Training and Racing Portables
Base phase training in winter and early spring is the perfect time to start considering your nutrition intake and the timing of it, for each session. Bike and run sessions are typically longer in this phase, so taking in some food/sports food will assist in getting a high-quality return from your efforts. However, it is also a good time to periodise your intake of commercial sports foods. Doing this allows you to become better adapted to fuelling, reduces the risk of flavour fatigue come racing season, and helps to save some serious coin.
How do you maximise training adaptations while still taking in quality nutrition? With whole foods.
Wholefood options can be just as effective as the bought stuff, and the market for selling these types of options is expanding for that reason. However, lets talk strategies that will allow you to easily make some options at home, for a fraction of the price.
When to use whole foods while training:
For longer, more aerobic sessions, whole foods are a perfect addition that we really encourage for many reasons. — Alicia Edge
Although whole foods are a great option, they can cause havoc to your training or racing if used at the wrong time.The main reason for this is that they need a lot more digesting than what you will need for a sports drink, gels or chews. As such, it is best to avoid whole foods when the intensity of the session (or race) is higher, e.g. if you’re doing efforts, time trials or hill climbs.
What are the things you want to look for in a good portable?
Nutrition wise, you want a snack option that contains carbohydrate primarily. This will then be complimented with smaller amounts of proteins and fats depending on the recipe. This is why you will often find portable snacks based on higher carb options such as rice, oats, syrups and dried fruits.
Beyond that though, it needs to be moist enough that you can chew and swallow the snack without struggling to breathe. There is nothing worse than trying to eat something on the bike that is too dry and leaves you fighting for oxygen and doing a dry cough.
The snack needs to be a convenient size to fit in pockets/bags, while also being easily opened and eaten. This all comes down to packaging! Options that work well are small sandwich bags or baking paper. Having options in bite-sized pieces can also be super handy.
Some savoury portables to break up all that sweet, include –
These can be dry, so leave these for
slower aerobic sessions where you know you can access water easily. They are carbohydrate-based with a good dose of salt too.
These are so easy to make with a basic dough. Roll the dough out into a rectangle, fill with a filling of choice (combos like vegemite and cheese or pizza sauce and cheese work well), slice into scrolls and bake.
Peanut Butter or Vegemite sandwich/wrap:
These are really easy options that require very little prep. Trim the crusts off any sandwiches to make intake even easier.
One portable that is brilliant on long rides, long runs or during ultra-endurance events is the humble potato. After boiling the potato until tender (with skin on), gently peel off the skin while still warm. Immediately roll in some olive oil and grated cheese (plus extra salt if you want) and allow to cool (cheese should crust over). Wrap individually in foil and place in the fridge until you are ready to go.
Savoury Bread Pudding:
Bread pudding can be made sweet or savoury depending on your preference. Simply chop bread into small chunks, place into greased muffin tins and top with a combination of milk, eggs, cheese and bacon (or make a sweeter option with berries and maple syrup). They only need to then bake for 15minutes, and you have lovely bite-sized portables to wrapped ready to go!
These are a great idea brought to life by Allen Lim (author of ‘The Feed Zone Cookbook’). It uses a mix of boiled rice, bacon, eggs, soy sauce and sugar to form carbohydrate and gluten free bars for an easy snack on the bike or run. If you haven’t tried them, we can highly recommend it!
Wholefood snacks on the sweeter side:
Of course! The original sports food! For easy access, cut the banana in half before putting it in your back pocket – this makes one-handed peeling much easier.
There are so many options and combinations available for energy bites. Similar to bliss balls, they tend to be based on more carbohydrate centric options rather than protein/fats. Turn the page to see our recipe creations.
As this is based on good amounts of bananas, the texture of banana bread tends to be perfect while exercising, as it is much moister than other options.
If you are a fruit cake fan, then this is one seriously easy portable. Our three-ingredient recipe could not be any simpler, and it is a real favourite in this household. Our provided recipe makes a good-sized batch that is easy to freeze in bite sized pieces ready to grab before your next session.
Homemade Cereal Bar or Biscuits:
There are lots of great recipe ideas out there for biscuit and bar options based on oats and bananas. When you are making these though, just remember that you want to create an option that is easy to get down and isn’t going to crumble in your pocket or be hard to get down.
Getting the Balance Right:
Overall, there is a real place for whole foods in both training and racing if used appropriately and with the right timing. As tolerance of these foods can be reduced at higher intensities, this is where more commercially available sports foods can really come into their own for performance. But for longer, more aerobic sessions, whole foods are a perfect addition that we really encourage for many reasons. So, when you next have time for some kitchen creations, make some batches of portables, freeze in snack-sized portions and make your training nutrition really easy to manage as you build your base into the coming triathlon season.