Thursday, November 12, 2009

The 9 Best Energy Boosters

Everyone has to eat—food is the only source of fuel your body has. But, not every food is equal in providing energy.

Sluggishness is caused by all sorts of factors, but poor nutrition is major. However, if you balance your daily diet correctly, the resulting energy boost will be readily apparent. Vanessa Provins, a registered dietitian at Porter Hospital in Valparaiso, Ind., had some advice on how to keep going throughout the day. “Everyone is going to need different levels of nutrients and calories depending on how active they are,” she says. A teenager playing soccer is going to need a much higher level of calories in order to keep energized than a white-collar office worker who will spend most of the day sitting at a desk. But Provins suggests the best way to sustain a high level of energy throughout the day is by maintaining a steady level of blood sugar. One easy way to keep your glucose level steady is sticking with regular meal and snack times.

Provins offers additional recommendations for getting the most energy out of your diet:

• Breakfast is an especially important meal. It’s one of the easiest and most common meals to skip—but it breaks the overnight fasting period (hence “break-fast”) to replenish your glucose supply. When you wake up, your body has likely gone as long as 12 hours without food, and skipping breakfast will keep your body in a reduced metabolism mode to conserve energy.

• Snacks are also a great way to refuel your body. They get a bad rap sometimes, but as long as they’re not full of empty calories they can be the difference between remaining alert or nodding off throughout the day.

• “Get five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day,” Provins says. Yes, this advice is everywhere, but it’s honestly the easiest way to eat healthier. Forget about fancy diets, just eat more fruits and vegetables—that’s it. The more colorful and varied the vegetables, the better. Often, differently hued fruits and veggies offer particular nutrient combinations.

• Unsaturated fats are better than saturated—it’s easy to tell the difference because saturated fats are solid at room temperature while unsaturated fats are liquid. Try olive oil—or better yet, sunflower or sesame oil—instead of butter. Avocados are another superb choice.

• Lean meat is an important part of diet, but should be limited: “Six to seven ounces or less per day,” Provins says.

• Eat more whole grains. Oatmeal is a perfect example—oats are low on the glycemic index, which means energy is released more steadily throughout the day rather than a quick and short-lived rush. She recommends whole grain pastas and brown rice for meals, and popcorn for a good whole grain snack.

• Legumes go hand-in-hand with grains. Beans, peanuts, peas. They provide fiber, are good sources of protein and stabilize blood sugar. Peanut butter on wheat bread is a great combination. Try some raisins or chocolate chips in the middle for a sweet treat.

• Fatigue is one of the first signs of dehydration. You don’t need eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, but you do need to make sure you’re getting enough fluids.

• Stay away from so-called energy drinks. They’re simply not necessary if you’re getting proper mealtime nutrition, and they’re filled with empty calories that give you a quick but short-lived jump in energy, leading to a crash.

Basic Nutrition for Better Bike Riding

Eat Right - Fuel the Machine!

Eat Right - Fuel the Machine!One of the best things about riding your bike is that you get a free pass to eat what you want, right? Well, sort of. You can definitely consume more calories, but the right eating plan will give you energy, help you feel better, fuel your body more efficiently and help you lose weight, if that is your goal.

The best eating plan for a cyclist is one that includes plenty of low fat, high carbohydrate foods to provide energy and fluids to offer hydration. While ‘carb’ is a four letter word to many dieters, they are certainly not the diet-wrecking evil food that some people might lead you to believe. Carbs are your body’s preferred source of energy for cycling. Since you are constantly burning carbs to fuel your cycling as well as daily activities, you must regularly replace them with a high carbohydrate diet.

The kind of carbs that give all carbs a bad reputation are those made with simple sugars and refined flours. These offer little nutritional value. Get your fill of carbohydrates through fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grain breads, rice and pasta. Round out your diet with lean protein and a small amount of fat.

When you eat is almost as important as what you eat. About an hour before a ride, fuel up with a high carbohydrate snack or small meal. Some ideas might be fresh fruit and whole grain toast or a half whole wheat bagel with peanut butter.

If your ride is longer than 60 minutes, you’ll need to refuel with more carbs. Researchers recommend about 30 to 40 grams of carbohydrate each 30 minutes you ride beyond the first 60 minutes. This might be a good time to consider a sports drink or energy bar. Eating a high carb snack or meal within 60 minutes after a lengthy ride is important to replenish your body and prepare you for your next ride.

Cyclists must make a conscious effort to drink fluids before, during and after riding to stay hydrated. Becoming dehydrated is one of the worst things that can happen to you and so it is important to be proactive and push lots of fluids, even before you feel thirsty. You'll want to drink at least 8 - 12 ounces of fluid immediately before a ride, another 8 ounces every half hour during a ride, and enough when you're finished to gradually replenish those lost fluids after a ride.

Building Your Stamina

Dave Levy, BS '78, shares tips he learned during his 2001 cross-country bicycle trip.

Do you ever feel too tired to exercise? Does the thought of paying big-time bucks for a personal trainer make you weak in the knees? Have you hit a plateau in your exercise routine or run out of ideas to rev up your workout?

Cross-country cyclist Dave Levy, BS '78, has some expertise in perseverance and stamina on the exercise front. In 2001, Levy cycled cross-country, averaging 83 miles on each of the 45 days he rode during the 50-day trip. His adventure began at the water's edge of the Pacific Ocean in Astoria, Ore., and ended 3,752 miles later at the Atlantic Ocean in Portsmouth, N.H.

But the ride was no cakewalk for Levy. Because he knew the journey would be physically and mentally challenging, Levy prepared months in advance to increase his endurance. He offers the following tips for anyone looking to increase exercise stamina.
Think mind over matter

Mentally envisioning the end result is the best way to overcome physical challenges, Levy says. Instead of thinking, "How am I going to make it up this hill?" concentrate on the overall accomplishment: "I've ridden 100 miles today." With the right training, your mind will adapt to the physical challenge.

"The enormous mountain in front of you isn't going away," Levy says. "Just think of how proud you will be when you complete your ride."

For Levy, there wasn't a day that he didn't want to hop on his bike. Levy recalls a stage in the trip when he rode for 95 miles in a 25 mph wind through North Dakota.

"Those are the days I will always remember and remain proud of," Levy says.

Pick something you love

Not everyone enjoys cycling, but we all have different passions. Levy says to find something that you absolutely love and have fun with it.

"Pure dedication isn't going to get you out of bed at 6 a.m. every morning," Levy says. "You've got to love it 100 percent."

Play with others

"One of the most effective ways to build stamina and add some spice to your exercise routine is to work out with a team," Levy says.

As a way to prepare for the cross-country trip, Levy and his wife, Cathy, rode with 11 other riders at least once a week. The riders encouraged each other and set goals to remain motivated.

Don't ever stop

Levy cycles year-round and never gets out of shape. When the weather is bad, Levy rides indoors.

"It's hard to get your endurance level back to where it used to be once you stop riding," Levy says. "It's best to stay in shape."

Take care of your body

Levy says a proper diet is key to having more energy. He recommends a balanced diet and also suggests taking snacks with you for the ride.

"By snacking on energy bars or fruit while you are riding, you will be able to keep your metabolism up," Levy says.

According to Levy, it's best to get at least eight hours of sleep every night. Also, it's important to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water before and after you ride.

Make it personal

Levy says this is what makes the process different for everyone. You can increase your stamina by incorporating something that is meaningful to you on your ride. Before Levy went on his cross-country trip, his cycling friends from his college days gave him an Ohio University "good luck" cycling jersey to wear on his ride.

"The jersey was not only a great way to show my pride for OU, but it was a symbol of all the hard work that I'm proud of," Levy says.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How to Build Cycling Stamina

Cycling is a sport that generates strength and endurance. Depending on the terrain, the speed and the level of difficulty, it can be a workout that significantly challenges your body and builds stamina.

Stamina is different than endurance or speed. Endurance refers to the amount of time you can continue to exercise. Speed refers to the amount of distance you can cover in a certain period of time. Stamina refers to how well you can sustain your effort. For example, starting a bike ride at 20 mph and then dropping to 17 mph after the first two miles would indicate a lack of stamina.

Step 1

Build your base. Before beginning training, you must have a base of cardiovascular and muscular strength and endurance. This means at least six months of easy cycling three to four times a week. Your body needs time to adapt, otherwise you risk injury to your joints, muscles and tendons.

Build your base gradually. Your training should never increase more than 10 percent each week. Also, take at least one rest day each week so your muscles have adequate time to recover and get stronger from the stress of training.

Step 2

Incorporate specific cycling workouts into your schedule. This is the time to work on speed and stamina. Your cycling workouts should vary each day.

Once a week, complete an intense speed workout where the focus is on short sprints repeated during the middle portion of the ride. Be sure you are warmed up properly and then pedal as fast as possible for one- to three-minute intervals. When rating the level of difficulty, this workout should feel like an 8 or 9 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Step 3

Perform a tempo workout one day a week. This is where your average speed is at a faster, sustained pace, yet not as fast as a sprint. Some athletes refer to this as "race pace." The goal is to sustain a comfortably hard pace for several miles at a time. Your level of difficulty should feel like a 7 to 8 here.

Step 4

Complete one long ride a week. One of the best ways to build stamina is to increase your miles once a week. This should be a longer distance and slower pace than your other rides, but not greater than 10 percent of what you did the week before. The goal is to build endurance and condition your muscles to stay on the bike for a longer period of time. Your level of difficulty should feel like a 6 to 7 while you try to maintain a consistent speed throughout the workout.

Step 5

Consume proper fuel and nutrition during your workout. Aside from training properly, the other key to maintaining stamina during cycling is to hydrate enough and take in enough calories. Even though you may not feel as hot when riding a bike, proper hydration with water or sports drinks will help you function at a high level. For longer rides, consume enough calories to sustain your energy. Sports gels and nutrition bars are popular choices.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


As a cycling enthusiast, all this while I have been a mountain biker with great passion into riding in the forest and also regular ride 3 days a week in the city or going outskirts with mountain bikes either on hardtail or softail. Came into my mind of riding a roadbike. How does it feel? With the speed and lightweight, it has a specialty of it's own. I'm going to get one of this bike as part of my collection of few.