Nutrition on the road - What, How and Why?

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  • Being new to touring I've got quite some questions. May it because I actullay dont know what to do or out of plain interest in how others do it. One essential part of touring is nutrition. Hence the dedication of it's own thread. The foods and beverages we consume on the road differ from those we consume at home. I have some ideas about what I'll be stuffing my face with but there might be more to it.

    I'll be touring mostly through France and Spain, so baguettes will definitely be part of my diet. Probably every breakfast will consist of baguette with some sort of jam or marmalde, preferably the specialty from the region in which I find myself at that time, accompanied by some fruit. Quite like my regular breakfast exept that at home I eat yoghurt with muesli instead of bread. Drinks will be water.
    Breakfast is easy, full of carbs, some vitamin and requires just a knife. Only downside is that fresh fruit is fucking expensive in France.

    After breakfast comes during activity nutrition. I cant bring a 40 day supply of energy bars, nor would I if I could. As I plan riding 100km a day at an easy pace of 20-25km/h depending on the hillyness of the days course. Including getting lost, picture breaks etc. I'll be traveling approximately 6 hours a day. Though riding at an easy pace I still want to feed (over)sufficient during the ride. As a matter of fact I want to arrive at the next destination and not feel the need to eat. The downside of this 'strategy' is that I'll have to carry along the weight and bulk of all that food. I'm thinking bananas and high-carb low-fat cake/cookies or possibly bread like that of breakfast. I've got space for 2 water bottles, both filled with water and one of them with an added electrolyte tablet. Water can be refilled on the road.
    The during activity nutrition is once again full of carbs, contains vitamin from the bananas/optional other fruit and the electrolyte tablets, and is easy to eat and digest on the road.

    Post ride lunch will vary greatly. This is the only meal of the day that I'll allow to contain a higher amount of fat, which allows me to have a taste of the local cuisine since, especially in Spain, they tend to use a lot of oil. Drinks will again be water or maybe tea if I decide to bring it along.

    Dinner is a hard one. I love to cook, and when I cook I use many spices and herbs, fresh vegetables and chicken/fish. I cant bring nor afford all that on my trip, so I'll have to improvise. Rice is great but I cant travel with a 1kg bag of rice on me all the time, while buying smaller portions is too expensive. Pasta it is then. A pack of 500g spaghetti is cheap and though I wont finish an entire pack every day, I'll definitely be eating more that half of it for dinner. That covers the carbs.
    Second part of the dish has to contain some protein. Fresh fish and chicken won't be on my plate most of the time. Canned tuna however doesnt taste bad and is a great, healthy source of protein. Something like tofu could also be good but I have my principles: I dont eat meat substitutes.
    Third part of dinner would be a source of vitamins. I'll have to give that a thought as fresh veggies can be quite expensive. Good thing is that I'll consume a fair share of vitamins during daytime.
    Drinks will be water.
    So dinner fuels my need for carbs and protein, is easy to prepare and low in fat. It requires a fork, a (wooden) spoon, a gas burner and a single pan (though I'll bring two that fit into eachother, €6) and possible a knife. No plate as I'll eat directly from the pan.

    This is how I see myself eating and drinking during a tour. How do you guys do this? Am I overlooking something?

  • Don't be afraid of fat, the right kinds (and some are saying that virtually all kinds are the right kind) are your friend. Sugars are the main enemy.
    With canned fish, I'd recommend sardines over tuna; they have more quality fat, about the same amount of protein, more iron, lower on the food chain (less pollutants) and are not endangered. They're also way cheaper. And they don't taste like dolphins.
    Tempe is better for you than tofu, and has flavour (not to everyone's taste though).

  • For 100km a day at 20-25kmh you're worrying too much!

  • Don't expect any place in France to sell you food on a Sunday afternoon. They seem to have some kind of law against it.

  • Ill let you in on a little known secret...

    Potatoes are one of the best sources of of Vitamin C there is. (I only mention this because you mentioned vitamins!) They also contain complete (all be it a small amount) of protein and are very easy on the digestive system. Basically they are a superfood. You can survive in good health for a long time on only potatoes.

    Take some dehydrated potato flakes ;)

  • Don't forget protein at breakfast time, I always find having protein to start the day keeps me feeling more energetic throughout.

    When me and a couple of friends were touring France last year we would get camp packed up, get hydrated on the unlimited supply of campsite water, then ride between 10-20 miles before stopping for breakfast at either a super market or cafe... You don't really need to carry much at all, there are super markets/petrol stations/cafés literally all over the place...

    To me you're way over thinking it, just make sure if it's hot you have plenty of water (at one point on the trip I was carrying 2 x 850ml bottles mixture of gatorade and water in cages and a 2 litre bottle of water in my jersey pocket) and some sweets/trail bars for emergency energy and you should be fine. If you can see from the map you won't be near civilisation for a long time maybe rethink strategy...

    I have a suspicion though you're planning a very different approach to us, we carried bare essentials only so no cooking equipment... We did meet some Swedish girls carrying fully loaded panniers with cooking equipment and pantry stocks, we were jealous of their ability to cook, not of having to drag that weight around though.

  • Urban logs

  • Thanks for the input guys! I'm not really worrying but I do like thinking things through and writing walls about it. Sardines may be a good substitute for tuna, but I dont like it at all so they're kinda ruled out...

    Protein at breakfast is not a bad idea at all.. I'll see how I can implement that in the diet.
    And I do plan to bring cooking equipment. However, it will me minimalist stuff. A lightweight gas burner which fits inside the pans. To cook I'll use a sawed off wooden spoon and to eat some light knife and fork. It's not all that much extra luggage really but quite the extra comfort :)

  • At touring pace with lunch stops a drink should suffice have some Jelly Babies or fig rolls in a 'Tri-Bag' on the top tube for emergencies .

  • One essential part of touring is nutrition eating.

    Reducing cuisine to nutrition and you're not doing it right IMHO.

    Bread/Pastries/Coffee/Whatlooksgoodatthe­market/Whatlooksgoodoffthetree and eating with the locals it's easier to find nourishment than in the UK.

  • Have you tried riding after eating loads of bread before? Most people find it just sits in the stomach and is no fun (I used to do long rides with a baguette stuffed in my back pocket). I now go with potato bread which is more dense, but I'd think I'd try and avoid bread if at all possible.

    I also agree with ^, and it seems odd that you're talking about nation, vitamins etc, and then going for bread which is junk calories.

    I'd also say you're probably over thinking it as suggested up-thread. A couple of years ago I did 650 miles in 9 days, managed to get food poisoning on the first night, threw my guts up, and proceeded to ride ~80 miles on skittles alone.

    Also you might find this link useful:
    http://cyclingtips.com.au/2013/05/diy-sp­orts-nutrition/

  • ^ I think miro-o is saying not to worry about nutrition while on the road, which would make his list make sense.

  • I ' ve not done fully laden touring for a while and you have hit on the problem of buying and carrying food if you are your own.

    When I was last in France I remember lots of lunches of a baguette, tomatoes and cheese. As I was with a vegetarian so ham and pate were out. My advice is buy an Opinel knife to help you with lunch. I think we mostly did coffee and croissant for breakfast.

    If you hit a local market then that's worth stopping for . Huit a Huit , which are is 7-11 can be good for the evening stops.

    French tinned goods can be good- try the better brands of cassolet, the same for fish and soups.

    But my advice is don't worry. This is a tour , not the tour. Have some sugar ready for the occasional bonk.

    As Velocio said :
    eat before you are hungry, drink before you are thirsty.

  • You can survive in good health for a long time on only potatoes.

    I can't remember where I read it, but I read that to survive for a period of years on potatoes and milk alone, you'd need to eat something like 4kg of potatoes and two gallons of milk a day - which is going to be difficult to carry on a bicycle, at least.

    This is an interesting article about losing pack weight. I would avoid tinned anything because it tends to be overly heavy (the weight of the tin plus the weight of the liquid that you throw away) - dried sausage has a better calorie/weight ratio than tinned tuna (plus there are so many delicious regional varieties in France and Spain you'd be daft not to try them anyway). An emergency jar of peanut butter will get you out of trouble if you end up dinnerless one evening.

  • Paul de Vivie devised a code for the wise cyclist:

    1. Keep your stops short and few.
    2. Eat before you're hungry, drink before you're thirsty.
    3. Never get too tired to eat or sleep.
    4. Add a layer before you're cold, take one off before you're hot.
    5. Lay off wine, meat and tobacco on tour.
    6. Ride within yourself, especially in the first hour.
    7. Never show off.

    His wiki page is rather nicely done and worth reading.

  • I disagree with 2 points presented under 5.

    Cycling through France without wine and meat would be purely ridiculous.

    Also 7, you should always show off.

  • In case you didn't already know, it's worth remembering that almost all cemeteries in France have a fresh water tap for flowers and dehydrating cyclists:-)

    Last year I rode a similar daily distance and pace with friends, from Dieppe through the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. Breakfast was yoghurts and pastries, lunch was baguettes, cheese and salad, dinner was lots of rice and pasta. Supermarkets were easy to find, we normally rode to our campsite and asked them were the nearest was if we didn't just see it on the way in.

    Oh and "no wine" WTF is the point of going to France then! You'll need to wash down all the pasta;)

    Have fun.

  • Great reading all this info, I'm learning alot :)
    I totally love the tip about the water taps on cemetries, which I didnt know before.. And Paul de Vivie seems like an experienced guy.. Though I couldnt do without meat. My problem is that if I start the wine, it's hard to stop lol.. (Wooo touring in Schotland would probably kill me!)

  • Given his views on gears, it 's a little ironic that our leader( david) chose Velocio as his forum name .

  • 100k isn't too much, I'd say no special nutrition required, stop at shops and supermarkets and buy and eat what you feel like, stop at cafés for plat du jour or coffee when you can afford....always making sure you have some emergency reserves....muesli bars, water, bananas etc and buy something on Saturdays to see you through Sundays.

    if weather is hot, eat lots of salty crisps

  • Ultralight may not be your objective but this guy's somewhat spartan approach might give you, ahem, *food *for thought.

    Eating at local cafes and restaurants will give you, ahem, a *flavour *of the region and the opportunity to interact with the locals.

    Whatever approach you take, tens of thousands of years of evolution mean that your body is your best guide to what it needs.

    Could you expand on your ethical objection to Tofu? It isn't a "meat substitute", but a food in its own right.

  • I can't remember where I read it, but I read that to survive for a period of years on potatoes and milk alone, you'd need to eat something like 4kg of potatoes and two gallons of milk a day - which is going to be difficult to carry on a bicycle, at least.

    We are not talking about years.

    2 Gallons of milk is over 2800kcal (most adults also cannot digest such a large quantity without intolerance issues, so a weird recommendation)

    Dehyrdated potatoes weigh nothing, and Fresh potatoes are easily purchased anywhere in the world.

    I think whatever "thing you heard" is not acknowledging stored bodyfat either.

    Do not underestimate the potato! They are easy on the digestive system too, which for me is an important consideration.

  • I may fix myself some puffed potatoes when I'm wildcamping. My dad strongly recommends me not to camp wild though as he's afraid I'm gonna get raped and killed. I'm not afraid and will not follow his advise, but it does happen I guess...

    Tofu is in my ears a meat substitute. It may not be true but I do consider it that. And I have morale for the people who raise and feed the delicious cattle we eat.

  • ^ I think miro-o is saying not to worry about nutrition while on the road, which would make his list make sense.

    This. If you can eat well anyway, just enjoy the extra appetite.

    100k isn't too much, I'd say no special nutrition required, stop at shops and supermarkets and buy and eat what you feel like, stop at cafés for plat du jour or coffee when you can afford....always making sure you have some emergency reserves....muesli bars, water, bananas etc and buy something on Saturdays to see you through Sundays.

    if weather is hot, eat lots of salty crisps

    This is all sensible.

    I find morning markets are usually cheaper and more interesting than supermarkets and olives / cheese / salumi all more enjoyable ways of getting salts than crisps. It's all personal preference though.

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Nutrition on the road - What, How and Why?

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