I had a chat with Irish Road race champion Damien Shaw this week and was delighted to discover that we were very similar. Well to be honest it was just that we had a very similar view on nutrition. It’s just a pity there is such a difference in engine size. I’m like a 1 litre Nissan Micra, Shaw is like the 3.8 litre Porsche 911. Despite the difference in capacity the most important take away for me was that we both strongly agreed that if we were going to fall of the wagon and eat sugar or rubbish that it should be cake and not energy bars. Read on for more cake wisdom..
Despite the fact that we sell them in the shop I’m not a big fan of energy foods, bars or gels. People are often very surprised when my nutrition advice for training is eat bananas and drink water and Damien said the same. He would much rather have a desert after dinner instead of energy bars on the bike. Damien is happier with a handful of dried dates, figs or apricots mixed with almonds in his jersey pocket instead of bars and likes to save the sugar for a post dinner treat. When it actually feels like a treat.
Ais has a very similar view when it comes to soft drinks. She is of the opinion that if she is going to take on extra calories it should be in the form of food, preferably cake or Icecream. A portion of Banoffee has approx 395 calories vs a 500ml bottle of Coke coming in at 210g. I know which I’d rather have if I’m going to fall off the wagon and land in sugar.
Drinks are the same. Most people don’t equate drinks with calories in the same way they do with food. On the other hand no one thinks Banoffee is a healthy option and as a result we all exercise some self restraint. I usually only have 2 or three helpings at a time….I said some restraint I didn’t say I was a saint.
The problem in my mind with energy foods or soft drinks is the perception that people have of them. Energy food is usually thought of as being a sports aid so is perceived as being a healthy option, they’re not. They’re just sugar. For training rides of 2 hours or less all that anyone should be taking on is water. And for longer rides I’d subscribe to Damiens advice of eating dried fruit and nuts. And as for recovery shakes and bars I think it’s much better to eat real food. Protein, healthy fats and carbs from veg, fruit or potatoes will aid recovery much better than a bunch of chemicals in a tub.
I have written a report based on interviews with 6 of the most successful Ironman triathletes in Ireland with over 80 Ironman, several Irish records and titles and an incredible 29 Kona qualifications between them. You can check it out here
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