In Dietary, Health

Want to reach your cycling goals and seriously up your game? It’s not just about training and practicing in the lead-up to an event or ride. In fact, cyclists often find clever ways to give themselves that extra edge over the competition.

Whether it’s energy gels, regular supplements, or sports drinks, there’s a whole load of options out there and they are easy to find online. However, there’s just one major drawback. None of the above are at all ‘natural.’

Should you want to boost your performance naturally, there is another way to go. Believe it or not, there are loads of natural ‘superfoods’ that can help you to prep for your challenge. First off the bat, let’s take a look at one you may not have considered – dark chocolate.

Enhance riding performance

One study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggested that consuming dark chocolate could help boost cycling performance. This could be a real game-changer when it comes to sports nutrition.

Participants who ate 40 grams of the stuff daily performed better in riding trials than those who did not. Researchers concluded that chocolate could be an ‘effective ergogenic aid for short-duration moderate intensity exercise.’

The underlying reason for this staggering effect could have a little something to do with flavanols. Dark chocolate is rife with these naturally occurring compounds which promote healthy blood vessel function and increase the bioactivity of nitric oxide. There is also a reduced oxygen cost to exercise which can enhance overall riding performance.

Lower blood pressure

Of course, a major side effect of leading an active lifestyle is likely to be lower blood pressure. Did you know that eating dark chocolate could have a similar effect? One of the most conclusive pieces of evidence for this particular theory comes from a Randomized Control Trial from the University Hospital of Cologne.

The study found that regular consumption of ‘cocoa-containing foods,’ e.g. dark chocolate, could help to reduce blood pressure. While the reason behind this effect was unclear, the results suggest that including this so-called ‘treat’ in your diet could be the key to driving down your blood pressure and, as a result, reducing your risk of a stroke.  

Protect against sun damage

While you should protect yourself against UV rays using sunscreen when you ride, there could be another way to keep your skin safe. Perhaps one of the most surprising benefits of eating dark chocolate is the effect it has on your skin. Again, this happy side effect is thanks to the flavanols that you will find in many cocoa-based foods.

In-depth research found that, when consumed regularly, these flavanols could protect against sun-induced damage as well as increasing skin density and blood flow to the skin. The latter could also help to give your skin an extra level of protection. Experts suggest we should eat flavanol-rich foods in the weeks leading up to sun exposure for the best results.

Conclusion

You are what you eat. It hardly takes a genius to understand that what you put into your body has a direct impact on how it functions. While you’re in the midst of training for an event or just working out, it pays to be conscious of the food you choose and how it affects your athletic goals. Including dark chocolate in your diet will by no means be the answer to your cycling woes, but it could seriously benefit your performance.

Ready to race as part of the 2018 Eroica Britannia event? You’re in luck! Shed will be ready to help fuel your ride with our nutritious and effective Heroic Bar. Packing oats, seeds, dates, bananas, raisins, Agrave, and cocoa powder, the pre-race snack will give you the energy you need to take on the hilly Peaks. Look out for the plant-pushers at this year’s festival!

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