By: Ali Thornton
Cycling is now Australia's fifth favourite sport, but it is still less popular here than in Europe. This is despite the fact that is cheaper, safer, greener, and better for your health than driving. By boosting your cardiovascular performance, you can break down calories more easily and can therefore be less restrictive in your diet. If you eat a lot of protein, then cycling is also perfect for converting this into muscle mass.
Whatever your diet, getting on a bike will be of benefit. It will give you an appetite when you are struggling to eat enough, while burning off calories if you have eaten too much. Once you learn the incredible health benefits of cycling, you will have the motivation to get yourself a bike and start using it on a daily basis.
Physical health Benefits
Cycling works with your diet to improve your health in several ways. You may be eating more leafy greens and avocado to boost heart health, but this won't be as effective without the incredible cardiovascular benefits of cycling. Meanwhile, maybe you are consuming greater quantities of salmon to ease achy joints and cycling can help to loosen them up further.
If you are on a high protein diet, with plenty of meat and fish, then you will need a bike to increase muscle mass. If you have been cutting out saturated fat, then cycling will speed up your metabolism and if you have been upping your intake of vitamin D and calcium, then remember that cyclists have stronger bones. These are just the physical benefits, but bicycle exercise is also linked to decreased stress, depression, and anxiety.
Choosing a Bike
You have decided that cycling will improve your life and enhance your diet, but how do you choose the right bike for you? Firstly, ensure the bike frame fits your body. Go into a bicycle shop and sit on a bike you like the look of. When the pedal is at its lowest point, your heel should just barely touch it. When holding the handle bars, your elbows should be slightly bent but, for good back health, your spine shouldn't be stretching to reach. Any good bike salesman can go into more detail on this with you.
You then need to decide which type of bike you want. A road bike is better for getting up to speed to boost your heart rate, while a mountain bike can build more strength by taking you into rougher terrain. You may also want to think about versatility. A bicycle that can be used for commuting will be ridden more often.
Best Nutrition for Cyclists
Cycling burns a lot of calories, so making sure that you eat properly is essential. This is the fuel that keeps you going over long distances and without the right food, you could find yourself exhausted a long way from home. You should therefore learn to eat properly before and after cycling, while bringing healthy snacks with you for the journey.
Multiply your distance traveled by 50 to work out your additional calorie needs, so a 20 mile bike ride requires and extra thousand calories. ( multiply than by 4.12 if you work on kJs) Carbohydrates are your main source of fuel, so consume between 5 and 9 grams of carbs per kilogram of your body weight. These should be slow burning carbs, which means fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. You will also need plenty of the healthy fats you find in avocado, nuts, and seeds, as well as an increase in protein, the most convenient form while cycling is in the form of protein balls.
Cycling is an incredible sport, which will turbocharge your physical and mental health. Ensure you invest in a great quality bike that fits you and your needs. Then, you just need to adjust your diet to get the most out of your exercise routine.
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