Anyone for Another Drink?
Every cell in your body relies on a constant supply of water to carry out a range of functions. But you don’t just have to stick with plain water, here are a few alternatives….
Tea is the nation’s favourite drink and, after water, the most consumed beverage in the world. It contains over 700 chemicals, including flavonoids, amino acids, vitamins (C, E and K), caffeine and polysaccharides, and is associated with cell-mediated immune function of the human body and improving beneficial intestinal microflora. Caffeine levels vary according to the type and strength of the tea variety, but are generally lower than in an equivalent measure of coffee, and it’s less diuretic, so it is more hydrating.
A cup of coffee contains 80-125mg of caffeine per 30ml cup. It also contains 8% of your daily niacin needs, for the production of red blood cells, and 1% of daily potassium needs, which helps regulate blood pressure and heart function. However it is diuretic so you should be aware that it can dehydrate you.
This type of drink replaces fluid and electrolytes lost through sweat and provides energy which is burned up through muscle use, enabling you to cycle further and faster. It also contains sodium, which takes water directly into the blood when it is absorbed.
Instead of turning to a cup of coffee to give you a boost, why not get a lift from a steaming mug of green tea instead? Not only is it packed with antioxidants – in particular catechins, which help people who exercise to lose weight – but a study conducted in Japan found that regularly drinking green tea could help boost endurance by up to 24 per cent.
After a ride or other exertion, make sure you restore fluid levels by consuming something to aid recovery. Potassium-rich orange juice is excellent as the potassium lost from your muscles during exercise needs to be replaced to stop muscle cramping and cardiovascular irregularities. Also the electrolytes in orange juice replace those lost through sweating, its carbohydrate helps restore muscle glycogen, and Vitamin C helps protect cells and keep them healthy.
Not only is it full of antioxidants, but according to research from Oregon Health and Science University, tart cherry juice can be an effective pain reliever. In the study, long-distance runners who drank the juice twice a day for seven days before a big run had significantly less muscle pain than those who drank any other fruit juice. Manufacturers of cherry juice and supplements claim this is due to the high levels of anthocyanins and other micro-nutrients, which can be powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
A warming drink such as hot chocolate or malted milk is sweet enough to boost sugar levels and give you a sense of wellbeing, warm enough to help you feel sleepy and lacking in stimulants such as caffeine. Plus, the amino acid tryptophan in milk can increase your body’s serotonin levels, aiding relaxation.
Coffee and cake is a cycling tradition. But which coffee and when? Sports nutritionist Tim Lawson of Science in Sport says that “caffeine by itself can promote fat metabolism and retain muscle glycogen”, so a black coffee before a fasted ride in the morning may increase the amount of fat you burn. However, an over-reliance on caffeine can compromise your sleep quality, “which will alter hormone levels and reduce your ability to process carbohydrates, possibly sending you on a downward spiral”. “Instead, save the caffeine hit for when you need it,” advises Lawson.
But which coffee type is best and when? Competitive cyclist and owner of 53x11 Coffee Evan Lawrence suggests a double espresso for a pre-ride energy shot. “This gives the boost of caffeine to stimulate the system and misses out the milk, which can have a negative effect on your stomach,” he says. During a ride, Lawrence would again go light on milk. “An Americano with sugar and a dash of milk is best.” This heightens energy without the risk of gastric discomfort from too much heavy liquid.
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