which makes no business sense the Chia bloke has his recipes online! I have some freshly made sea salt ones on the side right now with peanut butter instead of sunflower seeds, yum! 

They cost about £2 to make a dozen big ones, around £20 if you bought them. Chia is no fad either, read 'Born to run' and find out for yourself. If the Tarahumara can run 100+ miles on it it's not rubbish. Aldi sell milled chia cheaply.

Give it a go, it's cheap enough for you to make a few different combinations and see what you really like.

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Grahamd [940 posts] 8 months ago
1 like

Soreen malt loaf  1

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sergius [537 posts] 8 months ago
1 like

I had something similar when I started commuting to work on the bike (I was doing 16 miles each way + gym at lunch 3-4 days a week).  Having an office I was able to have porridge when I arrived rather than before I left - something that's likely not as easy for a student to arrange.

The other thing I used to do was take a few extra marmite sandwiches with me to have mid-morning/mid-afternoon.  Brown bread, about 200 calories per two slices and high in fibre/vitamins etc.  Plain crackers also worked well for me.

 

There's no reason to be afraid of carbs... Even now I no longer commute on the bike (weekend warrior) I'll have 5-6 slices of bread at lunch along with pasta/cous-cous or something similiarly high in carbs for dinner.  I'm 175cms and 62kg, so definately on the skinny side.

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captain_slog [443 posts] 8 months ago
3 likes

Just eat, eat, eat! You're young, fit, healthy and active. The only thing to be worried about is not eating enough. When your mum asks if you're eating properly you may roll your eyes but she's right (mums usually are). Also remember that it's not just your legs you need to feed. When you're studying your brain is using a significant amount of calories: thinking is hard work.

Listen to your body. If you want to eat more bread then do. The less-processed varieties such as sourdough and wholemeal are better but also more expensive. Alternatives are baked potatoes, risotto, gnocchi, pasta, omelettes, more pasta. Cous cous takes minutes to prepare and is very versatile (mix it with olives, spring onions, toasted almonds and feta, dress with lemon juice and olive oil, chuck in some herbs or rocket).

Cook porridge, make flapjack, snack on nuts and dried fruit, prepare your own granola. Enjoy this great time.

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dottigirl [814 posts] 8 months ago
4 likes

You need fat and protein to fill you up - just eating carbs will send your blood sugar up for it to plummet to even lower levels.

I'd suggest whole milk straight after exercise - milk's really good for killing hunger too. Try to get the unhomogenised Jersey stuff. 

A stick of black pudding from the butcher is cheap and filling - just takes a few minutes to fry off a few slices. I sometimes cook some sausages the night before, squeeze some ketchup in the middles, and take them with me wrapped in greaseproof paper. Not so cheap though.

I find a few slices of ham, salami, chorizo etc are great at killing hunger. Add a block of cheese and you could be audaxing. Bag of nuts and that'd be my last audax...

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nniff [228 posts] 8 months ago
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I rather suspect I eat garbage, but my 40 mile round trip commute is fuelled by a bowl of shreddies/fruit and fibre in the morning.  During the day, a ham sandwich and a cupasoup with some cheese, a few chocolate digestive biscuits and a big Belgian bun with icing.  Seems to work. I carry a boccadillo in case it goes wrong. The return trip is significantly uphill and that can go badly wrong if I haven't eaten enough or get involved in the 'races'.  If I start to get that dreaded clammy feeling I eat the boccadillo quickly or stop for coke and jelly babies. 

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il sole [87 posts] 8 months ago
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Simboid wrote:

At last week's Nec bike show I tried ALL the energy bars, gels, etc and came to 2 conclusions: Torq gels are lush (and I don't really like gels) and Chia Charge make the nicest flapjacks.

For some reason which makes no business sense the Chia bloke has his recipes online! I have some freshly made sea salt ones on the side right now with peanut butter instead of sunflower seeds, yum! 

They cost about £2 to make a dozen big ones, around £20 if you bought them. Chia is no fad either, read 'Born to run' and find out for yourself. If the Tarahumara can run 100+ miles on it it's not rubbish. Aldi sell milled chia cheaply.

Give it a go, it's cheap enough for you to make a few different combinations and see what you really like.

 

Can I just say, don't ever buy ground seeds - chia, linseed (flax) or any others as their nutrients  deplete rapidly once milled. if you want to have ground seeds, buy them whole and grind them yourself in a pestle and mortar. you don't need to grind them completely, just crack open the outer 'skin' so they can be readily absorbed. 

My advice is to make cheap flabjacks using proper oats from a health shop and add whole seeds or nuts to them before baking. you could also use peanut butter too...

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madcarew [638 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes

Porridge!! Complex carbs, not bread. Cheap. Add some butter or cream to it, make it with full fat milk and you will add some protein and fat.

I'm not sure why or how you think adding a couple slices of bread to your mediterranean diet will mess it up. The proportions of a diet need to be looked at as  a %ge of the calories. At (and taking a few guesses here) a power output of +/- 200W for a 35 mile journey (about 2 hours) is an energy consumption of 720kJ. At an efficiency of about 22% this works out to 3100kJ or 750cal.  

Now, here's the useful thing,  If you are averaging below 70% HR, most of your energy supply (85%+)comes from fat oxidation (there are a whole lot of caveats with this, but the point is useful) so you don't need to look at replacing your carbs, you just need to look at adding some calories into your diet. This could be a couple pieces of fruit and some nuts etc. You don't have to go nuts on the protein (sorry) at all. Just increase your diet in general to account for the extra calories burned. You certainly don't need to try to replace the ride calories with carbs. 

Simply, in answer to your question, just look at adding about 400 - 500 cals to your daily diet from across your diet spectrum and you will be fine. 

Good luck  1

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Canyon48 [882 posts] 8 months ago
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Cheers all, lot of good advice  4

Funnily enough, since me and my girlfriend moved in together, we've switched to wholemeal grains and we've started trying to work out what the heck to do with Chia.

Flapjack, oatcakes and rice cakes (with some chia and seeds/nuts added in somewhere) sounds like a good solution. Should be easy to batch bake and they'll survive the trip to uni in my rucksack.

Probably time do some baking (I mean, uni work...).

Anyone got any tips for conditioning legs for regular commuting? I can comfortably ride 130 miles in a week for a few weeks in a row (providing I have decent breaks between rides), but with commuting, I'll be doing 35 miles every other day at least. I am taking it slower, which helps a lot and giving a days recovery, but I know that after a couple of weeks my legs will begin to feel permanently tired and sore.

I'm guessing I need some stretches as well the appropriate nutrition to keep them going. I'll also have a few days off the bike if my legs are too fatigued (just waiting for my parking permit to arrive!).

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madcarew [638 posts] 8 months ago
1 like
nniff wrote:

I rather suspect I eat garbage, but my 40 mile round trip commute is fuelled by a bowl of shreddies/fruit and fibre in the morning.  During the day, a ham sandwich and a cupasoup with some cheese, a few chocolate digestive biscuits and a big Belgian bun with icing.  Seems to work. I carry a boccadillo in case it goes wrong. The return trip is significantly uphill and that can go badly wrong if I haven't eaten enough or get involved in the 'races'.  If I start to get that dreaded clammy feeling I eat the boccadillo quickly or stop for coke and jelly babies. 

You're quite right. You do eat garbage  3 , but you have that in common with much of the population. Just to say, if you were to add in a bit more cheese and meat / fish, or nuts, egg etc, and didn't start the day with shreddies, more like a bacon sarnie or something, that clammy feeling that you get in the evening on the quicker days wilol become a distant memory. Your diet spends the day rocketing your insulin levels up and down, and is really high in carbs / sugar as a %ge of your diet. Evening that out to more fat, and a bit more protein will level out the energy levels across the day, and leave more in reserve for the evening. If you were to ride into work and have breakfast after you get to work, the effect would be magnified. 

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Canyon48 [882 posts] 8 months ago
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Again on the legs, after a longer ride (particularly if I've ridden a few times in the previous week or so), I'm noticing my quads feel fairly tight as well as lumpy. I'm guessing a foam roller and stretching would help this a lot.

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madcarew [638 posts] 8 months ago
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wellsprop wrote:

Again on the legs, after a longer ride (particularly if I've ridden a few times in the previous week or so), I'm noticing my quads feel fairly tight as well as lumpy. I'm guessing a foam roller and stretching would help this a lot.

Foam roller and stretching, definitely, as well as one or 2 rides a week being gentle spins (95+rpm, HR 60 - 65%) Lunges will also probably help

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sergius [537 posts] 8 months ago
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wellsprop wrote:

Again on the legs, after a longer ride (particularly if I've ridden a few times in the previous week or so), I'm noticing my quads feel fairly tight as well as lumpy. I'm guessing a foam roller and stretching would help this a lot.

 

Practise makes perfect for me, add in a few gentle jogs or legs sessions in the gym (with stretching!) to keep things fresh.

 

I'll find if I ride for 3+ days in a row then I certainly feel fatigue, but one day off is generally enough for me.

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kil0ran [812 posts] 8 months ago
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I use oats, peanut butter, a small amount of golden syrup and one of raisins/choc drops/nuts/dates to prevent boredom.

Just combine all ingredients (can help to warm the peanut butter on the hub to speed up the mixing process) and freeze. Prep them in a baking tray on parchment paper and pre-cut them before freezing. They'll be slightly sticky so will need to be in a ziplock bag but will last for a long commute, even in summer.

Very cheap ingredients and certainly get me through to lunch without snacking

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Canyon48 [882 posts] 8 months ago
1 like
kil0ran wrote:

(can help to warm the peanut butter on the hub to speed up the mixing process)

Will my Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon disc hubs satisfy, or do I need rim brake specific  3

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rnick [145 posts] 8 months ago
2 likes

Porridge on a school day.
Kebabs and beer at the weekend, or a pot noodle if you're feeling healthy  1

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Canyon48 [882 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
rnick wrote:

Porridge on a school day. Kebabs and beer at the weekend, or a pot noodle if you're feeling healthy  1

I do fancy a kebab, haven't had one in ages.

I made myself some oatcake type things based on BBC Good Food's Scottish Oatcake recipe. I cut right back on the salt and added a little extra sugar, along with sultanas and some mixed seeds. They are somewhere between sweet and savoury, plenty of carbs, enough sugar and a bit of protein.

Took barely any effort to make, really cheap and goes well with a cup of tea.

Back on the bike tomorrow and Friday for commutes, hopefully these oatcake-flapjack things will keep the hunger at bay.

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madcarew [638 posts] 8 months ago
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As for upping the mileage and sore legs, they won't be 'permanently' sore, that will subside over a few weeks as you get used to the increased work load. However, what will help is after about 3 weeks have a week off or with significanly reduced mileage. This will allow that magic called recovery. ALso, for the first 4 weeks it's probably a good idea not tot ride at the weekend to get some recovery in and help you legs adapt. Hope this helps.

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Judge dreadful [290 posts] 8 months ago
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Eat a balanced diet, and increase your protein intake. A couple of years ago, I was pretty much the same weight and height as you are now (I was 65 Kgs, at 5'11"). It did make me appear a bit 'gaunt', so I just increased my portion sizes a bit, and increased amino / protein intake a bit, as I was moving from 'short sharp' rides to Long slow distance' ( zone 1-2 maximum, up to 200 miles at a time ) type rides. A Mediterranean type diet is superb for cycling, lots of 'good' fats in there, and plenty of vitamins. If you want an energy boost, and a hunger killer, try espresso with clarified butter / coconut oil, and a California roll, with crab meat. That's a very nice combo ( as long as you're okay with caffeine / seafood.

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StraelGuy [1361 posts] 8 months ago
2 likes

Dottigirls's right on this one (and madcarew). Since I switched to a more balanced approach to long rides instead of the usual 'carb's, carb's, carb's' thing, I feel a lot better. If I eat a fish finger butty before a long ride for example, rather than a bowl of pasta, I feel much stonger and for much longer.

 

* And yes, I know a fish finger butty is hardly haute cuisine but I'm a single bloke and don't really 'do' cooking yes.

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Simboid [142 posts] 8 months ago
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il sole wrote:

Can I just say, don't ever buy ground seeds - chia, linseed (flax) or any others as their nutrients  deplete rapidly once milled. if you want to have ground seeds, buy them whole and grind them yourself in a pestle and mortar. you don't need to grind them completely, just crack open the outer 'skin' so they can be readily absorbed. 

I can't find any evidence to support this for chia. Flax has a very short shelf life and quickly goes rancid, but ground chia actually has a higher absorbtion rate of micronutrients than whole and keeps for a long time, it should come vac-packed and resealable. Whole chia does have 3x the fibre, but if you wear bibshorts that's the last thing you want! Oxidation lets the nutrients start to decay but proper packaging and dilligent resealing will stop that, or at least drastically slow it. https://www.verywell.com/chia-seeds-ground-or-whole-2223478

Grinding stuff yourself is exactly that, a grind! The time it takes and the extra washing up makes me not bother. 

 

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simonmb [607 posts] 8 months ago
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Simboid wrote:

Grinding stuff yourself is exactly that, a grind! The time it takes and the extra washing up makes me not bother. 

 

I have a little single-speed coffee bean grinder. Always grind fresh. Chia one day, flax the next. Barely needs wiping out from one day to the next. Unless I'm actually grinding coffee beans in it.

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Jimmy Ray Will [881 posts] 8 months ago
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From what I'm picking up from what you written, my suspicion is that you are excessively controlling calories. Relax a bit, your body is still maturing, give it sufficient fuel to do that as it requires. 

I also agree that fats and proteins are important for you, potentially more important than managing carb levels. 

This I'd say is demonstrated by the sore legs you are struggling with. OK, to a degree, we all get accustomed to having a bit of fatigue in the legs, but really, you should be recovering from the mileage you are describing, especially if you are taking it easy. 

On the commutes, are you going at both ends equally, or are you riding say the morning hard and the evening easy? A word of warning would say that battering yourself twice a day at either end of the day will quickly dig you into a hole. 

 

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Canyon48 [882 posts] 8 months ago
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Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

From what I'm picking up from what you written, my suspicion is that you are excessively controlling calories. Relax a bit, your body is still maturing, give it sufficient fuel to do that as it requires. 

I also agree that fats and proteins are important for you, potentially more important than managing carb levels. 

This I'd say is demonstrated by the sore legs you are struggling with. OK, to a degree, we all get accustomed to having a bit of fatigue in the legs, but really, you should be recovering from the mileage you are describing, especially if you are taking it easy. 

On the commutes, are you going at both ends equally, or are you riding say the morning hard and the evening easy? A word of warning would say that battering yourself twice a day at either end of the day will quickly dig you into a hole. 

I don't pay much (if any) attention to actual calorie contents. Generally, I just try to choose healthy meals (usually with lots of veg) and I eat til I'm full. I'm also partial to a greasy sausage roll from the bakery if I've had a tough cycle/day.

When I was commuting to placement (half the distance, so 9 miles each way) both my commute rides were pretty full on - 3 days of that in a week was pretty punishing including the 9 hour working days. Three rides into commuting longer distances regularly, my average is 15mph and I'm taking it pretty easy both ways, to be honest, I haven't noticed it too much - it probably also helps that uni work hasn't ramped up yet so I have a lot of free time to relax.

I intend to up the effort a little next week and see how I feel - I doubt I can get a much higher average due to traffic, traffic lights and navigating the city.

Still feeling hungry though! Although, a tomato and sweet chill Focaccia turns out to be a very satisfying post-ride snack.