You are what you eat !

At this time of year many people have great intentions to get fit and loose weight . These are very often not separate goals but can be combined to get real long lasting results . The brief respite in the weather over Christmas enabled many cyclists to begin working on their base training . Two , three and four hour spins are a great platform to work from as the year progresses . However , eating a big greasy fry before hand or burger and chips afterwards cancels out much of the hard work .

It is often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day . There is also the saying to eat ‘ Breakfast like a King , Dinner like a Nobleman and Tea like a Pauper ‘ . What you eat for breakfast really does set you up for the day so it is worth putting some effort into making the time to eat a good healthy meal . So , what should that be ?

Porridge !



Not microwave porridge but porridge that has been soaked overnight in a pot in warm water with one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice or natural yoghurt . This will neutralize the anti-nutrients such as tannins and complex proteins contained in the oats . The next morning a minute or two on the cooker will give a nice smooth easily digested breakfast that will get you through the morning without feeling peckish or needing a snack . It is also important to have some cream or butter on the porridge as the vitamins A and D that they contain are necessary to assimilate the minerals and other vitamins in the porridge . I like to add some Manuka honey to it to sweeten it a little too .  Microwave porridge is too thick and solid . It takes up less room in your stomach so you feel hungry sooner but it is also harder to digest so takes more energy too .

Last year I saw George Hincapie and his BMC team get stuck into a huge pot of porridge on the morning of a race . If it’s good enough for them it’s good enough for anyone .

All dry and packaged cereals are crap ! That sounds a bit over the top but consider the following . They are all made by a process called extrusion . A slurry is made of all the grains and they are then forced through a small hole which gives them the desired shape . Then they pass a nozzle which coats them in oil and sugar to give them crunch .This process destroys most of the nutrients in the grains and also the chemical vitamins that are added so that they can put up the RDA figures on the side of the box .

The University of Michigan did a test on a number of lab rats divided into three groups . One group got corn flakes and water , the second group got the cardboard box and water , the third got rat chow and water . The rats eating the corn flakes all died first . The last one died the day the first one eating the cardboard box did .

Another study found that rats given puffed rice and water died before rats who were only given only water and no food .

For lunch , soup is a real winner . A test carried out on British soldiers where half were given rice , veg and chicken along with a glass of water whilst the other half were given the very same meal blended into a ( not very nice sounding ) soup found some interesting results . An ultrasound scanner was used to take a look at their stomachs every hour after the meal . After the first hour both groups were similar . After the second hour the first group had no liquid left in their stomachs which left just the food that was being digested and their stomachs had shrunk to 2/3 the size and some were starting to feel a little peckish . The second group were showing to be much the same size as the previous hour . After three hours the first groups stomachs were almost empty and they were feeling hungry but the ‘soup ‘ group were still half full . After the fourth hour they were also almost empty but they had gone almost 30% longer before feeling hungry . The liquid food was also easier for the body to process so took less energy .

After training or racing the first twenty minutes are when the biggest recovery gains can be made . At their training camp in Spain currently the An Post team have a regime whereby straight after each training ride they have a bottle of Zipvit Zv3 recovery drink and a large bowel of Muesli . This replenishes the lost nutrients and gets the recovery process underway quickly to have them in good shape for the next days training .

There are no short cuts to getting fit and healthy , but there are small things that anyone can do to help themselves along the way . Eating the right foods , drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep are all things that will help you to have the energy to get out on the bike or to go for that run .


4 thoughts on “You are what you eat !

  • January 10, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    A timely post Barry.
    Porridge and soup my staples all through the winter, training or not(more likely:)).
    Slow-burn food, keeps you going longer without piling on the kgs.

  • January 10, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Nice post Barry, it’s making me feel rather guilty about the massive breakfast I ate this morning. But do you not find a big bowl of porridge makes for rather enthusiastic bowl movements?!

  • January 10, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    As they say Cillian ‘Sure ’tis a good thing to be regular ‘ . And , it might also add to the weight loss figures .


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