Consuming bars, gels and drinks while on the bike is standard practice for most riders, but it can be a different story if you have special dietary requirements such as Coeliac disease or gluten intolerance.
Coeliac disease affects one in every 100 people, with nearly 75 percent of cases going undiagnosed according to Coeliac Australia.
BikeRadar recently spoke with endurance mountain bike athlete Andrew Blair of team Swell-Specialized about how he manages his Coeliac disease. The 2012 Australian mountain bike marathon champion said: "It took me many years but I’ve learned that it’s not a hindrance to my performance. It doesn’t stop me from being my best."
Blair told BikeRadar that it’s definitely easier than it used to be, as most gels and sports drinks are now gluten-free. "I don’t eat solid foods during races, but when training I prefer to eat real food," he said. "I often make my own cake, which is tasty and full of appropriate energy." (Blair's cake is similar to Jo Hogan’s recipe below.)
Blair mentioned the importance of not self-diagnosing Coeliac disease or gluten intolerance and consulting your GP doctor before taking any action - cutting out gluten could mean that a proper diagnoses cannot be made.
Many grocery stores have nearly doubled their gluten-free selections in recent years, and more people have chosen to live gluten-free by preference, so there’s way more choice for Coeliac sufferers than there used to be.
BikeRadar has assembled a list of gluten-free energy bars and recipes that have proven to work well for those with food allergies - as well as those without.
Gluten-free energy bars
Em's Power Cookie Bars
AU$4.95 per bar / US$N/A / £N/A
Em’s Power Cookie Bars are three-time multi-sport world champion and nutritionist Emily Miazga's homemade cookies. Em wanted something closer to real food during her races and began using her power cookies as fuel. Of the five available flavours, chocolate cranberry craze is the only gluten-free option, however this is also BikeRadar’s favourite.
AU$4.50 per bar / US$3 per bar / £43 for 12 (from UKhealthspot.co.uk)
With a fresh homemade taste, Bonk Breaker uses only the best ingredients in its bars. Now the official bars of the Ironman Series and the USA Cycling Team, all 11 flavours are certified by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization and are also dairy-free.
From AU $2.60 per bar / US$1.79 per bar / From £23.99 for 16 (from astronutrition.com)
LARABARs are made from a mix of unsweetened fruits, nuts and spices, and that's it. There are no more than nine ingredients in any given bar, and every flavour - bar those with chocolate chips - are kosher, vegan, and gluten- and dairy-free.
Raw Revolution Bar
AU$3.30 per bar / US$1.89 per bar / £20.43 for 12 (from UKhealthspot.co.uk)
The ingredients in Raw Revolution bars are 80 to 100 percent raw; the company claims this eliminates any loss of nutrients through the cooking process. All products are vegan, gluten- and dairy-free, non-GMO and organic.
Gluten-free recipes for on-the bike
Jo Hogan's secret recipe: Raw cacao energy slice
Australian professional cyclist Jo Hogan, aka the Healthy Cyclist, suffers from coeliac disease, as well lactose intolerance. This homemade energy bar is ideal for her riding nutrition needs.
- 1/3 cup of almond meal
- 1/2 cup of desiccated coconut
- 1/4 cup of Raw cacao powder
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until a dough is formed.
- Shape tablespoons full of mixture into balls and place on a tray. Alternatively, place all the mixture in a slice tray and flatten with a spatula.
- This mixture can be baked for 15 to 20 minutes in an oven heated to 180°C or simply chilled in the fridge.
Allen Lim’s bacon and egg rice cakes
Lim says: "I started making these rice cakes at training camps and races to give riders something savory and fresh to eat while on the bike. They became a huge hit, since almost everything the riders ate was pre-packaged and sweet. Not only are these rice cakes delicious, they also provide a consistent energy source that doesn’t upset the stomach."
- 2 cups uncooked calrose or other medium-grain 'sticky' rice
- 3 cups water
- 8 oz bacon
- 4 eggs
- 2 tablespoons liquid amino acids or low-sodium soy sauce brown sugar salt and grated parmesan (optional)
- Combine rice and water in a rice cooker.
- While rice is cooking, chop up bacon, then fry in a medium sauté pan. When crispy, drain off fat and soak up excess with paper towels.
- Beat the eggs in a small bowl and then scramble on high heat in the sauté pan. Don’t worry about overcooking the eggs as they’ll break up easily when mixed with the rice.
- In a large bowl or in the rice cooker bowl, combine the cooked rice, bacon, and scrambled eggs. Add liquid amino acids or soy sauce and sugar to taste. After mixing, press into a roughly 20cm square baking pan to about 1 1/2in thickness. Top with more brown sugar, salt to taste, and grated parmesan, if desired.
- Cut and wrap individual cakes.
This makes about 10 rice cakes in 30 minutes.
Tip: Always use calrose rice, a strain of medium-grain rice common in Asian cooking. This variety cooks fast (in 20 minutes or less), retains a nutty flavor, and is just sticky enough to hold our cakes together. If you can’t find it, use another medium-grain rice or any kind marked 'sushi rice'.
This recipe was republished with permission of VeloPress from The Feed Zone Cookbook, by Chef Biju Thomas and Dr Allen Lim. The book features 150 athlete-friendly recipes that are simple, delicious and easy to prepare. Try more pre-ride, portable and post-ride recipes at FeedZoneCookbook.com.