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It's Not That Bad For You!

by Levi Bloom on 7/22/06

With this low-carb craze sweeping the nation, it's no wonder why any food containing sugar is shunned.

Some athletes are shunning energy bars and drinks in favor of burgers and protein shakes.

Is this really how it should be?

I'm no RD, but I've done some serious reading on nutrition (especially sports related) and I just don't see what all the fuss is about.

So what am I getting at here? This: As an athlete, you need carbs. Everyone needs carbs to function. They just don't need to be cookies and ice cream.

I'll try to dispel some common myths about snack foods so you can please your sweet tooth while staying healthy.

That said, here are some snacks I eat regularly (amongst plenty of fruits and vegetables, of course!)

Cereal

This is a big staple in my diet. Raisin Bran, Wheaties, any flavor of Cheerios, Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes, Honey Bunches of Oats, etc. It's great for breakfast and for snacking throughout the day.

Cereals have gotten a bad rap since they're full of carbs, but that's fine with me. (Like I said, you need carbs if you are going to ride...) I'll take carbs, fiber, and vitamins and minerals over fat and grease!

Just watch out for the ones that sneak in crap like high fructose corn syrup.

Graham crackers

Sweet, tasty crackers that are low in fat and only have a reasonable amount of sugar. A great snack for before your ride.

Bagels

Like cereal, I eat lots of bagels and rolls. Just look for whole grain varieties. High in calories so they give you plenty of energy. Miles better than muffins or donuts!

They go great with natural peanut butter.

Gummy bears

I love to chew on gummy bears for fun. They're fat free, so you're just getting sugar. These are a great treat to take along on a ride since they won't melt, and they'll provide instant energy.

There's not really any nutritional value, so don't use them as a replacement for bananas, but feel free to enjoy them sometimes.

They're no worse than any energy gel!

Fig Newtons

Although fairly high in calories, these cookies contain about the same amount of carbs as a Powerbar, so they're great for before or during rides. The figs pack plenty of nutrients, too.

They even come in a whole wheat variety now.

Jell-O

Like gummy bears, it's simply sugar. No fat and low in calories, and the neat texture can ward off cravings for worse junk foods like cheesecake.

Popcorn

As long as you stay away from the stuff covered in fake butter, which is filled with partially hydrogenated oils, popcorn makes a great snack. Popping it yourself is the best, but if you get the microwave stuff, I recommend kettle corn... it's really good, and lower in saturated fat than other varieties.

Pizza

If you can find a place that has a fairly thin, dry crust, you're set. Especially if it's available in whole wheat. Avoid anything greasy, either crust or toppings. Go light on the cheese and heavy on the veggies. (Especially with these 10 Healthiest Pizza Toppings.)

 

Levi Bloom also writes health and fitness articles on his cycling coaching site, CoachLevi.com.

 

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