Friday, June 22, 2012

Adventure Fridays: Experimenting with food

When eating for your adventures, experimentation is key. Everyone experiences different cravings — sweet treat or salty snack; cold drink or hot meal —as well as different levels of hunger. 

Lately, I've been experimenting with the amount of food I need to pack for a bicycle commute. Packing my own lunches and snacks is healthy, cheap, fun, and a lot easier than running out of the office every other hour to buy a granola bar. 

Planning your meals for a bicycle commute depends on the length of your commute and your body type. A relaxed 15-minute commute may not require a significant change in eating habits, but a fast-paced 45-minute commute may leave you feeling ravenous. While I am a fan of using instinct to tune into your body's needs, a basic calorie counter can help you identify your target range for losing, maintaining, or gaining weight while cycling.

The food I eat changes with the weather and seasons (lighter meals during a heat wave and more oatmeal on cold mornings), but I think I've nailed down a basic pattern that works for me.

  • Before hopping on the bike, I eat a small bowl of oatmeal with honey and ground flaxseed, or homemade granola with plain yogurt.
  • I drink water with breakfast, and water on my ride.
  • Within 30 minutes of getting off my bike, I follow up with a snack: banana with peanut butter, or a hardboiled egg and a slice of toast with honey. Don't forget coffee! 
  • For lunch, I bring a home-cooked meal to reheat in the office microwave. Hearty fibers and proteins keep me full. I drink water instead of soda or juice.
  • To stave off my inevitable afternoon craving for chocolate, I finish off my lunch with sweet fruit like grapes or homemade applesauce. Or, I go straight for the chocolate.
  • Later in the afternoon, I munch on homemade popcorn—not from a buttery microwave bag, but popped on the stovetop with some olive oil and sea salt.
  • I always pack an emergency granola bar or energy gel for my ride home, just in case my body can't wait until dinner. 
  • I'm still drinking water. Really, the only beverages I consume are water, coffee, and the occasional beer. 

What foods do you eat to fuel your outdoor fun? What's your favorite meal of the day?

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