5 More Superfoods to Enhance Your Cycling Power and Performance

Apples, oranges, and plums—oh my!

Having a pre-cycling snack or meal that’s low to moderate on the glycemic index—a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods in terms of how quickly they raise blood sugar levels—can improve your performance in a variety of ways. A 2009 study from the U.K. found that when cyclists consumed a low glycemic-index meal 45 minutes before performing a 40-km time trial on a stationary bicycle, they rode considerably faster than when they did the same exercise after a high-glycemic index meal. The researchers’ theory: The low-glycemic index meal allowed more glucose to be available to the working muscles.

An earlier study from Penn State University found that when people consumed a breakfast cereal with a moderate glycemic index (rolled oats) 45 minutes before cycling, their performance times were better and their blood sugar levels were steady for longer than after they consumed a high-glycemic breakfast cereal (puffed rice). Good low-glycemic choices include apples, oranges, plums, and strawberries, while moderate-glycemic index cereals include cream of wheat and muesli, oatmeal, and wheat-bran cereals

Energy Shots Can Crank Up Your Power Output

It’s no secret that a well-timed cup of coffee can rev up your energy and endurance for a workout. Now there’s a highly portable option: A 2014 study at Montana State University found that consuming commercially available caffeine-based energy shots can increase cyclists’ power output during an interval workout, alternating between bouts of moderate intensity and high intensity effort, during a two-hour indoor session. It's an easy way to supercharge your workout!

To beet or not to beet—that is the question

From the who knew?! department: Consuming beetroot juice (that’s right: juice made from beets) enhanced short-term endurance in a moderate-to-vigorous one-hour indoor cycling challenge, according to a 2014 study from Australia. What’s more, drinking the deeply colored juice can improve time-trial performance in cyclists, according to a 2012 study from The Netherlands. If you’re not a fan of the juice’s taste, add it to a smoothie with other fruits.

Milk: It does a cycling workout good!

You may have heard that having 12 ounces of chocolate milk is a good way to replenish your muscle glycogen stores—thanks to the combo of carbs and protein—after a strength-training or cycling workout. Now, research from Griffith University in Australia found that consuming a milk-based drink is a better way to rehydrate after cycling than relying on a traditional sports drink. An added bonus: When women consumed 600 mL (20 ounces) of skim milk after doing 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous cycling on a stationary bicycle, they ate 25 percent fewer calories an hour later, compared to cyclists who had an orange drink, according to a 2015 study from Northumbria University in the U.K. Time to put on a milk mustache!

Spice up your ride with turmeric

Believe it or not, a simple spice with a long history can help you feel better as you ride. A 2015 study from Malta found that when recreational athletes consumed turmeric (a culinary spice that is a predominant ingredient in Indian curries and is known to have anti-inflammatory powers) as part of their diet, they felt less stressed on training days (following two hours of cycling), compared to when they consumed a placebo. Other research has found that taking curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) supplements can reduce exercise-induced oxidative stress by increasing antioxidants in the blood. Consider adding turmeric to soups, stews, and rice dishes—your taste buds will be delighted.

Continue Reading