Three-Bean Chili Polenta Pot Pie | Bob's Red Mill

Postpartum Eating: Three-Bean Chili Polenta Pot Pie

by Stephanie Wise in Featured Articles, Gluten Free, Recipes

I am three months into this thing called motherhood and I’ve already learned a few things fast: First, that sleep deprivation takes on a whole new meaning when you’ve got a newborn; second, that I would take one smile from my daughter over a full night of sleep most any day; and third, that as a breastfeeding mom, my nutrition is just as important as it was when I was pregnant.Three-Bean Chili Polenta Pot Pie | Bob's Red Mill

I really haven’t been able to find much information, however, on postpartum nutrition apart from the usual: “Eat a balance of healthy fats, proteins, fruits and vegetables.” And while that is good advice, it doesn’t really help me make specific meals that coincide with my new busier-than-ever schedule and added caloric needs due to nursing. So not only have I had to learn to be more in-tune with my body and its needs (in other words, pay attention to cravings and satisfy them in healthier forms), I’ve also had to come up with creative ways to get my nutrition in, literally, one-handed and in a short amount of time.

This recipe for a three-bean chili polenta pot pie fits the bill on all counts for dinnertime. It’s incredibly filling thanks to the beans and creamy polenta crust, and it takes about a half hour to make from start to finish. The flavors are satisfying, too, and cover a multitude of cravings whether you’re pregnant, nursing or just really hungry. You won’t even miss the meat in this pot pie, though the addition of ground beef or chopped chicken is quite tasty and adds an extra dose of protein.

While as a new (or maybe not-so-new) mom, your baby is your first priority, your own health should come in at a close second. This recipe works wonders for your postpartum nutrition and is friendly to your busy schedule, too.

Three-Bean Chili Polenta Pot Pie | Bob's Red Mill

Three-Bean Chili Polenta Pot Pie

Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil, divided
  • 1 White or Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin
  • 1-½ tsp dried Coriander
  • 1 tsp dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 1 (15-oz.) can Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can Pinto Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can White Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ½ cups canned Corn, drained
  • 1 cup canned Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 2 cups Vegetable Broth

For the polenta topping:

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. In a 3 to 4-quart Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet over medium heat, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil. Add chopped onion and chopped bell peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes until vegetables are softened. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, dried coriander, dried oregano, sugar, cocoa powder and salt; stir and cook another 2 minutes.

Stir in beans, corn, tomatoes, tomato paste and vegetable broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat; add more salt to taste.

Transfer Dutch oven or skillet to oven and bake 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the polenta: In a medium saucepan, bring broth or water and salt to a boil. Stir in polenta. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes until polenta is thickened and cooked through. Remove from heat.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Remove Dutch oven or skillet from oven; carefully spoon and spread polenta over the top of the chili. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Bake another 15 minutes until polenta is firm and golden brown on the edges. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

StephanieStephanie is the baker/blogger/babbler behind the blog, Girl Versus Dough, where she writes about her adventures in bread baking and other tasty, unique recipes. Her approach is friendly yet inspiring, down-to-earth yet adventurous. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband, Elliott, her furry child-cat, Percy and a beautiful baby girl, Avery. Keep up with her on Facebook and Twitter

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Stephanie Wise Google: Stephanie Wise
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UPDATE :: Our Policy Regarding Bioengineered Foods (GMOs)

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Health

Dear Friends and Valued Customers:

At Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, Inc. we are proud our brand is associated with quality, integrity, and wholesome goodness.  We know that bioengineered foods are a concern to our customers looking for healthy products, and we share that concern.   Part of our mission to provide the world with healthy whole grain foods includes taking action to keep bioengineered ingredients out of our products.

Producing a healthy product free from bioengineering begins at the ingredient source.  We make specific and detailed inquiries to all of our commodity suppliers regarding their seed source and growing practices. Since as early as 1999, we have required suppliers of food sources known to be at high risk for bioengineering to provide us with documentation certifying they plant only non-bioengineered identity preserved seed.  We now require all of our suppliers to certify their products are produced without bioengineering. We pride ourselves on building relationships with our suppliers and we hold them to high standards.

Our Policy Regarding GMOs | Bob's Red Mill

Over the past two years we have installed an extensive in-house laboratory that allows us to independently test for the presence of bioengineered materials.  Our trained technicians use state-of-the-art PCR technology and German engineered protocols to routinely test every shipment of product known to be at high risk for bioengineering.  Thereafter, we randomly double check our results with additional testing to ensure the accuracy of our protocols.  We pledge our continued commitment to stay at the forefront of the food manufacturing industry to avoid the presence of bioengineered materials.

As part of our continuing efforts to provide wholesome whole grain food, we are proud to announce Bob’s Red Mill’s enrollment in The Non-GMO Project The Non-GMO Project is currently North America’s only independent third-party verification program for products made according to rigorous best practices for the avoidance of genetically modified organisms.  As we work closely with The Non-GMO Project we will obtain Non-GMO Project verification for our products.  We will also use the Non-GMO Project verification mark to inform the public of our products that have attained Non-GMO verified status.

Our participation in the Non-GMO Project is one more way to show our customers around the world that Bob’s Red Mill provides them with pure, wholesome, and healthy products.

Thank you for your ongoing support and continued business.

To Your Good Health,

Bob Moore

President, CEO and Founder

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Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
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National Flour Month: Low Carb Flour Primer {Giveaway}

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Gluten Free, Whole Grains 101

This is our second post in our series on the different flours we produce. Last week, we covered wheat flour, read all about it here.

When you think of Bob’s Red Mill, the words “low carbohydrate” do not often spring to mind. If you took a look at our product line, you might think all we make are carbohydrates, but as anyone who follows a low carb or paleo diet will tell you, we have quite a few low carb options.

Whether you follow a restricted carb diet for health reasons or simply want to lose a few pounds, these flours are essential for  keeping your sanity and enjoying some of the foods you miss the most on a low carb diet. Here are our most popular low carb flours and some ideas for what to do with them.

Almond Meal/Flour: Almonds are notoriously healthy nuts providing a good amount of manganese and vitamin E , as well as a healthy serving of monounsaturated fats in each 1/4 cup serving. Not only do almonds have a healthy boost of protein, they are also very low in carbohydrates and naturally gluten free. Replacing 25% of the flour in your baking with almond meal will add wonderful texture and flavor while reducing the total carbohydrates.  Although it has a lightly sweet flavor, almond meal can also be used in savory applications. Use almond meal in place of bread crumbs in meatballs, or as a coating for chicken and fish. Browse recipes for almond meal here.

Coconut Flour: Organic coconut flour is a delicious, healthy alternative to wheat and other grain flours. Ground from dried, defatted coconut meat, coconut flour is high in fiber and low in digestible carbohydrates. A single 2 Tbsp serving of coconut flour delivers 5 grams of fiber with only 8 grams of carbs. The light coconut flavor allows coconut flour to blend seamlessly into sweet or savory baked goods. It makes a wonderful coating for chicken, fish or other proteins in place of regular flour or cornmeal. Because of its high fiber content, baking with coconut flour is a unique experience. Coconut flour requires an equal ratio of liquid to flour for best results. Coconut flour can replace up to 20% of the flour in a recipe, but you will need to add an equal amount of liquid to compensate.  We recommend following a recipe designed for coconut flour when getting started. Luckily, we have many recipes to experiment with in our recipe section. Coconut flour is unsweetened and does not contain sulfites.

Bob's Red Mill Low Carb Flours: Almond Meal, Coconut Flour, Hazelnut Meal, Soy Flour

Hazelnut Meal/Flour: Bob’s Red Mill Hazelnut Meal is ground from whole Oregon hazelnuts, or filberts. Hazelnuts are often overlooked for their nutritional value, but these healthy nuts provide a good amount of vitamin E and a healthy serving of monounsaturated fats in each 1/4 cup serving. You can replace up to 30% of the flour in your baking with hazelnut meal to add wonderful texture and flavor.  Hazelnut meal will bring a rich, buttery flavor to your baking while adding an enticing aroma that can only come from high quality hazelnuts. Hazelnut meal can be used in savory applications, as well. Use hazelnut meal in place of bread crumbs in meatballs, or as a coating for chicken and fish.  Our hazelnut meal is not blanched. Find recipes for using hazelnut meal.

Soy Flour: Our soy flour is milled from whole, raw soy beans. This flour is a great source of complete protein, as well as a good source of fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. You can replace up to 30% of the flour in your recipe with soy flour. Soy flour is naturally gluten free, however we do not produce it in our gluten free facility. Baked goods made with soy flour tend to brown more quickly, so it is best to use a recipe designed for soy flour or to keep a close eye on your baking when using it. Find recipes for using soy flour here.

millstone

Giveaway

We’d like to give one lucky reader a set of our low carb flours- almond meal, coconut flour, hazelnut meal and soy flour To enter, simply follow the directions in the app below. We’ll pick a winner at random from all who enter by 12:01 am on 03/20/13.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
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nutritionfacts

Natural Flavors *Partially* Demystified

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Health

What’s the deal with “natural flavors” anyway? There’s something that seems inherently unnatural about them. Aren’t “natural flavors” a bit redundant? Shouldn’t the flavor of something already be present without the addition of more flavors? That’s what I’ve been asking myself and I know many of you wonder the same thing. What is in those “natural flavors” anyway and why don’t manufacturers have to list their ingredients?

Natural Flavors as defined by the USDA are, “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolystate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf of similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.” That just clears it up, doesn’t it?

From the above paragraph, I think I understand that a natural flavor can be derived from almost anything, but has not been chemically manufactured. These ingredients are used to enhance the flavor of the food to which they are added. Most often, you find these have been added to processed foods- chips, crackers, boxed meals, canned soups, etc. The FDA does not require companies to list what those natural flavors are derived from and is content with simply stating “Natural Flavor.” I suppose this is to protect a company’s ingredient- the one that makes the food taste like none other, the secret ingredient, if you will.

I don’t know how an ingredient list that states INGREDIENTS: Apple Slices, Water, Cane Syrup, Corn Syrup, Modified Corn Starch, Spices, Salt, Natural Flavor and Artificial Flavor helps anyone. What is the natural flavor that is used here? Am I to infer that the natural flavor is natural apple flavor? It could be anything. I can’t seem to find a single reference to what those natural flavors are made up of to give you any real examples. It could be any combination of ingredients that fall under the USDA definition.

This is why so many people with food allergens and other restricted diets are up in arms and calling for a rewording of the Code of Federal Regulations to require companies to list what makes up these natural flavors.

At Bob’s Red Mill, we refrain from the term “natural flavors” and when we use flavorings, we list the ingredients. For instance, if you see Natural Vanilla Flavor on our label, you will also see “Sugar, Cornstarch, Vanilla Extract.” We think you have a right to know. Now if only the USDA and FDA felt the same way.

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Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
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nutritionfacts

Modified Food Starch Demystified

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Health

Modified Food Starch is made by physically, enzymatically or chemically altering starch to change its inherent properties. In this instance, modified does not necessarily mean genetically modified, however some modified starches are likely made from genetically modified ingredients. Modified starches are typically used in foods for the same reasons as conventional starches—thickening, stabilizing or emulsifying. Some of the properties gained by changing the original starch can include the ability to stand different temperatures (excessive heat, freezing, etc), increase the shelf life of the desired property (for example, it will keep thickening the sauce for a longer time than its conventional counterpart), alter their thickening ability and shorten the thickening time (for example a modified starch may thicken a sauce much faster than its conventional counterpart).

The most common types of modified food starch are made from corn, wheat, potato and tapioca. Typically labels will list the source from which the starch was modified as Modified Corn Starch, however unless it is derived from one of the top eight allergens (in this case wheat), it is not required by law to be listed this way. Most modified starches are gluten free, except for those that use wheat starch as a base. There is some controversy about whether modified wheat starch really does contain gluten, however. Our opinion? Why risk it?

Modified starches are often used in foods that promote themselves as “instant” and in foods that might need a certain temperature to thicken (during cooking or freezing). Think of gravy packets, instant puddings, and those meals that come in a box and require a minimum amount of cooking or simply need boiling water. These days you can find modified starch in almost every processed food. Check the ingredient lists- it’s there.

We hope this helps clear up a little label confusion for you. If you have any more label mysteries that you’d like us to solve, tell us in the comments.

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Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
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Banana Bread2

Banana Flaxseed Quick Bread (V)

by Meagan Nuchols in Featured Articles, Recipes

Known for their healthy omega-3 & 6 fatty acids and ample amount of fiber, flax seeds can be a great addition to any recipe. Whether it’s flavor, crunch, texture or health that concerns you, Bob’s Red Mill Flax Seeds provide what you need. For the month of January all of our flax seed products from organic golden flax seed meal to normal brown flax seeds are on sale. That’s right 20% off in our store and on the website.

In the bakery we use flaxseed meal to top our scratch biscuits, to amplify some breads, and mostly as an egg replacer. When added to a recipe, flaxseed meal will often change the texture of the finished product making it chewier and sometimes a bit dry, if extra moisture isn’t added. Whole flaxseeds are also used in many of our breads including our best seller, 10 Grain. Adding whole flaxseeds to a recipe will also permit a chewier texture, and a delicious crunch. If adding flaxseeds to yeasted bread, we recommend soaking them prior to mixing. This can be done by adding the flaxseeds to the allotted amount of water called for in the recipe. 30 minutes before mixing will suffice, but the longer the soak the better. Similar to all of our grains they are best kept in the fridge or freezer.

The following recipe is a vegan banana bread with an addition of flaxseeds. Try both kinds of flaxseeds, brown and golden, same nutritional value, just different color. This delicious bread is also great with blueberries or your favorite nut. Enjoy and Happy Baking!

Banana Flaxseed Quick Bread

  • 1-¾ cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 cup Light Brown Sugar (packed)
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Cinnamon
  • ¼ cup Flaxseeds
  • ½ cup Safflower Oil (or melted butter)
  • ½ cup Soy Milk
  • 1 cup Banana (mashed)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 2 mini-loaf pans or one regular sized pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
  3. In another bowl mix together the soy milk and oil.
  4. Gradually stir into the dry ingredients, just until incorporated.
  5. Fold in the mashed banana.
  6. Spoon the batter into the pans.
  7. For a regular sized loaf, bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cook the mini-loaves 20-25 minutes.

 

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Meagan Nuchols Google: Meagan Nuchols
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Oatmeal in the Early Morning

Healthy Hot Cereal Ideas

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Health, Recipes

When the weather outside is frightful, a hot bowl of cereal is delightful…

Excuse the cheesiness, but isn’t that the truth? It’s hard to get excited about a cold bowl of miscellaneous flakes when the temperatures are dropping. There is something unappealing about pouring cold milk onto cold cereal when snow is collecting outside. Around here, nothing gets us out of bed on a drizzly day like a hot bowl of our favorite whole grain cereal.

Freezing weather or not, whole grain hot cereal is an ideal way to kick off any day. With the staying power of whole grains, hot cereal can warm you up and keep you going through the morning. The fiber and protein found in our hot cereals keep blood sugar from spiking (and consequently crashing) and help promote healthy digestion.

Truth is, most of us also like a touch of sugar, milk and/or butter with our hot cereal. A little sugar is fine for most of us; try to make the choice to add these things in moderation. We’ve collected some suggestions for taking your hot cereal to the next level of delicious, but still keep your breakfast on the healthy side.

  • Add nut butter (peanut, almond, etc) or an egg to your cereal to boost flavor and protein and really kick start your day with a breakfast that will fuel you until lunch.
  • Add some flaxseed meal, chia seed, hemp seed or pumpkin seed to increase your fiber and omega-3 intake to support a healthy heart.
  • Fresh, frozen or dried fruit also make a great addition to boost flavor and add vitamins and antioxidants.
  • Add a few tablespoons of canned (or fresh) pumpkin for a decadent, holiday-themed breakfast. Pumpkin is loaded with Vitamin A, Potassium, and Zinc, making it a great addition to a whole grain breakfast.
  • Adding a sprinkle of cinnamon to your cereal will aid in stabilizing your blood sugar, not to mention that a little cinnamon can add a big flavor boost.
  • Take it savory! Try this: add shredded cheese, sliced green onions, a dash of salsa and top with an egg for delicious and healthy Mexican dish.

Still want some inspiration? Try one of these recipes for a truly special breakfast.

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Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
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A Messsage from Bob and Charlee Moore Regarding the OHSU Nutrition and Wellness Institute

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Health

Dear Friends,

As many of you may be aware, my wife Charlee and I recently made a commitment to make a donation to Oregon Health & Science University. We have dedicated our lives to improving health throughout the world and our intent in helping OHSU establish a nutrition and wellness institute was to focus on childhood obesity, chronic disease, much of which begins at a very early age — even at conception and in the womb. Our monies are dedicated to support research toward better nutrition, with a particular focus on development in the womb, as well as related education and community outreach. It has come to our attention that some people may be concerned about how our donation is to be used at OHSU and whether any of it will go toward animal research.

I assure you that no part of our donation will be used to fund animal research. It was never our intent that any of our gift be used in that way. We have discussed these concerns with OHSU and reaffirmed their commitment that our donation will only be used to improve nutrition and wellness in a manner consistent with our intent. Here is a link to a statement from Dr. Mark Richardson, who is the Dean of the OHSU School of Medicine (www.ohsu.edu/blogs/news/about/statement/), which confirms OHSU’s commitment to use our donation only as we intended.

We are confident that in working together with OHSU we can have a profound impact on health and wellness for many generations to come, and we thank you for your kind messages.

To your good health,

Bob and Charlee Moore
Founders
Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods

We welcome your feedback and will publish your comments, we only ask you to please keep it civil. We are unable to post any comments that are abusive. 

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Cassidy Stockton Google: Cassidy Stockton
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Late Season Adjustments

by Joan Hanscom in Road Cycling, Train With Grain

So here we are, August.  It’s hot.  Super hot.  Record hot.  My race schedule in July was almost exclusively criteriums – and I raced a bunch of them including an awesomely awesome bunch of fun in Chicago for Superweek and had a total blast with a really great bunch of people and made loads of new friends.  Bike racing is great for that.  Total strangers offering you a place to sleep. So fun.  But, as I mentioned in a previous post, my last remaining goal of the season is Masters Road Nations.   Time to adjust.

With that last, end of season road race looming large and my entry fee paid I’ve got to switch gears and after a month of short, fast and flat, I suddenly find myself faced with the need to be able to race longer distances and uphill.

Up to now, I’ve been working on accelerations, sprints, ability to go hard and fast quickly.  Lots of sprint workouts.  Now it’s all hills, all the time. Eeek!  The course in Bend is not super steep but it’s a course that is going to require power to the pedals the whole time while going uphill and downhill.  This is a wholly different skill set from crit racing. My short two hour weekend rides on non-racing days have crept back up to 3 and 4 hours.  My weekday workouts have changed too.  This week:  one day of repeated long climbs in the saddle at a low cadence to build up climbing leg strength; the next day – short hard efforts 60 seconds seated, 30 seconds standing and accelerating to build some explosiveness on the hills (or in my case, hopefully improve my ability to to go with attacks when they come); then another day of long climbs above threshold with a higher cadence just to improve my overall climbing.    Did I mention lots of climbing?

A funny aside:  I’ve been riding with my friend Tracy Tolson (she of multiple national championship titles) we cheer ourselves up the hills on those bazillion degree, low cadence, leg strengthening days by telling ourselves that it’s making us stronger as we’ve sweltered uphill.  Tracy said, “it’s so you can drop the hammer when you need to…”  I said, “I don’t think I have a hammer, it’s more like a carpet mallet…”  So watch out, I’m gonna drop the mallet on you one of these days….

My eating has changed too.  All summer long I’ve been content to roll with 2-3 extra pounds because, in all honestly, at my ability level it’s not going to make as much as a difference to my racing as smart training. And a cold beer on a hot day is awesome!  But now I want to tighten things up just a little – if for no other reason than in my head I will climb better!  I’ve added more protein to my diet – those longer, strengthening days tear down the muscles more and I need to rebuild.  TVP is great source of non-meaty goodness for that and Bob’s Red Mill TVP burgers are great and tasty especially in the heat when heavy foods really are not so fun.  I’ve upped the fresh fruit and vegetable content even more and well, those delicious oatmeal cookies I love so much will have to wait until September.  With the longer rides back on the schedule I am eating more but I want to make sure it’s all quality, nutrient rich calories that make me feel fit and speedy not heavy and needing a nap. My friends gardens are bursting and I am the lucky beneficiary – fresh squashes, tomatoes, peppers especially – and I’ve been making some awesome whole wheat pastas with sauteed fresh vegetables too.  I love this time of year!

Onward and upward (and upward and downward and upward…..)

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Joan Hanscom Google: Joan Hanscom
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water

Hydration Tips: Cycling

by Mark Swartzendruber in Road Cycling, Train With Grain

I could get very scientific and write to you about mitochondria, electrolyte uptake, and homeostasis.  But, as a wise person once told me, just because you “can” doesn’t mean you “should”.  Besides which, I am a layman, not a physiologist so I don’t have the initials after my name to be taken seriously if I were to attempt to bore you with the science of hydration.

With that I will keep this simple and to the point.  DRINK PLENTY OF NON ALCOHOLIC FLUID WHEN YOU TRAIN.  Are we clear?

Listen, your body is roughly two-thirds water.  When you exercise, your body releases a lot of that water to keep you cool both inside and out.  If you don’t replace the fluid that your body releases in the form of sweat and vapor (as you exhale) very bad things will happen.

Several years ago, I had a brain fart and decided that I needed to do back to back 50k time trials on a hot day in July.  I don’t generally take a water bottle with me when I time trial as it’s virtually impossible to dehydrate in an hour or so.  Thus, I normally drink plenty of water and sport drinks ahead of time and I’m fine.  That is to say, if I were only doing a single event.  This particular day was very warm and humid and I was sweating prolifically during the first time trial.  Before the second time trial, I rushed back to my car and drank a bottle of water that I had waiting for me but it wasn’t nearly enough.  A sweating athlete should consume about 24 oz of liquid per hour of exercise.  I was at about half that level and sure enough, about 20k into the second time trial, the dehydration cramps set in…badly.  Every pedal stroke was greeted with cramps that shot from knee to pelvis along the groin of both legs.  To make matters worse, I didn’t have a water bottle on board.  Needless to say, it got worse from there. Eventually I was even cramping in my intercostals (muscles between the ribs). The time trial was a complete flail.

But – not only did my negligence of proper hydration ruin that time trial, the damage that I did to my body that day stayed with me throughout the remainder of the season.  Whenever I needed to make a hard effort in a race or if I raced in temperatures over the mid 80’s my body would reject the notion.  Shut down.  I couldn’t get my heart rate elevated and my functional threshold was effectively about 30% diminished.  I had to call an early end to the season to recover from what I had done to myself.

Water or Sport drinks?

Your muscles and connective tissues are stimulated by electrical impulses.  Without adequate electrolytes (calcium, potassium, magnesium) you will either function below optimum level (be slow) or malfunction all together (cramps).  So, it’s a good idea to find a sport drink with electrolytes to keep you going.  That said, too much of a good thing will give you some pretty nasty side effects.  Remember – electrolytes are also used in laxatives.  Over do it with the electrolytes and you’ll be facing some pretty severe stomach and gastrointestinal distress.  Not pretty.

Personally, if I’m carrying two bottles on my bike during a race, one is a sport drink and the other is plain water.  Some racers prefer to carry two bottles of diluted sport drink.  You’ll need to find what works best for your body and stick with it.  I’ve found that some brands of sport drink mix that my team mates swear by give me an upset stomach. You may experience this as well.  Don’t believe all the hyperbole tossed out by the marketing departments about the efficacy of one brand over the others.  The real benefit of sport drinks are that they contain WATER with some electrolytes and pretty much all of them do.  If you’re well hydrated, you will race better regardless of the brand of sport drink you end up using.

I’ll conclude with a few bullet points

  • Your body is roughly 2/3 water.  Replace that fluid when you sweat
  • Your muscles need adequate amounts of potassium, magnesium and calcium to properly react to the electrical impulses sent by your brain through your nervous system.  You lose electrolytes when you sweat.  Replace those electrolytes.
  • Don’t over do it with the electrolytes – Most laxatives are simply “overdoses” of electrolytes
  • 20-24 oz of fluid needs to be replaced per hour when you’re sweating.  This of course will fluctuate with weather but even in the winter, you need to maintain proper hydration.
  • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to begin drinking.
  • Get into the habit of maintaining proper hydration throughout the day, not just when you’re training or competing

Good luck!

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Mark Swartzendruber Google: Mark Swartzendruber
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