Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Nutrition: Ride Hard, Recover Well, Ride Harder

Ride hard. Recover well. Then, you'll be able to ride harder the next time...

In order to do all three of these things though, you'll need to get your nutrition right. That involves taking on essential fast-release energy during your ride, and repairing your muscles with much needed protein once you've finished.

Many of my snacks and (what I would label) "instant nutrition" for these two objectives, come from the well reputed MaxiNutrition brand. I thought I would share my favourites...

MaxiNutrition ViperBoost Gels - 'The Kick'

Energy gels are so developed now, and so effective, that I don't take much else in the way of food when I'm racing. Anything shorter than three hours, and I find these little sugar rushes are the easiest and fastest acting form of energy.

The ViperBoost gels are some of the best I've tested (and I've tested a few!). They're effective, they're a good size, they taste great and they're easy on the stomach.

Packing 25 grams of carbohydrate and a small amount of sodium to help ward off cramps; for me, these are the optimal size energy gel. You can get away with taking one or two an hour when used in conjunction with energy drink, which means you don't need to develop the sticky-mouth syndrome that comes with trying to take onboard more than that over a prolonged period.

A great taste, a great kick; a great fuel for high intensity exercise.

MaxiNutrition ProMax Shake - 'Recover Right' 

Post ride shakes aren't something that have to be guzzled down as quickly as possible because they taste like powdered milk. It's possible to make super tasty ones too, which will help you to recover, and be enjoyable to drink, too.

The MaxiNutrition ProMax protein powder packs a serious 30 grams of high quality whey protein in each serving, and also contains BCAAs, Glutamine, Magnesium and Calcium to get your muscle and bone repair quickly on track.

Mix ProMax chocolate up like this, and you'll also have 'probably the best tasting protein shake in the world':
  • Add a banana, 1.5 scoops of ProMax, and two tablespoons of Drinking Oats to a Nutribullet.
  • Top-up to the max line, with milk or almond milk.
  • Blitz for 30 seconds
  • Enjoy!

MaxiNutrition Protein Snack Bars

There's no point in having healthy meals and good on-the-bike nutrition, if in-between times you fill yourself with unhealthy junk. Having a healthy snack bar is a good place to start.

The MaxiNutrition Protein bars are a compact and protein packed bar, which also satisfy that chocolate craving! They contain 10 grams of protein per bar, and are only 159 calories. 

Great for recovery and quite possibly the best tasting protein bar I've had (I think the slim caramel layer is the gold lining!). These will fill a hole, and help to repair those tired muscles; all whilst you sit at your desk having your morning coffee.

Three products, three purposes. Whether you need to fuel up, recover or banish those snack cravings, these are three nutrition additions I'd recommend.

Shop the MaxiNutrition range at shop.maxinutrition.com (Link)

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Racing: South Region Road Race Champs - Mojo Restored

I hadn't really been enjoying racing this last week. Last Sunday, I rode at the Southern XC South Champs, and only managed a rather poor 8th in the Sport category. Then on Thursday, at the Ryde Town Criterium race (before the Tour Series event), I was dropped from the lead group and only took 13th. In both cases, a lack of explosive power, and slightly timid bike handling, were my main downfalls. With the Island Games approaching fast, I wasn't looking in great shape with just a month and a bit to go...

Today, I headed to the same Owslebury course that was used for the James Atherton Road Race, and signed on against some big names for the South Region Road Race Champs. I went with the (perhaps slightly pessimistic) view that I would be doing well if I even managed to finish. Luckily, I managed that.

Unlike at the James Atherton day, the weather today was not a gale force nine and driving rain; rather, sunshine and a light breeze were a welcome set of conditions. The course remained just as tough though, with almost no flats and some technical corners. 

The race went off quite hard, and at 84 miles long, it was going to be a long way to sit at close to the red zone. Luckily, after a few laps a break went, and things lulled a bit. Eventually, our chasing group got things together and reeled back in the break; or at least we thought we had, it turned out four more were still up the road. 

The pace remained high, but the group of four stayed away. In addition, riders were going off the front and forming a smaller group up the road. On the final lap, I decided to make a last ditch attempt at bridging across to that group (I'm no sprinter, so there wasn't much point waiting for the bunch gallop). With the help of another rider, we made the junction, and I crossed the line 10th.

That might not sound exceptional, but it was a good result for me; given I was questioning whether I'd even get round, earlier in the day.

The result was what I needed; a bit of a confidence booster. Enough to suggest that I might not be a lost cause for the Island Games, and I might actually be able to get a result. Here's to hoping things are back on track. Bike racing mojo restored. 

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Guest Review: Rude Health 'The Peanut' and 'The Beetroot'

Suz is a colleague of mine, and a keen 'natural nutrition advocate' too. I passed a few Rude Health bars her way to test out...


Rude Health is known for creating virtuous, healthier-than-healthy cereals and snacks. Their approach is nothing artificial and nothing refined. Just pure, wholesome goodness! I was lucky enough to be given the chance to try out two of their snack bars: The Beetroot and The Peanut.

Here’s how I got on...

The Beetroot Bar

The Beetroot Bar is literally just beetroot, dates, nuts, seeds and a weeny bit of oil. My first impression was that it looked and felt like a Nakd Bar – nice and dense, yet fudgy in texture. Thanks to the beetroot, it’s also got a curious pink hue. Beetroot can be bitter unless it’s mixed with something else so I wasn’t sure what to expect!

The addition of dates to the mixture made sure that it was love at first bite! There was a slight earthy aftertaste but it was needed to offset the sweetness of the dates. The texture was smoother than Nakd Bars – probably because Rude Health used ground almonds, rather than whole.

They’re low in calories (118 kcal per bar) so don’t expect them to fill you up for a long time, but they certainly fill a small gap before lunch. It’s worth noting that the Beetroot Bar is also wheat free, gluten free and dairy free – making it a rare snack that’s perfect if you’re vegan, vegetarian or coeliac.

The Peanut Bar

The Peanut Bar is just peanuts, dates, seeds, a dash of date syrup, a pinch of salt and a tiddly bit of oil. It wasn’t as smooth as The Beetroot Bar – this one can best be described as a hybrid of a Nakd Bar (in texture) and a 9 Bar (in flavour).

As soon as you sink your teeth into it, you get a satisfying bit of crunch. There’s enough for it to have a bit of substance, but not enough to give your jaw a workout. Perfection. Then the sweetness from the dates and date syrup gives an instant energy lift – handy for the 4pm lull.

As with The Beetroot bar, The Peanut bar doesn’t have that many calories (147 kcal per bar) so they aren’t something to use as a meal substitute, but they will stop you raiding the biscuit tin. For me, their small size is actually good - bear with me… I’m a big fan of 9 Bars but they’re pretty energy dense, so I end up chopping them up to make them snack-worthy. The Peanut Bar means that my days of hacking neatly-wrapped 9 Bars into smithereens, are over!

As an extra bonus, make sure that you read the wrapper. As a bit of extra feel good factor, the chaps and chapesses at Rude Health have put in some cheeky little comments, such as “don’t forget to also eat proper meals” and “eat right, stay brilliant”.

In a (pea)nut shell – it’s absolutely delicious.

Thanks Suz! Read more on Rude Health