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Snacks for Cyclists
Nutritionalist Sarah Burkhart shares her views on snacking: I'm often asked about snacks – 'should I eat them?', 'how much is too much?' and 'how do I choose a healthy option?'
I'm also asked whether we should be having lots of small meals throughout the day (snack like meals) or should we just stick to three square meals, and does it impact on our metabolism?
Well, snacking is a personal choice – snacks can help a cyclist get enough total energy in each day (especially during periods of intense training) and they can help delay hunger between meals.
Snacks can also be useful as a pre exercise carbohydrate top up, or as a recovery snack.
However, it is important to distinguish between snacks and treats – many people pick up a chocolate bar, or small pack of chips as a snack not thinking about the performance consequences.
A high fat food generally will not contain the carbohydrates that you need when training, and the extra fat can contribute to weight gain if eaten in excess.
If you need snacks between meals to keep away hunger that is fine (so long as you pick good choices) and having these snacks may help prevent overeating at your next meal (think about those times when you have missed afternoon tea and you end up eating a huge dinner as you were so hungry!).
If you are someone who eats three main meals a day and is happy to stick to that then that is fine too – for some people it can be easy to over graze if you tell yourself that you can snack freely during the day. Over grazing can lead to an over consumption of energy – not good if you are watching your body fat or body weight.
Remembering your portion size is important if you are snacking – especially if you are watching your body composition. Fruit in general is the best choice – it provides carbs, and nutrients and is low in total kilojoules.
If you are considering your weight this can be a good option, but if you are training hard and need the extra energy you might find that you need a more substantial snack like a baked potato, or toasted sandwich with creamed corn, baked beans or spaghetti. Eat to your appetite.
Good snack options for athletes include:
About Sarah Burkhart....
Sarah is a Sports Nutritionist who is known for her practical and realistic approach to improving performance and getting results with athletes from recreational to elite international level. She has a BSc majoring in Human Nutrition and Physiology, and has just completed a MSc in Human Nutrition.
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