As cyclists, we’re constantly hearing about the amazing new trend or superfood that claims to help us cycle better, faster or for longer. From wolfing down every source of protein available to cabbage soup for breakfast, we’ve done it all. Check out our top five cycling diet myths that are a waste of your precious training time!
Carbs make you fat
This is a complete diet myth – in fact, the key to getting and staying slim is to have a diet that is full of the right type of carbohydrates, such as quinoa, porridge oats, brown rice and sweet potato. These foods release their energy slowly during the day, meaning that you won’t be reaching for junk food to curb your hunger pangs! Foods like this are considered to be ‘good carbs’, providing you with enough fuel to train hard, maintain your blood sugar levels and perform to the best of your ability. Foods such as heavy pastas, greasy chips and refined breads which are considered ‘bad carbs’ as they are low in nutrients and tend to be heavily processed. These carbs are high in calories and fat, so should be avoided if you’re looking to lose weight while training. Swap out that pizza for pitta and you’ve turned this myth on its head!
Only drink when you’re thirsty
Only drinking when you are thirsty is a massive sporting myth held in the cycling community and beyond. While the amount of water you drink for peak performance is sport-specific, in the cycling world it is advised that you hydrate frequently while riding. An easy way to keep on top of your hydration levels is aiming to balance your water intake with your sweat loss. So chances are, if that flat stretch isn’t raising your heart rate, you can hold back on the liquids! Equally, if you’re training or competing in the heat (or just plain ol’ thirsty) you should respond to your body’s needs. Everything in moderation!
Supplements are vital
Some pro cyclists swear by supplements, some have never touched them. The truth is that supplements are not the gateway to better performance – while they may aid you to some degree, improving your cycling comes down to the work you put in on your saddle. Marketing campaigns may try to convince you of the newest vitamin that will benefit your training, but unless you have a diagnosed deficiency then you shouldn’t need it. In fact, recent studies have suggested that there is no nutritional supplement that has ever proved to significantly enhance performance – so you can put your wallets away!
Protein is all an athlete needs
The last few years have seen protein being marketed as a universal elixir for all things healthy and performance boosting – whether it’s packaged in a powder, shake, bar or spread. Some cyclists buy into the belief that protein is the holy grail food needed to ride for longer and become leaner, but this is a dietary myth. While we do need protein, consuming it in excess – or isolation – does not benefit an endurance sport like cycling. Carbohydrates and fats are the fuels our bodies need to give us enough energy to keep pushing through when experiencing burning legs or shortness of breath. Protein has a slower gastric emptying rate, meaning it stays in your stomach for longer than other foods and a large amount can make you feel weighed down. Just like all food groups – keep it balanced!
Skipping breakfast makes you slimmer
Many people believe that skipping their morning meal is the quickest and most sure fire way to lose weight, but that’s not the case. Breakfast is one of the most essential meals of the day, kick starting your metabolism and fuelling your body for the day ahead. When you skip it, you’ll find yourself trying to curb your hunger by snacking instead – so you’ll actually end up eating more than normal! Skipping breakfast can also make you irritable, rising your cortisol levels. This can increase the storage of fat in areas like your stomach and make you feel stressed out. The bottom line? They don’t call it the most important meal of the day for no reason!
Looking for the best diet to boost your training? Check out our article on periodized nutrition here.