What's the best alternative to bananas as fuel for a ~12 mile cycle commute?
August 31, 2009 2:59 AM   Subscribe

What's the best alternative to bananas as fuel for a ~12 mile cycle commute?

So I've recently started commuting to work by bike again, only this time it's a bit further than I've done before - about 12 miles. I need to make sure I put some fuel in my tank before setting off. The standard advice on cycle forums seems to be a banana 20 mins before setting off. I hate bananas. What should I eat instead?
posted by primer_dimer to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Oatmeal, power/cliff bars, musli, toast, pb&j sandwiches, etc etc. Pretty much anything you like to eat.
posted by beerbajay at 3:19 AM on August 31, 2009

Whatever you like to eat ~ even better if it's low in fat (easier to digest), and a good balance of carbs and protein. Yoghurt is good.

This is a 12 mile commute, not a stage race or a century where you need to fuel up during the event. Bananas are good because they're easy to carry in a jersey and eat while racing. For your commute, there's no need. Have a bidon of water available and remember to drink, though. Much more important and dehydration is always the overlooked factor in fatigue.

Enjoy your ride!
posted by Flashduck at 4:27 AM on August 31, 2009

12 miles?
1. Boil 4 eggs in water:
- Bring to boil
- Cut heat and let stand in water for 10 minutes. (Get the rest of your day in gear)
- Drain and peel eggs.
- Separate the whites from the yolks.
- bag the whites. (I feed my dogs the yolks on their dog food.)

Pre-trip fuel:
1Cup shredded wheat with 1/2Cup fruit (Berries, peaches, etc).
Eat this before you leave, and try to wait 20 minutes before you do. (I also slam down a cup of coffee and shave).

At work:
Eat egg whites once you get to work. The body makes better use of the proteins after your workout rather than before. Bring a toothbrush and toothpaste.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:45 AM on August 31, 2009

12 miles each way is a decent ride, but nothing you need to do anything special for. And there is nothing magical about bananas.

So have your usual breakfast with some carbs and protein. My usual breakfast, commute or no commute, is a veggie-cheese omelet. Add some oatmeal or toast if you like that.

To fuel up before you leave work, try some chocolate milk. Several sources claim it's a well-balanced choice for refueling after a ride, so it should be good for before a ride, too.

Have plenty of water to drink on the road and you're all set.
posted by maudlin at 5:50 AM on August 31, 2009

I think beerbajay and Flashduck are right that you don't need to worry too much about this. However, if you'd like to get the specific benefits of the banana (potassium, etc) without the annoying banana flavor, you could try making a smoothie. I usually throw in a banana and a few handfuls of frozen fruit (whatever flavors you like -- I mix blueberries and cherries) into a cup and whiz it up with my stick blender. It's yummy, cool, and tastes almost nothing like a banana. Great way to get some fruit in you quickly. Also, if you want protein, you can add yogurt or protein powder. It takes less than 2 minutes from peeling the banana to sipping smoothie.
posted by katemonster at 5:51 AM on August 31, 2009

Eat whatever you'd like to eat for breakfast.
posted by OmieWise at 6:38 AM on August 31, 2009

Carbs, your choice. Special K is particularly easy to digest and will not disturb your workout. The little bit of protein that comes with the milk is just right for balance.
posted by caddis at 6:45 AM on August 31, 2009

I'd say eat whatever you want. I do 30 miles a day, 15 each way, and some mornings, if I'm in a hurry, I skip breakfast all together. I do notice that I feel a bit more sluggish on those days, though, so I would say that you are correct that eating something is a good idea. This morning I had a pear before I set out which powered me all the way through my ride, and then I had a bagel and coffee on the other side.

In my experience it's far more important to be properly hydrated for a morning ride than to have any particular food in your belly. You can be pretty dehydrated when you wake up, and not having enough water in your system can cause you to have an awful, sluggish ride.
posted by Hello, Revelers! I am Captain Lavender! at 8:03 AM on August 31, 2009

One more thing - I'll second that yogurt is a good breakfast before a bike commute. Mix in some blueberries or other fruit (bananas, even) and you'll be set.
posted by Hello, Revelers! I am Captain Lavender! at 8:06 AM on August 31, 2009

I do 9 miles in the morning on an empty stomach because I find eating breakfast first makes me a bit queasy. Eat whatever doesn't do that. A bowl of cereal or some yogurt or an apple.
posted by GuyZero at 9:22 AM on August 31, 2009

I do 8 miles on an empty stomach in the morning, then have a cup of whole-milk yogurt with half a cup of berries when I get to work. That seems to work.

If it doesn't quite do the trick, a handful of almonds after breakfast usually will.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:00 AM on August 31, 2009

I can't believe how many people can eat yogurt before exercise! Doesn't it make you want to puke or crap your pants? Dairy is not friendly to my stomach prior to exercise, even though I have no other diary issues.

I have a similar bike commute and I eat either nothing (in which case I eat breakfast immediately upon arrival to work), or I eat a mini bagel with peanut butter and/or ride with gatorade mixed with water. I only eat if I have at least 30 minutes (but preferably 45) before I leave.
posted by peep at 11:36 AM on August 31, 2009

I've been doing 10-20 miles regularly the last month or so and I'm doing fine without any special preparation. As with Hello, Revelers, I think that hydration is more important (but then I wouldn't skip breakfast). I really think that after a couple of weeks you won't even notice those 12 miles.

Instead of a banana there are any number of choices. I'd lean toward a fruit bar like the Nutri-Grain (but I can't eat crunchy bars due to dental issues).
posted by dhartung at 9:45 PM on August 31, 2009

Thanks all, looks like I might have been overthinking things :-)
posted by primer_dimer at 2:16 AM on September 1, 2009

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