by Madeleine Kelly
The old saying goes, “If the furnace is hot enough, anything will burn.” It’s often used to imply that when someone is burning a lot of calories, they can eat whatever they want.
While this saying is accurate from a calories in vs. calories out standpoint, it’s not accurate when considering the nutritional benefit of the food you’re eating.
Cyclists eat a lot, and eating a lot can become expensive. Buying organic and branded “health foods” can seem like an expense that an athlete can’t afford – so they turn to eating anything, as opposed to eating well.
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According to a British Medical Journal study done by Mayuree Rao of Harvard University, highly processed foods have become, on average, cheaper than healthier options like fruits and vegetables. The study found that eating a “healthy” diet of fruit, vegetables and minimally processed food cost roughly $1.50 more per day than eating an “unhealthy” diet of processed foods and refined grains.
Considering the rising prices of nutrient-rich food, here are three tips and tricks to help cyclists eat well without breaking the bank.
1. Buy in season.
In-season fruits and vegetables will always be cheaper than out of season. If you’re looking for something out of season, try the frozen aisle. Frozen vegetables are significantly cheaper and are as nutritious as fresh produce. The only caveat is sodium content. Some frozen and canned foods have lots of added sodium, but this isn’t the case for every brand. It’s always good to double check nutrition labels and ingredient lists.
2. Buy in bulk.
Purchasing grains, nuts and seeds in bulk is a great way to spend less while still eating your favourite foods. Products like oats, rice, quinoa, barley, nuts and dried fruit are easily picked up at your local bulk store. Making your own trail mix is also a great snack and allows for customization, so you get exactly what you’re looking for.
3. Try a few vegetable-based meals a week.
The biggest discrepancy in price is found in meats and sources of protein. In this category, healthy options rang in around $0.29 more per serving than less healthy options. Consider adding a few vegetarian recipes to your weekly routine to save some money and learn how to cook something new. Legumes, eggs and tofu are three vegetarian options that are high in nutrients, and low in price. Give the cauliflower bolognese, white bean kale salad, or roasted red pepper pasta a try.
A version of this article first appeared at runningmagazine.ca.