Episode 46 - Real food ideas for on the bike

Real food ideas for on the bike

​​Are you sick of sucking back gels and sports drink all the time?

Are you looking for more real food options to use during exercise?

Over the years, I’ve definitely seen a movement away from commercial sports nutrition products to more real foods on the bike. But what types of foods are going to help your performance? 

In this episode I walk you through:

  • When is the best time to use real foods in training?
  • What types of real foods are good for on the bike?
  • What types of foods should you avoid on the bike?
  • Where to find recipes to make your own bike fuel



Get your copy of my Fuel Your Adventure recipe book which includes evidenced-based, real food ideas that give you a good hit of carbohydrates, electrolytes and even protein. These recipes still provide enough fuel for what you need but the advantage of lots of other nutrients as well. I’ve even included some savoury options for those who just can’t stomach any more sweets.

Receive 15% discount on the Mingle range of "no hidden nasties" seasonings, sauces and meal base packets - Code: DIETITIANAPPROVED15

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Episode Transcription

Episode 46 - Real food ideas for on the bike

Taryn Richardson  00:00
Welcome to the Triathlon Nutrition Academy podcast, the show designed to serve you up evidence-based sports nutrition advice from the experts. Hi, I'm your host Taryn, Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Advanced Sports Dietitian, and founder of Dietitian Approved. Listen as I break down the latest evidence to give you practical, easy to digest strategies to train hard, recover faster and perform at your best. You have so much potential, and I want to help you unlock that with the power of nutrition. Let's get into it. 

Taryn Richardson  00:36
Hey, hey, how are you? We just had Cairns Ironman and 70.3 on the weekend just gone and it was massive. We had so many athletes racing, and everyone did so well. I'm so proud of them. Quick shout out to Ryan, who did his first-ever Ironman and smashed it in a time of 9:29. How crazy is that? He is on his way to Kona later this year. Also, shout out to Kent Rowe and Peter Peckett. Both Triathlon Nutrition Academy athletes who did the 70.3 and had not-so-ideal lead-ins, but still managed to have a really successful day in the office. So well done, lads.

Taryn Richardson  01:21
Now before we get into today's episode, I just wanted to say thank you so much to the people that wrote a podcast review. I want to read a couple out to you and give you a bit of a shout-out just to say thank you and let you know that I do read them all and I really appreciate you taking a couple of minutes to write something for me - so I know who you are and where you're listening from and what it is that you want me to talk about.

Taryn Richardson  01:43
So shout out to Cheery who I assume is Lisa Cheer, one of the Academy athletes and she wrote "Best no BS approach. Absolutely love listening to Taryn's no BS approach to feeling our bodies for day-to-day living, and adding the crazy sport of triathlon. So many great tips to get us to the magic feeling of the red carpet feeling our absolute best." So thank you so much, Lisa.

Taryn Richardson  02:05
And from Macca "Love this podcast. Easy and accurate information to inform triathletes about the fourth leg of triathlon. Taryn is passionate, educated and shares information in a way that is easy to understand and implement in our busy triathlete lives!!"  Amen, Macca.

Taryn Richardson  02:36
Also quickly, just before we get into today's episode, I wanted to let you know that Coffee and Questions is coming back. Now, if you don't know what that is, and you haven't been following me for a while, Coffee and Questions is where I jump on live and answer any sports nutrition-related questions you have. So I'm bringing it back. I did it weekly in 2020-2021 and absolutely got burnt out. So what I'm going to do this time is go live on the first Thursday of every month at 8:30am, Brisbane, Australia time. And I'm going to do that inside the Dietitian Approved Crew Facebook Group.

Taryn Richardson  02:46
And the last one from BrLoEd, whoever you are - shout out - thank you so much. "Great, quick, quality advice, really easy to listen to. Nice bite-sized pieces of quality info". So thank you so much.

Taryn Richardson  03:16
So if you're not inside there, I'll pop a link in the show notes for you or you can search on Facebook groups for Dietitian Approved Crew. That is the only place I'm going to go live. I'm not going live on Instagram, I'm not going live on the Dietitian Approved Facebook page. It is only for the legends that are inside that crew. And in there, I'll go live for 30 minutes on the first Thursday of every single month and answer whatever it is you need answered.

Taryn Richardson  03:16
Now a little bit of a disclaimer. It's not individual advice. And I would really encourage you to book in for consultations if there is something really personal or medical that you need sorted. But it's your chance to pick an advanced Sports Dietitian's brain. Ask me anything, get yourself unstuck. So make sure you jump in there if you're not in there yet, Dietitian Approved Crew on Facebook. And I'll go live on the 7th of July at 8:30am Brisbane time. And having a look at the calendar that's International Chocolate Day. so, maybe, that's a good time to start! All right, let's get into today's episode.

Taryn Richardson  04:16
Today, I wanted to talk you through some real food options to have on the bike. Now I've definitely seen a shift away from commercial sports nutrition products in the years to more real food options. But what I would suggest is you play around with things because you don't have to have the same strategy year in, year out. I would encourage you to be using whatever your race nutrition is in the lead-up to a key event.

Taryn Richardson  04:41
But in the off-season, that's your perfect opportunity to look at more real foods. It can be cheaper that way. And you can also get more nutrients into the body by having real foods. Things that sports supplements like gels and sports drinks just don't even offer. And because I saw this real shift over the last sort of 5 years, I created a little recipe book called the Fuel Your Adventure book to help you kind of get started with some of these things.

Taryn Richardson  05:07
I'm going to talk you through some of the recipes that are inside that today. Plus also give you a whole range of other things to try. If you do want to check out The Fuel Your Adventure book, go to dietitianapproved.com/fuelyouradventure and I'll pop the link in the show notes for that as well.

Taryn Richardson  05:24
So when it comes to real food, it can be your opportunity to have sweet, but it can also be a really good opportunity to have some savoury. When it comes to commercial sports nutrition products, everything is sweet, right? Most gels are sweet, sports drinks are sweet, bars are sweet, chews and blocks and chomps and stuff are sweet, lollies are sweet, everything is sweet. So real foods can be a really good way to get some savoury in the mix. Now if you're doing short course and have a sweet tooth, you may not have even thought about putting savoury in. But if you're doing more longer course stuff and get flavour fatigue and get very over sweet constantly for say 70.3 and Ironman distance training and racing, then this can be the time to look at implementing some savoury things.

Taryn Richardson  06:14
So inside The Fuel Your Adventure book I give you the recipe for my secret stack. We're going to tell you what that is - it is definitely becoming less and less secret over the years, as it infiltrates tri squads all over the world. But that is definitely a good savoury thing that you can look at introducing - that is good fuelling, is easy to digest and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. And it's pretty easy to kind of prep at four o'clock in the morning, or you can do the night before as well.

Taryn Richardson  06:42
The other thing you might want to play around with for savoury is a mashed potato gel. Now I have heard so many stories of people taking whole roasted potatoes with salt on them on the bike in a long course racing, which is just silly. Now, that's my opinion, if you love potatoes, and they work for you, stick with it. But there's a better way to get more fuel in than taking a whole potato with you.

Taryn Richardson  07:08
And that's by using some instant mashed potato powder. But what you want to do is use that and pump it with some extra carbs using some maltodextrin powder. And then you can flavour it with things like stock or Vegemite or whatever sort of flavour things you want to do. But that is a really good savoury option that you can play with. And there's a recipe for that in The Fuel Your Adventure book because the hard part with that is the texture and getting that consistency right. Because if you don't get that right, however, you're carrying it, it's going to get stuck in the container and you're not going to be able to get it out. 

Taryn Richardson  07:42
The other thing that you might want to play around with is making some homemade rice cakes with real rice and cream cheese to set it. Sounds weird, but it's not particularly sweet. And that helps it to hold together really firmly. And then there are plenty of flavour options too, that you can flavour that with. So there are a couple ideas for savoury. If you are really over-sweet and looking to shake up your plan, then definitely look at implementing something like that because you don't have to suffer through flavour fatigue and sweet overload all the time, we can easily fix that. It's just about understanding what you need to do to overcome that.

Taryn Richardson  08:21
Have you noticed that a lot of gels and sports drinks are creating products that are very low flavour profile, or trying to take flavour out altogether? And that is definitely because people are over-sweet. So that might be something you want to have a look at too. If you get flavour fatigue is looking and playing around with different products to change and shake up the flavours so you're not having to deal with the same thing constantly.

Taryn Richardson  08:47
The other thing I get people to play around with is all of the energy balls inside The Fuel Your Adventure book. I've got so many different flavours depending on what you like. And I definitely encourage you to try a couple of different things or even use a couple of different things in your plan - again so you don't get flavour fatigue. But they are really nice little tiny balls that are packed full of fuelling and energy and give you some nutrients as well because they're whole foods so we're getting some healthy fats. We're getting a little bit of protein so we don't eat away at our muscles during long rides.

Taryn Richardson  09:21
And there's even some ginger flavours in there as well because ginger is a really nice palate cleanser. So again, if you're getting a Mankey mouth and over-sweet and sick of commercial products, then implement something with ginger in it. If you like it or even if you don't like it still try it because ginger is a definite palate cleanser and you will notice a difference even after just having a little bit. So there's some ginger-flavoured balls. There's some choc mint flavour balls. There's lemon, there's apricot, there's banana peanut butter (yum) chocolate and mocha as well to get a bit of a caffeine hit. So energy balls could be a really good thing to have on long rides in the offseason.

Taryn Richardson  10:00
You can race in them too. I have a lot of mountain bikers use these recipes for longer course mountain biking like the 24-hour events - because you can't just drink gels and sports drinks for 24 hours! That would suck! But it can form part of your plan. So you're having some of the commercial products as well as having some real food options too.

Taryn Richardson  10:19
The other thing that I have in the recipe book is a whole lot of bars. Now you can buy your own muesli bars, whatever you like, take them out with you. They're easy, they're convenient, they're portable. They're around sort of 15 - 20g of carbohydrate per muesli bar. Unless we're looking at something like say a Clif Bar or Winners bar - they can be more like 30 - 40g of carbs per bar, but they're much bigger. Or Carmen's bars do the big bars that you can get sometimes in the supermarket or from somewhere like a petrol station or a servo too. That could be another option.

Taryn Richardson  10:53
Or make your own. You can get my free bike bars recipe on the website. If you go to dietitianapproved.com/recipes, download the free recipes there. And you can get my bike bars recipe in that. That's a great one to make a big batch of and keeps well in your back pocket - it's not going to crumble and fall apart. And what I like about this recipe is it has got a bit of protein in it to stop you from eating away your muscles. And it's got some healthy anti-inflammatory fats as well and it's real food. If you are somebody that gets hungry when you're out exercising, then chewing something can really help combat that. So whether you're making your own bars or buying some that could be a good addition to your plan in the off-season. So that you're ticking some other nutrient boxes, as well as doing a good job of your fuelling.

Taryn Richardson  11:42
There are so many different varieties of things in the supermarket these days. All you have to do is go and walk down the muesli bar aisle or go to the little health food section and have a look at what's available. I would encourage you to choose something that's got carbohydrate in it - not just a pure protein bar. Because if we're out exercising, carbohydrate is probably one of the main sources of fuel unless we're walking. So don't just focus on a protein bar, try and choose something that's got carbohydrate in it as well.

Taryn Richardson  12:13
And while you're in the supermarket, have a look at some other things that could be good on the bike. I did a little reel on Instagram a few weeks ago now, that showed you a couple of choices from the Australian supermarkets here. So you can find that @dietitian.approved on Instagram. But let me run you through a couple of things that, off the top of my head, you can have a look for.

Taryn Richardson  12:32
So things like waffles in the international section that look kind of like those stroopwafels. GU do stroopwafels. You can buy genuine, legit ones that aren't a commercial product in the international section of the supermarket here in Australia, or they might be stock standard in your supermarket wherever you live. You could look at bread and sandwiches, rice cakes, crackers, gingernut biscuits, barbecue shapes, pretzels, crisps, fruits like bananas, transport well.

Taryn Richardson  13:04
Those big sucker Medjool dates - they are about 15g of carbohydrate per date and are really easy to carry, really easy to eat, and can be a good addition to your plan - if you're not intolerant to too much dates. Be careful with too much fruit though. It can kind of ruin your guts if you have a sensitive gut. But they can be a good addition to your plan. Or dried apricot, or figs or anything like that.

Taryn Richardson  13:29
Think of the bike as a rolling buffet remember. If you've got a little bento box on your top tube, that can be a great place to put a huge variety of things. To muck around and play with it in your off-season. You might also want to play around with making your own sports drink. I have a few clients that don't want to use any commercial products whatsoever.

Taryn Richardson  13:49
So in The Fuel Your Adventure book, there is a recipe for one homemade sports drink option. But there are plenty of ways to skin a cat. If that's you, and you've been avoiding sports drinks for that reason, then you can look at making your own. You just need to know the types of sugars to put in there and the right ratios and then playing around with the flavour. You could also make your own gels too, while we're on that. It's not difficult. But you do need to understand the types of sugars that you're using, and how much you need and getting the ratios right for maximum digestion. Because if you get that wrong, you can more likely risk gut upset, which I definitely don't recommend.

Taryn Richardson  14:29
So some things that I wouldn't recommend you have on the bike then - if we're talking about real food options. Everything that I've just listed is carbohydrates, right? It could be combinations of some other macronutrients like proteins and fats. But predominantly we want to focus on carbohydrate if we're fueling during exercise - unless you're fat-adapted, but we're not going down that rabbit hole today.

Taryn Richardson  14:52
So think carbohydrate foods.  So things that you wouldn't have on the bike if we're talking real food then would be very protein-rich foods - so things like meat and boiled eggs. I have seen people use biltong, you could have a little bit of that for just a bit of savoury, a little bit of protein to make sure you're not eating away at your muscles. But I wouldn't be relying on using that as a sole source of fuelling because it doesn't have much carbohydrate, if any.

Taryn Richardson  15:21
I also wouldn't be focusing on putting a whole heap of fat into your fuelling, unless you're fat adapted. But if you're a carb-fueled athlete, then we don't want to be doing things like avocado or nut seed bars. We want oat-based muesli bars, not nut bars. I wouldn't do things like tinned salmon or tinned tuna or smoked salmon either or cheese or cottage cheese or cream cheese, things like that as the sole source of your fueling, or a big component of your fuelling.

Taryn Richardson  15:51
All of those things, both protein and fat are going to slow down the digestion of food in your stomach. So if you're exercising, we don't necessarily want to be doing that. We want to make sure that things are working properly. So carbohydrate foods are your focus. And if we're using more real foods, then they're likely to have a bit of protein and a little bit of fat in them anyway. We don't need to be focusing on putting those other things in. So if you're in your off-season, or you've just started your off-season, I want you to start to think about your fuelling on the bike a little bit differently. You don't have to keep up the same pace with fueling and the types of foods that you use during your race prep.

Taryn Richardson  16:30
Off-season is a perfect time to start playing around with different things and tweaking your strategies because your race nutrition plan is going to evolve over time anyway. It's never going to be the same. And I always tell that to clients when I write their race nutrition plans - like this is your plan for this race, right now. As you get fitter, you get faster, your gut gets used to having food in it during exercise, then things can change. You're not stuck and fixed with that same plan forever. Ideally, you want to tweak and evolve and develop it over time, rather than just sticking to the same thing.

Taryn Richardson  17:09
If you want to get your hands on The Fuel Your Adventure book, head to dietitianapproved.com/fuelyouradventure. If you're in Australia, all of the postage is included there in the price. If you are overseas, just get in touch with us because the postage is different, if we're posting outside of Australia. It is a little physical book too, so you can pop it in your kitchen. Have a flick through it while you're sitting on the wind trainer. And it's a great place to start if you're thinking about using some real food options on the bike.

Taryn Richardson  17:38
And don't forget if you're not inside the Dietitian Approved Crew Facebook Group yet, click on the link in the show notes here or search for it in Facebook and come and join us for Coffee and Questions. So 7th of July, 8:30am, Brisbane time and come and pick an Advanced Sports Dietitian's brain. I'll see you there

Taryn Richardson  19:03
Thanks for joining me for this episode of the Triathlon Nutrition Academy podcast. I would love to hear from you. If you have any questions or want to share with me what you've learned. Email me at [email protected]. You could also spread the word by leaving me a review and taking a screenshot of you listening to the show. Don't forget to tag me on social media at @dietitian.approved so I can give you a shout out too. If you want to learn more about what we do, head to dietitianapproved.com. And if you want to learn more about the Triathlon Nutrition Academy program, head to dietitianapproved.com/academy. Thanks for joining me and I look forward to helping you smash it in the fourth leg - nutrition!

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