Gas Station Fuel Up
By Lori Nedescu
Most of us do not consider this place when coming up with places to grab food or do grocery shopping. Let’s face it, eating from a gas station isn’t ideal for the obvious reason of being filled with overly processed, junk foods.
But there you are, kitted out in the middle of BFE and you’re bonking (or left your carefully planned food at home on the counter *guilty*, or was too busy to prepack food, or simply ran out…etc.). Where do you go? Whole Foods? Not likely! Gas stations are typical stopping points on long, rural rides. Hey it’s better than nothing! But is it?... Let’s take a look at your best options when faced with fueling up here.
Situation: The ride starts from a gas station and you arrive rushed, without eating breakfast!
Look for: Items that will sustain your energy levels and provide usable energy.
Best Options: Muffin + Milk, Breakfast Burrito + OJ, Granola Bar + Yogurt, Banana + Trail Mix.
Skip It: Candy, Beef Jerky, Sport Drink, Protein Bar (these items will either kick in too soon, or not soon enough)
Situation: You are mid-way through a several hour ride and are feeling a bit hungry.
Look for: Foods that will aim to replace the meal you’re missing; meaning, try to find whole foods and a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate.
Best Options: Hard Boiled Eggs + Pretzels, Cheese Stick + Rice Krispy Treat, Banana + Nut Butter, Trail Mix + Smoothie Beverage, Sandwich (watch your offerings and use common sense about ordering perishable food in questionable establishments!), Pay Day + Milk.
Skip It: Chips, Pizza Slices, Hot Dogs, Pastries (These items are high in fats that aren’t likely to sit well when you return to riding).
Situation: It’s a hot day and you need some cold relief!
Look for: Cold liquids
Best Options: Water, Diluted Sports Drink, Unsweetened Ice Tea, Popsicle, Juice Beverage.
Skip It: ICEEs/Slurpies, Soda (too much sugar and carbonation are likely to make you feel sloshy and sick)
Situation: You are bonking hard and need some quick energy to get home.
Look for: Foods that are easy to digest and higher in simple carbohydrates/sugar than fat and protein.
Best Options: Laffy Taffy, Sports Beverage, Granola Bar, Banana, Dried Fruit, Coffee Beverage, Juice Beverage.
Skip It: Beef Jerky, Trail Mix, Protein Bar, Snickers Bar (These items are lacking the carbohydrate needed to provided fast energy)
Situation: Just finished a hard 2.5 hour ride and you didn’t bring any recovery food.
Look for: Fuel to replenish with should be a mixture of carbohydrates and protein and should be just enough to provide immediate recovery until you get home for a real meal.
Best Options: Sandwich, Smoothie Drink, Chocolate Milk, Apple + Nuts,
Skip It: Candy, Sport Drinks, Soda, Juice (too high in sugar for proper recovery)
So yes, you can get by just fine fueling your ride from gas station options in a pinch, but try not to rely on these convenience items for constant fueling. Regardless of the situation, your best bet for overall health is to aim for choosing as whole, real food options as available at the particular establishment.