Archive for the ‘nutrition’ Category

Product review: High5 Protein Recovery

Get this. Drink it.

Get this. Drink it.

I’ve been knocking back the protein shakes for several months now, and can totally recommend the High5 Recovery Tub.

Whether after a hard ride or heavy weights workout, drinking a bottle of this within 20 mins of exercise leaves me feeling significantly less fatigued. It doesn’t mean that you can skip meals, especially high-carb refuelling, and obviously you’ll still feel tired after hard efforts, but for me this makes the difference between being totally knocked out and being able to function as normal.

A case in point: after the Puncheur yesterday, my sister handed me a pre-mixed protein shake at the top of Ditchling Beacon. I drank it straight away, and followed it up with a bowl of pasta. I then drove home, cleaned my bike, did some chores, made dinner – basically felt pretty perky. I’m feeling a little soreness today, but probably less than I would without my hardcore protein fix at the end of the ride.

Product review: SIS Smart 1 energizer gel

Rocket fuel.

Rocket fuel.

Any energy product recommended by Alexandre Vinokourov deserves to be tried.

I have found these gels really effective in providing a perceptible boost when riding. Most importantly, one of these gels (unlike the High Five gels) is potent enough to rescue an impending bonk. Three is probably the max number to consume on any long ride, lest you get sick of them.

Ideal for the last couple of hours of a century sportive.

Winter diet

Wheat biscuit breakfast

At 26 January my weight is already down below 11st / 70kg. I’ve lost the Christmas flab simply by not over-eating at every meal. However, at this stage I’m not convinced it’s wise to lose much more weight. It will be easy to shave off 5-6 pounds between now and 4 July – no need to get hysterical.

With this in mind, here is a rough outline of my daily diet. This is accurate for days when I commute into work (40 mins), do 10 hours at my desk, then commute back.


  • 2 Weetabix with grapenuts / porridge
  • 1 fruit (banana or apple)
  • 2 toast with jam
  • tea
  • orange juice


  • coffee
  • optional nuts / dried fruit
  • very occasionally, a banana – mostly I can keep going til 1pm


  • ideally, a plate of warm food e.g. pasta, rice
  • or – Pret a Manger / Eat / Sainsbury’s sandwiches, in that order of preference
  • possible cup-a-soup, samosa, crisps (basically, this is my point, it’s January)


  • tea
  • 3 Weetabix, fruit (crucial to avoid the bonk on the way home)
  • possible biscuits / office munchies


  • all I can eat, plus seconds, of whatever it is – my girlfriend makes phenomenal curries and stews with chorizo, chicken etc.
  • beer
  • tequila shot
  • butter and soft cheese still allowed in moderation
  • yoghurt
  • chocolate if we’ve got it in
  • honey, ginger and lemon hot drink

I wanted to record this realistic picture of a hungry cyclist’s food intake when it’s cold outside and he’s already a bit skinny. There’s plenty of room for trimming out the munchies and the fatty / sugary stuff in due course.

Big-ride prep: what not to do

Last Friday, for the first time this year, I prepared really badly for my big weekend ride. Normally I’m really careful and focussed on my important training blocks, but maybe I was a little focussed-out after the Puncheur and Burgess Hill Classic both within a fortnight, and needed more rest. In any case, here’s my run-down of how it all went wrong.

Sleep: I had about 6 hours sleep on Thursday and Friday night. Not cool, I need at least 8 for 2-3 nights before a big ride to be in optimum shape.

Food: It was my Mum’s 60th last week, so on Friday my family and I went to Claridge’s for a celebratory tea. 

Tea at Claridge's: posh carbo-loading.

Tea at Claridge's: posh carbo-loading.

I consumed:

  • 10-12 small sandwiches, no crusts, mixed fillings.
  • 1 scone with jam.
  • A glazed fruit tart.
  • Half a chocolate cake.
  • 6 cups of tea.
  • 1 glass pink champagne.

Alcohol: after Claridge’s, and prolonging the posh party vibe, we went for a few drinks at the Park Lane Hilton. Later, I caught the tube to Brick Lane to meet some people in a bar.

I drank:

  • 5 double rum and cokes.
  • A bottle of lager.
  • A Jager-bomb (for the uninitiated, this is a shot of Jagermeister dropped into a glass of Red Bull, and downed).

My plan for Saturday was a 5-6 hour easy ride with Millsy, but the combination of poor sleep and a hangover found me tired, weak and confused at 7am Saturday. The weather was stunning, but I had a headache and dry mouth for much of the ride. It could have been the ride of the year, but instead it was an ordeal. 

Note to self: this is not to be repeated before July 4th!

Mornflake gets a makeover

Mornflake: a true kitchen contender.

Mornflake: a true breakfast contender (old-style packaging on the right).

Mornflake has had a packaging makeover. Gone is the old skool red-and-yellow logo; a new era has been ushered in, presumably aiming to re-position Mornflake alongside Jordans in the competitive muesli market. The farmhouse colour scheme and countryside imagery hit all the right rustic notes. Back of the net, then, for Mornflake. (more…)



A chocolate eclair. Not so healthy for ya...

People have started remarking on my weight. ‘You look quite thin’ etc. There was a point last year when this started, although this year I’ve reached that point earlier on, mainly because I deliberately set out to shave off a few pounds from mid-February.

Last year it wasn’t until after the Mexico trip that I lost weight – and that time I think I went from about 12st to a low of 11st 6 on the Southern Sportive in September. This year, I was less than 12st after Christmas, but I’m already down to 11st 6, if not lower. I need to be more scientific about this, but I think I’ve lost about 3-4 pounds over the last month.

It’s actually been really easy, check out Al’s pro weight-loss techniques:

  • eat just a bit less – if you’re riding 10 hrs a week, there’s no sense in cutting down massively. It’s actually enough to simply not have a second plateful for your evening meal.
  • cut out butter, mayo, bacon sarnies, creamy puddings, cakes, chocolate, crisps.
  • do the occasional ‘fasted’ ride i.e. ride to work without breakfast or do a mid-week session on just a banana – your body will start metabolising fat more efficiently. I find doing a couple of these a week over a 3-week period is enough to kick-start weight-loss.

Why bother? The bottom line is that losing weight = free speed. Climbing is also my strength, and the lighter I am the better I climb. All pro cyclists aim to lose weight gradually over the season, leaving their lowest weight target until they reach peak fitness. I’ve heard this referred to as being ‘on the razor’, the point beyond which a rider actually risks getting ill or, paradoxically, losing form (this happened to Iban Mayo too early in his 2005 tour, I think).

My target weight is to be around 11st for La Marmotte in July.

Product review: High 5 energy gels

I’m mid-way through a box of 20 High 5 energy gels, so I’m qualified to reveal that… they aren’t that good. While some may favour the fairly diluted juice-like consistency over other, thicker gels, my first priority is an energy kick. You just get the feeling with these that they aren’t giving you much.

It says on the pack that you should consume ‘1 sachet 10 mins before, then 3 sachets per hour during activity’. So, for a 5-hour ride, that’s 16 sachets? Are they crazy?

Energy stat breakdown per 100g:

  • Carbohydrate – 56g (of which sugars 26g)
  • Energy – 224 kcal

Well I’m out, they don’t deliver. To be continued by the way – if this blog does nothing else over the coming months, it will definitely identify the best nutritional products for endurance riding!