OCBC Cycle 2016: Healthy but tasty food for cyclists

Come October, they will be taking part in a mass cycling event.

But yesterday morning, about 20 cyclists who will be participating in the upcoming OCBC Cycle 2016 turned into chefs for the day – thanks to a masterclass on healthy cooking, conducted by two of  the Singapore Sports Institute’s Sports Dieticians.

These OCBC Cycle participants took part in a Healthy Cooking workshop yesterday.

These OCBC Cycle participants took part in a Healthy Cooking workshop yesterday.

The workshop had been held at the Singapore Sports Institute’s kitchen within the Singapore Sports Hub and it had started at 9am.

At the cooking masterclass, participants were taught how to prepare nutritious and healthy meals that would see them in the best possible form – for the mass cycling event, which will be taking place on 1 and 2 October this year.

PrisChew.com’s rep, Chin, had been present at yesterday’s cooking class and he had thought that it was an “interesting and informative workshop” for cyclists.

The session took place at the Singapore Sports Institute.

The session took place at the Singapore Sports Institute.

An informative talk for participants 

Prior to the actual cooking session, participants were taken through a talk about carbohydrate periodisation and nitrates by dietician Huang Liyan.

According to the dietician, athletes should match their dietary carbohydrate intakes to their training needs, taking into account the duration and the intensity of the training session.

By doing so, this helps to improve training outcomes and maintains one’s weight. Also by performing some training sessions with low carbohydrate stores or restricting the carbohydrate intake during the session, this can improve overall performance.

Staff members debrief the dieticians before the session commences.

Staff members debrief the dieticians before the session commences.

Carbohydrate periodisation, according to the dietician, is preferably done during training sessions of low intensity. But during high intensity sessions, it is important to have sufficient carbohydrate stores though, both before and during the session.

Take a cyclist for instance. A low intensity training session can include a two-hour bike ride at an Easy heart rate zone and the body can get by with three to five grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight. But a high intensity training session, such as a four to five hour bike ride at a moderate heart rate zone, may need about six to 10 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight.

Nitrates on the other hand, is a nutrient that is commonly found in fruits and green vegetables. It can also be added as a preservative to processed meats.

Though it may not have any ergonomic properties on its own, nitrates acts as a neurotransmitter when it is converted to its active form, nitric oxide – which helps to regulate blood flow around the body, regulates muscle contraction and glucose uptake for exercise.

Participants were given ingredients high in nitrates to cook with.

Participants were given ingredients high in nitrates to cook with.

Foods that are naturally high in nitrates include beetroot, celery, spinach and lettuce.

Consuming more nitrates offers several benefits to cyclists, for example, by reducing a cyclist’s skeletal muscular fatigue during long bike rides, relaxing the body’s blood vessels and increasing the energy efficiency in the cyclist’s body by a massive 16 to 25 per cent.

A highly informative talk

Reflecting back on the session, Chin had thought that this talk had been highly informative.

He told me, “We learned that we need to match our carbohydrate intake according to our training needs – from a quarter plate of carbohydrate intake on a light training day, to half plate of carbohydrates on a heavy training day.”

Participants watch a demo before getting their hands dirty.

Participants watch a demo before getting their hands dirty.

Continued Chin, “That aside, also, periodically starving yourself with carbohydrates before a training day can improve performance – as it will teach the body to utilise fats instead as a fuel source.”

The actual cooking

After the talk, participants were then ready to start the actual cooking – and were taught how to prepare recipes using nitrate-rich ingredients – such as spinach together with cashew nuts and garlic which were made into a spread, alongside poached chicken and caramelised onions. These tasty ingredients were then whipped into a wrap and and onto a pizza.

According to Chin, both dishes had been quite simple to prepare and so, he does not think that busy cyclists holding down full-time jobs, would have any trouble finding the time to cook these. He told me, “They are simple to prepare and both dishes can be easily cooked within an hour.”

He added, “The poached chicken took the longest to prepare as it has a 30-minutes cooking time, but the ingredients were simple and easy to prepare though. So we quickly got the chicken underway and moved on to the spread. Last but not least, we stir-fried the onions and the beans and assembled the wrap and the pizza before eating them.”

Chin's beans are cooking on the stove.

Chin’s beans are cooking in the pan.

Besides the food though, the participants had also prepared for themselves, a smoothie yoghurt drink, made with mixed berries.

This beverage had generally been quite easy to make and it is a healthy and nutritious way to quench the sugar cravings.

Dietician Huang said, “The recipes that we taught today focuses on increasing nitrate intake that has been shown to improve endurance performance. Also, applying the concept of carbohydrate periodisation allows participants to tailor their intake to match their training load.”

Chin's healthy smoothie.

Chin’s healthy smoothie.

She added, “This improves training adaptation and energy balance, resulting in improved body composition and potential performance enhancements.”

Overall, Chin had really enjoyed the cooking workshop. He said, “The participants were really keen to get started and prepare the meals. The trainers and chefs were great too – very seasoned and organised.”

Comments from a national cyclist

Chin's completed pizza and wrap.

Chin’s completed pizza and wrap.

National cyclist, Low Ji Wen, who was also at the workshop, recommends that consuming the right resources of fuel with planned timing can drastically improve one’s performance on race day.

Said the cyclist, “Proper nutrition can help to supplement and better sustain your physical performance. Consuming your main pre-race meal primarily of complex carbohydrates two or three hours proper to flag off, will allow adequate time for your energy levels to be topped up and also for the food to digest comfortably.”

Chin proudly displays his masterpieces.

Chin proudly displays his masterpieces.

A host of other fringe activities for participants 

Besides the informative healthy cooking workshop, participants at OCBC Cycle 2016 can also take part in a host of other fringe activities such as a Cafe Bike Crawl as well as a family carnival. For more information, check out their official event website at www.ocbccycle.com.

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