Monday, April 16, 2012

What I eat while biking

Going simple this time - at the request of a new friend, here is what I eat on a bike:

I watch my diet very carefully. I don't necessarily eat the same things that everyone might on such a trip. Especially since I set out on this trip not know how long I would be riding for, I have attempted to make my bike food as normal, healthy and palatable as possible. I also allow myself quite a bit of flexibility in my diet, as I believe the least healthy thing in life is stress, and stressing over what to eat is unhealthy.

While biking I aim to eat with the following goals in mind:
  • Whole foods (with as little processing as possible)
  • High calorie, good fats
  • High calorie to weight ratio
  • High nutrient density (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants)
  • Tasty
  • Within a budget
  • Organic and/or local when possible
I tend to eat lots of nuts, fruits (dried and fresh), beans, brown rice and oats. I actively avoid white flower, corn syrup (especially the high-fructose variety) and packaged foods with ingredients listings longer than a few lines. I eat fresh, green veggies when I have a kitchen to cook in and/or refrigeration for a night or two.

I seek to intake a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and fiber. I eat a plant based diet. I have found that my intake on long biking days (over 70 miles) is often around 4000 calories. I weigh around 185 lbs, and my bike, fully loaded, weighs around 100 lbs. I chose to eat well rather than to have a light load.

Here is my usual shopping list for foods to eat while biking, per day (not including dinner or breakfast):
  • 1 fresh apple and one orange: (these are the easiest fruits to find local and/or organic) I often carry a 2-3 day supply. During summer, fruit stands and grocery stores are plentiful on rural roads. Nothing beats an orange late in the afternoon for a refreshing pick-up. Slicing the apple and eating ½ in a sitting, with peanut butter or cheese is a great way to go.
  • 1 lb of trail mix: I make my own mix, depending on what is cheap and/or organic at the local store, including peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, raisins, golden raisins, cranberries, apricots, pumpkin seeds and any other dried fruits/nuts reasonably priced.
  • 2-3 granola bars: One of the more processed foods on my list. I look for bars with short ingredients lists which have no corn syrup and limited corn products, and whose first ingredient is whole oats.
  • 2-4 ounces of whole grain crackers: Triscuits, Wheat-thins or their Earth-friendly imitations with a larger variety of grains.
  • 2-4 ounces of cheese: High calorie to weight ratio, goes great with crackers or apples, satisfies deep hunger.
  • 2-3 carrots: I always get the fresh “bunch” carrots, which are skinnier and fit well in a water bottle when the greens are snapped off. They'll stay fresh and crunchy for a week.
  • 2-4 ounces of peanut butter: I often dip my carrots into the jar. Also good on apples or crackers.
  • Dessert: Cookies often fit the bill here, and break most of my guidelines, but they are tasty, full of calories and carbs, and can be a wonderful psychological boost. I've become particularly fond of Barbara's raspberry fig bars. I also keep dark chocolate on hand.
I have camped in about half of the places that I've stayed, but usually take layover days at the home of a friend or couch-surfing host, and thus eat dinner and breakfast indoors more often than not. Here's what I eat when camping:

Breakfast is either:
  1. Old fashioned rolled oats (or a multi-grain mix), cooked with a handful of trail-mix for 5 minutes. Honey and cinnamon added to taste.
  2. Granola and powdered milk.
For dinner I eat brown rice and lentils, prepared, with little variation, in one of the following ways:
  1. Onion, garlic, cajun seasoning and, if available, dehydrated refried black beans. A one inch cube of cheese sliced up and added at the end, if available.
  2. Onion, garlic, curry powder, cayenne and whatever fresh vegetables are available (often broccoli). Add honey and peanut butter at the end.

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