Chandigarh, A cycling friendly city

“Ride as much or as little, or as long or as short as you feel. But ride.” (Eddy Merckx, Greatest Professional Cyclist ever)

You might know that Chandigarh has the highest per capita ownership of motorized vehicles in the country, but if you belong to a place outside of Chandigarh it might come as a surprise to you that the city beautiful was originally planned to be a cyclists’ heaven. The wide roads, tree laden streets, separate service lanes which later were extended into dedicated cycle lanes are all testimony to the fact that the city was envisioned as a cycle friendly city. Going around the various monuments in Chandigarh, one always notices that they are more dedicated towards non-motorized modes of transport rather than the other way around.  No wonder legends such as Kapil Dev and Milkha Singh have always commented how this city is perfect for cycling their way around.

Fun Fact: Charles-Edouard Jeanneret (Popularly known as Le Corbusier) and his Cousin Pierre Jeanneret would often be seen cycling around the city while they were planning the structure, layout and architecture of Chandigarh. No wonder, this shows clearly in the way the city was planned.

Originally, Chandigarh had the 7Vs system of roads, with the 7th, V7 type of roads being brought in later to further facilitate the easy movement of cyclists and pedestrians around town. Later on, V8 system of roads was also introduced. These were specific tracks that cut across green belts, enabling cyclists to take in the beauty of the city and stare in awe at the huge expanse of greenery around them!  This was a small introduction to how humans envisaged the city and its layout, now let’s talk about the way nature assisted the architects’ vision. Chandigarh is at the foothills of the Shivalik range of hills, which gifts the city with a great weather and clean air throughout the year. These points aid cyclists to have a spin around the city and not risk their health too. Morni, TimberTrail are favorite spots for enthusiasts in the region! A trip over the weekend towards these places will surely make you see Cyclists, all padded and kitted up, enjoying their dose of rush and adrenalin on their favorite set of wheels! And, if you are really lucky, you could even see Dietitian Shreya having a spin on her cycle as well! She and her family are huge fitness and cycling enthusiasts and can be spotted cycling around the streets of the city beautiful. Another fun fact about the city and its Cycle friendly nature is that the original master plan had designs and provisions for around 200kms of cycle tracks. Over the period of years this was slowed down but recent years have seen a resurgence with more than 70 kms of dedicated cycle tracks being laid out along with proper markings and traffic regulations.  All of this has aided the residents to lead a healthy and fit lifestyle. Cycling not only lets you stay healthy and fit, but also assists in weight loss and gaining a balanced body.

 But talking about cycling and being fit and healthy, we also need to touch upon a very important topic and that is the essential where it all boils down to. Cycling has been called as fodder to the soul, tonic to the health and one of the best ways to elevate our mood and to stay fit and healthy! But what is really essential is that the health and nutritional intake of the person cycling should be perfectly balanced so as to enable them to enjoy it and fully intake the benefits of Cycling!

 Cycling as any other sport or fitness activity requires a balanced and nutritious diet and here, we shall be touching upon everything nutrition related. What to eat before you set out for a spin, what to consume during the time you are cycling and also what to intake after you are done with your routine.

Your eating routine prior to cycling is what is really matters. This pre conditions your body to go about the cycling that you have planned and also pre defines the amount of time you will be able to pedal and also if your body will derive any real benefits from the time you spend doing it. Let’s start with the basics of what to do and what not to before pedaling your way to good health. Cycling burns around 250 to 450 calories per hour depending on the pace you take. So, maintaining a balance is essential.

  • Do Not indulge in heavy eating before you set out to cycle. Heavy meals and cycling should have a gap of at least 2-4 hours before starting. If you have eaten light, still give it a time of at least 45 minutes to 1.5 hours to settle down before hitting the road
  • Never Ever cycle on an empty stomach. The body will need nutrition, and if not provided, this could lead to essential stored nutrition being used for the strenuous activity which will leave you feeling weaker and more tired than usual.
  • Carbohydrates and Proteins are the key words for a healthy session of cycling. Having something rich in Carbs and Proteins will assist you a long way in being able to enjoy the process. Also,these help in decreasing the risk of muscle damage which could be an impediment in the path of you enjoying your session to the max. An important thing to note is that our body doesn’t keep high reserves of Carbs so it is really important to keep refueling it with Carb rich foods.(Consult your Dietitian to know more about your body’s Carb and Protein Requirements)
  • Foods rich in Polyunsaturated Fats (Omega 3, Omega 6 fats) help a lot too. These help in muscle building so make sure to involve them too. Keep a steady inflow of minerals and vitamins too as not only will these help you build a better physique inside out, but will also help in cell and muscle repair.
  • Keeping in mind the above points, you could indulge in healthy smoothies, Scrambled Omelet, Buckwheat Pancakes, Oats, Bananas and Energy bars too. For those of us who can’t keep their taste buds in check, Pasta or Peanut Butter Sandwich would be good too!
  • Avoid Spicy foods before setting out. It would help if you don’t consume foods that are excessively rich in fiber and fatty content. Alcohol is a big No too. You don’t want to ”not” see the bump, broken patch or traffic coming towards you obviously!

While Cycling it is really important to keep the body well hydrated, but not overhydrated or that might make you feel bloated.

  • Water is really essential but one could always keep energy drinks with them.
  • Another alternative is Electrolyte Drinks (as they contain Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium) and Glucose Drinks.
  • Keeping an energy nutritional bar handy is a good idea too.

Now coming to the part that is the most important of any physical activity. What to consume after the session has concluded because this would basically define how much benefits your body retains after your cycling time has ended. Many Cyclists tend to overeat after stopping. Beware, your body won’t take too kindly to the excess you feed it especially after it has been trying to adjust to all the strenuous activity it has just undergone. Balanced eating and correct eating are the keywords so let’s see what can we indulge in after a cycling session.

  • Muscles and ligaments tend to take a beating while we cycle irrespective of whether we involved in hard cycling or just light pedaling. So, it’s really important to consume things that would aid in their repair as well.
  • A lot of sweat is lost while cycling, so the first and foremost thing to do is to rehydrate our body. As discussed above, H2O and other Electrolyte drinks would do wonders for the purpose.
  • Avoid added Sugars altogether.
  • Omega 3 rich foods and Natural Cherry Juices help a lot in the repair process as well.
  • Eat a Nutritional meal preferably with 1.5 to 2 hours after your session has ended.
  • Rice, Chicken, Eggs, Tofu, Soy Protein Drinks, Beans, Sweet Potato and Milk drinks are some of the things you can always have.

At the end it is imperative to note that each person’s body and dietary requirements are different so a general Pre and Post Cycling Diet tip won’t always have the differences you need. A Clinical Nutritionist/Dietitian would be a more suitable source to get your pre/post cycling Diet Charts since they would know your body better and how to strike the perfect balance between the calories burnt and the nutrients needed by you for a fitter you!

For your own personalized Cycling/Workout based Diet Plans, feel free to reach out to us here at Dietitian Shreya’s Family Diet Clinic.

Waiting to hear from you, Till then, Happy Cycling!!!

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