Febnutritionblog2“Real” Ride Foods

aka. “Training the Gut”

The gut (or gastrointestinal system) is a very trainable organ. Much like physical training of the muscles to endure long hours on the bike, the gastrointestinal system can be trained to endure larger amounts of food during riding. The gut contains approximately 100 trillion microbes, all of which respond to external and internal stressors/cues for digestion. Therefore by giving ourselves small amounts of “real food” successfully while under lower intensity work, we can slowly train our body to take larger amounts of food while enduring higher intensity training.


The Head vs. The Gut

The types of foods your gut and head desire while training can be similar or completely
different. I make this distinction between the ‘gut’ and the ‘head’ because often times
what you are craving in the moments of entertainment/distraction on long training rides is
not what you should eat at that time. For example, how many of us distract ourselves
with thoughts of limitless pancakes or waffles topped with butter and real maple syrup?
Or allow ourselves to become dehydrated while salivating over the thought of freshly
baked salty tortilla chips or burgers? Obviously, this is not what we should be eating
while in the middle of training! So, we force down another gel, gel block, gummy candy,
or peanut butter and jelly bite on stale white bread feel sick from overly sweet
mouthfuls, but see our performance improve all because we know we should be eating

It is true that these quick sources of carbohydrates can be performance saving
convenience. However, I think that the gels, gel blocks, etc. can be put aside while doing
base training and saved for more critical times like when you are racing, times of higher
intensity performance, or traveling.

These quick sources of energy are extremely effective for delivering necessary
carbohydrates to the working muscles in order to contract and release to
perform stressful activities like cycling so there is a time and a place for these types of foods.
But most preparation phase/base building rides are done at a lower intensity and should
allow for more blood flow to be directed to the gastrointestinal system for digestion
without inhibiting performance. During these times it is best to experiment with more
easytodigest “real foods” or semireal foods. These foods can be all sorts of flavors to
meet your desires and limit excessive food fantasies during your next ride.
A quick side note: for those of you who have already tried to eat “real foods” while
riding and ended up on the side of the road with stomach pains calling for a ride homeplease
check to see if you followed the below recommended criteria before attempting
again. Slight modifications can make all the difference for nutritional success! If you
feel you need more guidance, don’t hesitate to contact a sports dietitian to help you with
this matter.

granolabarsReal Food Criteria
Everyone’s system is unique, but there are some important criteria to consider that will make your choices in “real foods” more successful and encourage both your head and gut to continue to eat throughout your long ride. Here are a few things to keep in mind when eating “real foods”:

It should be easy to digest
It should be cut or portioned into smaller pieces
It should be easy to carry – the less messy the better (I suggest no chocolate coating during hot weather)
It should be yummy to eat and encourages you to eat (but not eat too much)
It should include primarily carbohydrates, secondly protein, third fat, and forth
Ideally offers variety two different kinds, one more sweet tasting and the other more
Limited amounts of caffeine included (this avoids the overcaffeinated bonk in the
middle of the ride)

bananasQuick Ideas:

Food items that can be easily taken on the bike are not limited to but can include:

Trail mix: mini pretzels + salted roasted soybeans + dried fruit
Nut butter and jam English muffin sandwich
Ham/turkey sandwich on sourdough (no mayo and little cheese)
Glutenfree toaster waffle folded in half and filled with honey or a  little peanut butter
White flour tortilla rolled with lowfat cream cheese and honey/jam
Animal crackers or graham crackers

Master Chef Not Needed!
Packaging this together into a tasty morsel can be a little tricky. More recipes have
recently emerged addressing this very topic and I encourage you to look at them. Try
them and see what your head and stomach think… Don’t be afraid to spend some time in
the kitchen making a mess it could become the extraordinary moment you concoct the
perfect ride food.

The Pyrenees Were Not Ridden In A Single Day!

For those of you beginning this nutritional training, give yourself time to experiment. On
your first attempts I do not recommend slamming down a full peanut butter & jam or ham
& cheese sandwich if you are not used to it! It takes time to ease into being able to
tolerate food while being active. Start with eating small amounts frequently during a
single ride. Then over the course of months, slowly increase the amount you take at one

A few things to keep in mind:

Add in “real” ride foods slowly and in small amounts
Alternate between small amounts of the alternative foods with your familiar
gels/blocks/candies, etc.
Slowly increase the total amount of feeding times over the course of a week/month to
consistently do it.
Give yourself patience and try different “real” foods if one type is not working for you.

Playing In The Kitchen

I am suggesting a few recipes to try which are alterations of other recipes I have found in
the past and had good feedback on from fellow riders. Feel free to change things as you
desire (like the type of flour or sugars used), but making sure it matches the above “Real
Ride Food Criteria”.

Sarah Weber, RD, LD

Sarah Weber, RD, LD


In good health,
Sarah Weber, RD, LD
Nutrition Services

Let us know what you think! What are your favorite “Real” Ride Foods? Share with us
on Facebook or Twitter……

Ride Muffins

A modified version of the Feed Zone Cookbook Recipe.*
Sweet and Salty Muffin:

  • 2 cups white rice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons brown rice syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon rice/potato flour
  • ¼
    ½ cup milk

Blend above ingredients together.

Mix in:

  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt (ex. Kosher coarsely ground salt)
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped almonds


Coffee Surge

  • 2 cups white rice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons brown rice syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon rice/potato flour
  • ¼
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee
  • ¼
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Directions for the Ride Muffins:
Makes ~ 12 regular sized muffins, or ~24 minimuffins
1. Heat oven to 325 degrees
2. Lightly grease or butter a muffin tin
3. Combine rice, egg, banana, sugars, and flour, and salt in a blender. Blend quickly to combine ingredients and slowly add milk to make a thick batter. Adjust the amount of milk.
Runny batter: let sit for 5 minutes so rice can absorb the extraliquid.

4. Fold in any additional ingredients.
5. Fill muffin tin with batter.
6. Bake 15-20 minutes until the centers are firm. Muffins will not rise much. Let cool completely, then use a knife/fork to loosen the muffins from the tin. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container.
*Borrowed from the Feed Zone Cookbook, of which I was not able to get direct permission to use sorry
Allen Lim and Biju Thomas, you guys are really hard to get ahold of…..

Gingerbread Teff Bars

Spiced Ride Bars – These Glutenfree ride bars can be cut into any size you’d like. They are also delicious as an offthebike snack or meal addition when topped with peanut butter or almond butter….

  • 1 cup Teff flour
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp ginger, ground
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup rice flour
  • 2 eggs

Directions for the Gingerbread Teff Bars:
Makes ~ 16 to 20 bars
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees
2. Lightly grease 8inch square baking pan
3. Mix wet ingredients together
4. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients
5. Add dry ingredients into the wet and mix until just combined (do not overmix)
6. Spread batter out into the baking pan
7. Bake 1520 minutes until the center is firm