A balanced diet for cycling must consider the quantity of food that provides energy. It must include all nutrients and ensure a balance between energy expended and energy introduced with food. The energy power of food is commonly measured in Kilocalories (Kcal). A kilocalorie is a heat needed to increase a kilo of water by one degree. The energy released from food with this system corresponds to that released in our body.
Measure the Kilocalories
Several food tables calculate how many calories we need to meet our daily needs. Thanks to these readily available tables, we can also divide the activities according to their intensity and add them together. For example, we could do a similar calculation:
- Rest (sleep) 20 Kcal x every hour.
- Light activity (office work) 50 kcal x every hour.
- Moderate exercise (walking) 100 kcal per hour.
- Heavy exercise (high-intensity training) 400/800 kcal per hour.
We could then do a quick example calculation. A person who works in the office 8 hours a day, resting for 8 hours at night, while remaining 8 hours remains relatively sedentary, needs just 960 kilocalories a day. Then the kilocalories of the basal metabolism will be added, which differ significantly depending on age and gender (basal metabolic rate is higher in males). If this person enters 2 hours of intense training, he will see his need for kilocalories rise to 2000 or even 2500 kilocalories.
Breakdown of Total Daily Energy
How should the intake of these calories be distributed throughout the day? Approximately as indicated by this diagram:
- Breakfast 20%
- Morning Snack 10%
- Lunch 35%
- Afternoon Snack 10%
- Dinner 25%
Types of calories of a diet for cycling
Are all calories the same? Of course, not! How then should they be distributed and composed to ensure that we have a diet that is as healthy and balanced as possible? The recommended daily intake levels are:
- Calories from carbohydrates 55%;
- Calories from Fat 25%;
- Calories from protein 25%
and never forget minerals and vitamins.
Warning: this table is based on the calories provided by the various elements, not on the quantity of food. For example, fats have a high caloric value, so to reach 25% of our daily caloric requirement, a few fatty foods, still rich in calories, will be sufficient.
It is clear that a customized diet for cycling according to our specific needs would be the best. However, we hope to have clarified a fundamental point: the importance of calculating the proper diet for those who approach cycling frequently or with certain distances.