Could this be the ultimate pre-ride meal? Quick, easy, packed with carbohydrates and open to numerous tweaks (or ‘serving suggestions’).
We speak, of course, of the humble bowl of porridge, a staple of the cyclist’s diet and something with which many of us will begin a day in the saddle.
First, the science bit. What gives porridge its potency as a fuel for cycling? We asked The Training Room’s Chris Hole, who identified the high carbohydrate value of oats as porridge’s principle benefit to the cyclist. To a far lesser degree, he says, the oats will also provide fuel from fats.
Chris makes his porridge with 100 grams of whole, rolled oats, prepared with water, and served with a generous sprinkling of various seeds (hemp, poppy, and sunflower among them) to provide healthy mono, poly, and unsaturated fats. He adds desiccated coconut for flavour, crushed almond for protein, and eats between two and three hours before the ride.
The results of a swift survey at RCUK Towers and among some of our associates can be found below. How do you have your porridge? Share your recipe for success in the forum.
Tom Murray, pro cyclist, Team IG-Sigma Sport
Tom has rolled oats prepared with semi-skimmed milk and drizzled in honey. “I can’t stand it with water – it tastes like wall paper paste!” he says.
A self-confessed non scientist, Tom simply adds as much as he needs to the pan, rather than measuring the quantity of oats. A drizzle of honey for flavour completes the dish. Tom eats three hours before a ride.
David Arthur, racer, Editor, Bikemagic
Meticulous in the preparation of his machinery, DA adopts a more laissez-faire approach to preparing his porridge. “Just chuck what looks like the right ratio of oats and water in a pan, and adjust through cooking,” he advises. “I never quite get it the same from morning to morning.” Dave adds just a dash of milk, reducing calories and costs, and is ready to eat. On days when he needs a perk, he’ll add a dash of brown sugar, honey, or a handful of raisins. Dave’s porridge intake is confined to winter months; in spring and summer, he reaches for the museli.
Dave Jacquin, two wheels, will race, Senior Tech Editor, Mpora Gear
The Daves are united in their preference for porridge as a winter fuel. DJ prepares his porridge with a cup of oats and cup of water, and after heating adds raisins, a pinch of salt, and golden syrup.
Helen Wyman, pro cyclist, Kona Factory Racing
Even multiple national champions fill up on porridge before riding. Helen has whole rolled oats prepared with water and served with plenty of fruit, including blueberries and banana. She has only one meal before a race, says husband and cycling team manager, Stefan, and porridge meets her needs perfectly. Helen eats about three hours before a race.
Mark Bishop, Teddington Terrier, RCUK sales team
A rider who fuels on porridge most mornings, and who likes the finished article to be ‘quite solid and heavy’ to protect his ‘delicate stomach’ [Bishop? Delicate? Really? – Ed] Mark’s preference for ‘low maintenance food’ has converted him to the Quaker’s Oats So Simple sachets.
Tom Kirk, coach, Custom Cycle Coaching
Tom adds skimmed or semi-skimmed milk to crushed oats, and an egg for protein and texture. He doesn’t measure the quantity of oats, but relies on experience to gauge the amount required. Tom adds a small amount of honey for flavour, and eats between 2.5 and three hours before a race.
Paul Haysom, Strava addict, RCUK sales team
In breaks between riding and checking Strava, Paul fuels with porridge ‘infused’ with golden syrup. “It never seems boring,” he says. Paul adds a banana to the oaty goodness of his porridge and is good to go.
George Scott, rower, runner, rider, News Editor, RCUK and Bike Magic
George adds semi-skimmed milk to a sachet of golden syrup flavour Oat So Simple porridge. “Probably not the healthiest porridge option out there,” he concedes, “but it’s quick, convenient and I like the taste – it never gets boring. Plus it keeps me full up until lunch.”