Cyclists Guide to Groceries
Words and Photos by Lori Nedescu of The Cadence Kitchen
Learning to navigate the supermarket can give you an edge on your riding and overall health. Here is a quick guide for navigating the supermarket along with a select list of foods every cyclist should fill their carts with and a ride fueling recipe.
Before you shop
- Survey your fridge and pantry to know what you already have.
- Write out a meal plan.
- Make a list and try not to stray from what you need.
- Don’t shop on an empty stomach!
At the market
- Grab a carry basket, not a cart. You’ll work your wimpy cyclist arms more by carrying your load. Plus, the smaller cart means less room for junk; get what you need and get out!
- Start with the perimeter, this is where the fresh, whole foods hangout. Go around the store once before going into the aisles.
- Fill your basket with the bright, colorful produce, fresh lean meats and seafood, and dairy first as these will be the bases for all your meals.
- Next move into the aisles and choose grains, seeds and nuts to round out your meals.
- Once you have your foundation, pick your extras: sauces, condiments, supplements, and any packaged foods.
- While premade packaged foods are a general health ‘no-no’, it is important for a cyclist to have a few on hand options for rushed times and fast fueling.
- Always aim to look for single ingredient foods. Beyond that, limit your selection to labels you can easily read, understand and have few ingredients.
- Shopping doesn’t stop when you leave the store. To get the most out of your trip, take time for a few extra steps.
- Instead of shoving all your goods into the fridge immediately, spend a few extra minutes on some food prep. You’re more likely to use your produce if it’s prepped and ready to go. Chop, dice, clean, slice and store in bags or containers so everything is ready to use.
- If you can, spend time immediately tossing together some complete meals to be able to easily eat healthfully throughout the week.
Suggested Shopping List:
- Red Beets – Many studies point to the endurance boosting effects of consuming beets. Wrap in foil and roast until tender or toss in blender with berries for a body boosting smoothie.
- Kale – Cruciferous vegetables of any variety are a good add due to their protective and detoxifying phytonutrients. Kale in particular is easy to add to salads, smoothies, or sautéed dishes and is loaded with Vitamin A, iron, calcium and Vitamin K to support a cyclists bone health.
- Banana – An easy to digest staple for any athlete.
- Oats – An excellent whole grain to fuel your energy needs.
- Walnuts – A great source of healthy fats, calories, and Vitamin E which protects heart health and helps ease sore muscles.
- Milk – Cyclists are known for having strong muscles and weak bones. Consuming the calcium from milk can help keep bones healthy. Opt for whole milk, which will keep you satisfied from the balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat.
- Sauerkraut – Grab a raw version and reap serious live probiotic power. Use as a condiment or side dish. There are many flavors and varieties to try!
- Cocoa – Believe it or not pure cocoa is high in iron which is a nutrient many athlete, especially women are low in. Add cocoa (look for a high % of cocoa) to milk, yogurt, baked goods, or hot water for a nutritious boost.
- Chicken Thighs – Thigh meat is higher in calories and fat, but also much higher in nutrients, especially B vitamins which facilitate efficient energy use.
- Avocados – These versatile fruit are high in monounsaturated fats to keep you satisfied for longer periods of time.
- Coconut Oil – Coconut oil contain Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT); think of it as a hybrid fat sitting somewhere between a carbohydrate and fat in terms of energy usage. The solid form also allows you to consume small amounts and control usage.
- Quinoa – This pseudocereal earns the ‘superfood’ label due to the amount of nutrient density and healthful properties. Naturally gluten free, this seed is rich in omega fatty acids, fiber, amino acids, vitamin E and folate. There is minimal difference nutritionally between colors of quinoa.
- Sweet Potatoes – A natural and nutritious way to carb up and packed with cramp reducing (potentially) potassium.
- Grass Fed Beef – Red meat is a great source of protein and iron. Keep your options on the healthier side by choosing grass fed varieties to increase the profile of healthful fats compared to grain fed beef.
- Chia Seeds – These little seeds became a big deal after being highlighted for their use by Tarahumara ultra runners. Use these nutrient dense seeds in your smoothies, salads, baked goods, juices, yogurts, etc… to stay full and hydrated.
- Matcha – This specific variety of green tea contains powerful amounts of ECGC, a phytonutrient most recognized for its cancer fighting properties. Matcha can also be very calming while promoting mental focus and clarity.
- Sesame Seeds – Easy to sprinkle on any meal, these little seeds are rich in zinc and copper; minerals that help your body heal.
- Eggs – Not only an easy way to get complete protein, but eggs are a good dietary source of the essential nutrient Choline which helps improve nerve and muscle signaling.
- Salmon – This fatty fish is a great source of omega fatty acids DHA and EPA which improve brain focus; a good thing for anyone trying to ride technical courses!
- Almond Butter – Opt for this nut butter over standard peanut butter. It has a better fat profile and higher vitamin E content to help reduce inflammation.
- Honey – As far as a natural sugar source, this one wins. It is high in compounds that help improve the immune system as well as giving the body a quick glucose boost.
- Canned Tomatoes – Canned sometimes wins. Keep these in your pantry to add to soups and curries for added lycopene.
- Canned Sardines – Easy to have on hand in your pantry, these little fish pack protein, omega 3s, and calcium. Smash onto toast, break into pasta sauce, or blend into a homemade dressing.
- Canned Beans – rich in fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates.
- Tempeh – Trade in your animal protein for this fiber rich protein option. Like tofu, it absorbs the flavors you put it with. So try peanut sauces, BBQ, or other big flavors.
- Nori – Sea veggies are a prime source of phytonutrients, iron and iodine. Eat sushi or crumble the sheets into your rice bowls.
- Cottage Cheese
- Frozen Dark Cherries – Cherries have a short season, so get frozen ones year round. They are rich in antioxidants that target muscle inflammation.
- Mineral Water – Get extra minerals while you hydrate!
- Hummus – Skip the nut butter and pack a sandwich spread with hummus or use as a dip for crackers and raw vegetables to get healthy fats, fiber, and complex carbohydrates.
- Aminos – Cyclists sweat. Replace that sodium in a way that flavors food and delivers essential amino acids which are the building blocks of protein and contribute to many bodily functions.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – From detoxing the body to stabilizing blood sugars, this fermented liquid does it all.
- Thin Crust Frozen Veggie Pizza – I know many cyclists who show up to hard long rides claiming to have ‘pizza legs’. This term means they ate a frozen pizza for breakfast and are fueled up and ready.
- Creamy Butternut Squash Soup
- Lentil Pasta – Cyclists need simple carbs on the bike, but should focus on complex carbs off the bike. Legume based pastas are high in fiber and protein to give you that pasta satisfaction without the simple carbs.
- Turmeric – The newest ‘it’ spice, you can currently find powders, teas, and pills packed with this orange root. I suggest grating the fresh root into smoothies, oats, and rice for a boost of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Consuming with black pepper helps increase absorption.
- Cold Brew Coffee – Caffeine aids in the release of fatty acids, making them more available for your body to use during exercise. Cold beverages before hot rides can also work to keep core temperatures down.
- Frozen Breakfast Burritos – A pre made option that you can heat up and have ready asap. Also easy to eat on your way to that morning group ride.
- Dates – Nature’s candy! Use to give yourself an energy boost before or during rides. 1 date has roughly 60 calories and 20 grams of carbohydrates.
- Sprouted Anything – Opting for a sprouted version of a seed, grain, bread, or legume gives you a more nutritionally dense product and one that is more easily digested and absorbed by your body.
- Kiwi – These bright green little fruits are packed with vitamins and minerals. Since the fuzzy brown part is edible, they can easily be packed with you for a healthy fueling option.
- Microgreens – These tiny greens are much more than just trendy. Studies show they pack concentrated amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytonutrients as compared to their mature versions. Almost any variety of your favorite leafy green can be found in micro form so start adding these to salads, sandwiches and even to top soups.
After a 2 + hour hard ride, I always consume a recovery snack immediately, then an hour or two later, I fuel up on this nutrient packed salad.
1 cup chopped kale
1 cup chopped spinach
½ cup sliced strawberries
½ cup sliced cooked beets
½ cup sprouted quinoa
6oz cooked salmon
1 handful walnuts
1 handful microgreens (optional)
1 tbsp sprouted watermelon seeds (optional)
Combine all ingredients and toss with a balsamic vinaigrette. Enjoy!