B is for breakfast
When you first start cycle commuting there is a natural assumption that you will save money on fares and fuel, but quickly you will realise the cash your car used to guzzle is now being guzzled by your own permanently ravenous gut.
Cycling can burn as much as 500 calories in just 30 minutes! Ride to and from work every day and that is four extra Mars bars! That isn’t the best way to refuel, especially not if you want to lose weight, but you get the idea. Whilst cycling genuinely does burn a lot of calories it also has a strange capacity for making you feel really, really hungry. If since you have started cycle commuting your food bill has gone up and you are drumming your fingers on the desk by 9.30am because you are half-starving, you are not the only one!
Commuting by bike burns far more calories than even standing up on a busy rush hour train and fighting your way up packed escalators. It is a great way to lose weight and get fit but like any exercise it needs to be properly fuelled. You can normally spot the cycle commuter in any office because when you open their desk drawer you find a stash of snacks instead of the usual half-chewed biros and some post-it notes. Just remember not to leave bananas in there – give them a few days and they stink!
Before cycle commuting you may have dashed out the house without breakfast, just grabbing a quick latte on the way to your desk. Now, riding your bike to work, requires you to do some serious eating. To have the energy to pedal you need to start the day with a proper breakfast. However, for every rushed commuter time is always short in the morning but that it isn’t a reason to miss the most important meal of the day.
Porridge is a perennial cycling favourite but it isn’t a particularly fast option, but you can still get the benefit of slow release carbohydrates from oats by prepping them the night before. Try mixing grated apple, chopped nuts, natural yoghurt and a splash of apple juice in a bowl with your oat and leave them in the fridge overnight to soak. Stir in a dash of milk in the morning to loosen it and et voila – your porridge is ready to be served, all be it cold.
Once you get to work you will probably be ravenous again. No one eats more than the daily cyclist. It is worth having another quick snack, just to top up again and make sure you stay on the ball until lunchtime. Dried fruit and nuts are very useful to keep stashed away somewhere as they have a bit of sweetness and enough fat and protein to make you feel full. This should keep you away from the office vending machine!
Mid-afternoon is another key point in the commuting cyclist’s day. A bit of early morning exercise can make you feel invigorated and ready for the day ahead but the post-lunch slump can still get you. If you are planning on riding again later then this is the time to order your espresso. A carb rich snack and a shot of caffeine will see you through to the end of the working day and give you enough energy to swing your leg back over your bike for the ride home.
Commuting by bike has the amazing ability to see your food bill go up, even as your waist size comes down. Burn fat not fuel!