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Thread: Commuter Diet

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    Master of the Universe Angus37's Avatar
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    Commuter Diet

    When I ride home I feel like I am exhausted. My legs feel wobbly and jello-like and I am wondering if my diet has anything to do with that.

    I eat a bowl of cold cereal for breakfast in the morning and have 1-2 sandwiches for lunch (usually peanut butter or some sort of meat).

    My ride is 6 miles each way so it's not too bad, and while the desert heat (100+ in the afternoon) certainly doesn't help, are there any suggestions as to what I could/should be eating differently to give me more energy on the homebound commute?

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    How's your hydration?

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    Senior Member bhop's Avatar
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    How long have you been commuting? I was like that at first because my body just wasn't used to it. I'd get home after 13 miles and feel like collapsing, but now, after a few months of doing it, I actually feel pretty good when I get home.

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    How early/late do you eat lunch? I bike home around 5 and if I only eat a PB&J at around noon, my energy level is noticeably lacking. I generally eat lunch and then eat a PB&J around 3 or 4 in the afternoon; that gives me enough energy to get home comfortably at the pace I like to maintain.

    If I don't have that second sandwich then I'll eat a gel pack right before I change to ride home. Gel packs aren't as good as real food, but they do in a pinch.

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    L T X B O M P F A N S R apricissimus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bhop View Post
    How long have you been commuting? I was like that at first because my body just wasn't used to it. I'd get home after 13 miles and feel like collapsing, but now, after a few months of doing it, I actually feel pretty good when I get home.
    Ditto for me. When I first started, my commute was only 6 miles each way, and I got the jelly legs. It just took some time and some miles for that to go away.

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    Gitane GranTour Navy_Chief's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vaticdart View Post
    How early/late do you eat lunch? I bike home around 5 and if I only eat a PB&J at around noon, my energy level is noticeably lacking. I generally eat lunch and then eat a PB&J around 3 or 4 in the afternoon; that gives me enough energy to get home comfortably at the pace I like to maintain.

    If I don't have that second sandwich then I'll eat a gel pack right before I change to ride home. Gel packs aren't as good as real food, but they do in a pinch.
    +1 it sounds like a lack of hydration along with a drop in blood sugar. 6 miles is not really enough to justify sports specific nutrition products but try having a few fig bars or something before the ride and make sure you are drinking plenty of water through the day; hydration is not a race, it is an endurance event (meaning you have to drink through the day not just before the ride).

    Chief

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    No plan. peabodypride's Avatar
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    Seconding extra hydration during the day. Between 20 and 30 minutes before you leave eat just a few calories, perhaps an apple and a few crackers or other food just to get you home. This way you have maybe 150-200 carbs to get home on and then eat a good meal. Cereal and small sandwiches is a fine diet if you don't like lots of fruits and veggies (like me) and just want to eat simply with no junk food. Lots better than going out to eat!! I commute 17 miles each way and make due with some toast and cereal in the morning, a small lunch, and (since I am a student with a meal plan) eat dinner at school, come home, then eat 200 carbs so I'm not hungry all night.

    Sounds like the heat is also doing a number on you too!

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    drink more water. I have a hydration pack, I only hike with it, but in that heat i would bike with it too. you're probably just not drinking enough water and not keeping your glucose and electrolytes(sp?) up. grab a banana before you leave in the afternoon. and in that heat drink gatorade mixed 50/50 with water, if you drink it straight it's not quite as effective in hydration, and it's too strong for me.

    and since you're bike commuting, don't be scared to eat a little bit more at meals! it's one of those perks we talk about...
    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    I learned this the hard way. They say that experience is the best teacher, but I would have been preferred to just read about it on the internet.

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    No plan. peabodypride's Avatar
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    By the way, this is an cycling adage you need to adhere to for endurance: eat before you feel hungry and drink before you feel thirsty.

    More water+small "ride-home" fuel==no worries.

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    Senior Member slowjoe66's Avatar
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    For me, the only time I bonk out is when I'm too hungry or slightly dehydrated. It's 100 degrees here and that is not really a problem, just eat eat eat. Eat and drink a bunch of clear cold water within an hour or so of riding home.
    I don't have a solution but I admire the problem!

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    POWERCRANK addict markhr's Avatar
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    What works for me:

    lots of carbohydrates (wholewheat preferably), more fresh fruit and vegetables, more protein (fresh meat/chicken, not processed crap)

    more water throughout the day, sip constantly, don't try and drink 10l at once

    avoid salty or sugary processed crap

    have your biggest meal of the day at breakfast time, next biggest at lunch and the last meal/2 meals should be snack sized so you don't go to bed on a full stomach

    try and have 4-5 smaller meals a day rather than 2-3 large meals
    shameless POWERCRANK plug
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    Don't run red lights, wear a helmet, use hand signals, get some cycle lights(front and rear) and, FFS, don't run red lights!

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    Ramen noodles and beer.


    actually, well yea.
    I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle

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    No plan. peabodypride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markhr View Post
    What works for me:

    lots of carbohydrates (wholewheat preferably)
    Watch out for the cheaper brands that are labeled "healthy" but contain HFCS in them. I know not everyone has a local bakery or bread-maker. It's just a game of eat as few prepackaged foods as you can.

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    i won't f us over Vodalus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markhr View Post
    What works for me:

    lots of carbohydrates (wholewheat preferably), more fresh fruit and vegetables, more protein (fresh meat/chicken, not processed crap)

    more water throughout the day, sip constantly, don't try and drink 10l at once

    avoid salty or sugary processed crap

    have your biggest meal of the day at breakfast time, next biggest at lunch and the last meal/2 meals should be snack sized so you don't go to bed on a full stomach

    try and have 4-5 smaller meals a day rather than 2-3 large meals
    +1, except i'm a veg so it means more beans/veggies/etc to get more protein instead of more lean meats.
    but big heads and soft bodies make for lousy lovers...

  15. #15
    POWERCRANK addict markhr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vodalus View Post
    +1, except i'm a veg so it means more beans/veggies/etc to get more protein instead of more lean meats.
    How do you handle that and sports? I've tried being a veggie (no meat, chicken or fish but not vegan) twice and, while I initially lost weight, I didn't recover at all from exercise and ended up tired and sore all the time.
    shameless POWERCRANK plug
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    Quote Originally Posted by markhr View Post
    What works for me:

    lots of carbohydrates (wholewheat preferably), more fresh fruit and vegetables, more protein (fresh meat/chicken, not processed crap)

    more water throughout the day, sip constantly, don't try and drink 10l at once

    avoid salty or sugary processed crap

    have your biggest meal of the day at breakfast time, next biggest at lunch and the last meal/2 meals should be snack sized so you don't go to bed on a full stomach

    try and have 4-5 smaller meals a day rather than 2-3 large meals
    +1

    I eat damn near constantly. (A few coworkers have referred to me as "the bottomless pit". And I weigh 130 lbs at 5'7"...) A steady intake of food is infinitely better for you than a few large meals.

    If all you are eating is cold cereal and a sandwich or two, it's no wonder you are running out of gas. Fruit, vegetables, complex carbs, lean meat/fish, beans/legumes, and plenty of hydration will work wonders for you.

    I can't say that I arrive home chock full of energy. I too commute in 95-100 degrees temps, along with ridiculously high humidity. I typically need a half hour or so to recharge with Gatorade and (yet another) small snack, then lift weights for an hour or so. You will find that a) changing your diet will help, and b) you will get used to it if you push yourself and realize that the human body is capable of a lot more than most people get out of it.

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    Senior Member jterribili's Avatar
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    i eat lots of whole grains (Heritage O's cereal in the morning), fruit and veggies all day long (celery, carrots, peppers, cukes, orange, apple, grapes, blueberries), whole grain english muffin, trailmix with lots of differnet seeds and dried fruit and at least 60oz of water by the time I leave at 5. I never have an issue

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    Senior Member jterribili's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markhr View Post
    How do you handle that and sports? I've tried being a veggie (no meat, chicken or fish but not vegan) twice and, while I initially lost weight, I didn't recover at all from exercise and ended up tired and sore all the time.
    i started as a veggie 10 yrs ago while I was in the Army jumping out of planes, ruck marching 20 miles and running at least 30 miles/wk and I never had an issue as long as I ate right - lots of beans and legumes will take care of ya - oh yeah...and veggies!

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    Glad I found this thread. I'm into my 6th full week of commuting, and 4th full week of going to the gym for a swim along the way. I am famished all day long, and feel like I keep nibbling all the time.

    I typically don't eat before I leave the house, except maybe a banana, but have a decent sized bowl of oatmeal when I finally get to the office. I will add a piece of fruit afterwards, then a lunch which more times than not is nothing but fresh veggies and a (very) small amount of protein, such as salmon, or left over steak or pork chop. I also keep some fresh almonds at the office, a jar of PB and J in the fridge. When my body says it wants something, I obey. I'm no skinny minny. When I started this I was 250 lbs. Haven't noticed much weight loss yet, but I've dropped about 4 inches from my waist, so the nibbling isn't doing me any harm, I guess.

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    Senior Member jterribili's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peabodypride View Post
    Watch out for the cheaper brands that are labeled "healthy" but contain HFCS in them. I know not everyone has a local bakery or bread-maker. It's just a game of eat as few prepackaged foods as you can.
    Whole Foods carries this killer bread product called Food for Life. it is in the frozen section and is usually named with a scripture verse from the bible (Genesis, Ezekiel). Kind of odd names for a loaf of bread, but the stuff rocks. It is made from sprouted whole grains and seeds and they freeze it immediately because the most benefit from grains you receive are when they are used immediately or frozen. they carry loafs of bread, tortilla shells, english muffins - I buy em every week - they are so good and filling!

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    Bananas.

    They'll help tremendously.

    For a real treat, eat a peanut butter and banana sandwhich at lunch. Your muscles will thank you. Use multi-grain bread or something healthy. You get carbs, protein, and pottasium all at once.

    Peanut butter and banana sandwiches. What could be better?
    I'm two-tired to ride today.

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    6 ways each way can be done without eating, at least for me. My vote is on hydration.

  23. #23
    Master of the Universe Angus37's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bwunger View Post
    How's your hydration?
    Not as good as it could be. I do try to drink throughout the day but I should probably drink more. I always make sure my water bottle is full before I leave.

    Quote Originally Posted by bhop View Post
    How long have you been commuting? I was like that at first because my body just wasn't used to it. I'd get home after 13 miles and feel like collapsing, but now, after a few months of doing it, I actually feel pretty good when I get home.
    I've been commuting off and on now for about 2-3 months. I've been fighting a rash of flat tires lately (patch it at night, flat again in the morning, panic, take the car again) so I'm sure the inconsistency hasn't helped me at all. Nice to know that it may just be a phase.

    Quote Originally Posted by vaticdart View Post
    How early/late do you eat lunch? I bike home around 5 and if I only eat a PB&J at around noon, my energy level is noticeably lacking. I generally eat lunch and then eat a PB&J around 3 or 4 in the afternoon; that gives me enough energy to get home comfortably at the pace I like to maintain.
    This could be part of it too. I usually eat lunch about 11:15 or so and leave between 4 and 4:30. Perhaps I need a bigger breakfast so that I can hold out longer before lunch.

    Quote Originally Posted by Navy_Chief View Post
    +1 it sounds like a lack of hydration along with a drop in blood sugar. 6 miles is not really enough to justify sports specific nutrition products but try having a few fig bars or something before the ride and make sure you are drinking plenty of water through the day; hydration is not a race, it is an endurance event (meaning you have to drink through the day not just before the ride).

    Chief
    Agreed on the nutrition products. I don't figure I need to down a Powerbar or anything like that but I've been curious as to what other commuters eat to maintain their energy.

    Quote Originally Posted by peabodypride View Post
    By the way, this is an cycling adage you need to adhere to for endurance: eat before you feel hungry and drink before you feel thirsty.

    More water+small "ride-home" fuel==no worries.
    And there is the question, really: What types of "fuel" work well? It sounds like the best things I can do are:

    -Drink water
    -Eat a bigger breakfast and a later lunch
    -Drink water
    -Eat something not too long before heading home
    -Drink water

    Yes?

    Thanks for all the responses!

  24. #24
    This town needs an enema.
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    I think that eating small snacks in addition to your usual lunch (and don't take one too late) helps out a lot.

    I really had a hard time with exhaustion my first few months of commuting. It would appear that my timing of when I ate was an important factor in addition to what I was putting in my body. I generally eat a snack (peanuts and raisins) within an hour of arriving at work. Also limiting sugars has helped me a lot.

  25. #25
    Senior Member DVC45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angus37 View Post
    When I ride home I feel like I am exhausted. My legs feel wobbly and jello-like and I am wondering if my diet has anything to do with that.

    I eat a bowl of cold cereal for breakfast in the morning and have 1-2 sandwiches for lunch (usually peanut butter or some sort of meat).

    My ride is 6 miles each way so it's not too bad, and while the desert heat (100+ in the afternoon) certainly doesn't help, are there any suggestions as to what I could/should be eating differently to give me more energy on the homebound commute?
    I think the heat is the biggest contributing factor with your exhaustion. Make sure to keep tabs on your fluid intake. I've decided not to cyclocommute during this past weeks due to heat and humidity here in South Texas.
    I felt all the same stuff's you mentioned plus lightheadedness about a month ago. ' got scared big time.
    I'll just resume full time cyclocommuting when the weather gets better.
    Last edited by DVC45; 08-05-08 at 09:07 AM.

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