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7 Nutrition and Hydration Hacks for Mountain Bikers

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Keeping food in your body while you go on rides is important to keep from cramping and to keep enough power in the engine to get through the ride. However, buying goos, bars, bloks and other related biking nutrition items can start to get costly on the budget for riders that want to get out several times a week to get their dirt fix. With a box of Bloks coming in at 25 bucks and sometimes even more for other items, riding nutrition can start to become more expensive than the parts themselves!

7 Cheap Nutrition Sources for Mountain Bikers

The trick…finding items that you can get cheaply with close to the same result as biking specific items that cost 6 times as much. The following list of food are nutrition items that I have found to help on the trail and are extremely cheap.

Honey Packets for Mountain Biking

1. Honey Packets – FREE

Honey packets are known as the poor mountain bikers goos. With a great source of pure sugar and other random nutrients, honey packets can get you up and over the fitness hurdle without costing you a dime. They fit easily in your pack just like a goo and they bring the same pick me up. All you have to do is pick up a handful next time you are at a fast food restaurant or your local coffee shop.

PAYDAY Candy Bar for Mountain Bikers

2. PAYDAY Candy Bars – $1.00 to $2.00

PAYDAY candy bars have the calories, sugar push and protein from the nuts that your body is begging for on the trail. 1/3 of a King Size PAYDAY has 75mg of sodium, 16g of carbs, 120g of potassium and 12g of sugars. While I wouldn’t recommend eating them as a regular snack as you are sitting around the couch…a PAYDAY has a lot of essential fuel while you are out on the trail. Also, since it is not wrapped in chocolate like other candy bars (like a Snickers would be), it will not melt in your pack during the warmer riding months. As a bonus, they taste good too. Some energy bars taste like chalk.

Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwich for Mountain Bikers

3. Peanut Butter and Honey or Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwhiches – est. $0.50/ea

I have had one of these sandwiches save me several times on epic rides. The peanut butter has the calories and protein you are looking for while the honey adds some taste and a little sugar jolt and other nutrients (like I mentioned above) to get you moving quickly. Throw one of these light options in a plastic bag and in your pack.

If you are not into honey, jelly will do just about the same. The little kid in me loves when the honey hardens with the bread so I typically go that route. You can also wrap these in burrito wraps if you do not like the bread soaking up the jelly or honey.

Small pro tip: If you like to bring bananas on a ride but hate how they can get squished, cut them up and put them in your sandwich for the extra potassium.

Gatorade for Mountain Biking

4. Gatorade – Around $1.00

I have a hard time buying really expensive riding drinks when I can get most of what I need out of Gatorade. With sugar, salt and electrolytes, Gatorade in an extra bottle is my reserve on longer rides. I do not put Gatorade in my hydration packs. I find that even the ones that are easy to clean still run into issues. You will always find mine as a emergency reserve in a bottle on the frame of my bike or in my hydration pack.

Smart Water in Hydration Packs

5. Smart Water or Other Electrolyte Water – $1.00 to $2.00

During a ride, I crave water. I tried for a long time to like the powders that go into your hydration pack to add electrolytes and other nutrients but I find the ones even with a mild taste too much out on the trail. The workout supplement powders have also started going up in price and can get to be pretty expensive if you are riding a lot.

If I am going on a long ride in the mountains, I will typically stop at a gas station and fill my hydration pack with Smart Water or something similar. While it is more expensive than free water at home, it is cheaper than most powders and it tastes like regular water. This is also when I pick up the Gatorade for my bottle and some honey/mustard packets if I am out of them.

Beef Jerky for Mountain Bikers

6. Beef Jerky – $5.00 to $10.00

At around 5 bucks at your local gas station, this is the most expensive item on the list, but beef jerky is a great source of salt and protein on a ride. I like to get the small pieces to make them easier to carry and eat out on the trail. Your body really loves the salt and protein in a lean form and they are not too filling out on the trail.

While this one is more expensive…I do include it because I happen to like beef jerky. If you want to be a lot more budget conscious on this item and you like grilling…you can actually make your own that might even taste better for a lot cheeper.

Mustard Packets for Cramps while Mountain Biking

7. Mustard Packets or Pickle Juice – Free

For some odd reason, mustard packets prevents cramps. There is a lot of speculation out there on why this is the case. Some say it is because of the sodium and potassium in mustard that relieves the cramps. I saw another study that suggested that it is the tumeric that relaxes your muscles in the even you start cramping.

There are even others that say that mustard activates sensors in the back of your throat. Specifically, molecules called isothiocyanates in mustard are thought to cause this activation. As a result, a signal is sent out in your body that prevents the nerves in your muscles from becoming overly excited and causing muscles to cramp.

Whatever the reason may be…mustard has shown to get rid of a cramp if you are experiencing one so I carry several of the free packets you find at restaurants in my pack. They have worked in the past so I’ll continue to carry them.

Post Ride Drinks

Now you get done with your ride you can finish of with a cheap, light beer to stay hydrated. Yeah right…who would want to do that?! There are things to save your money on in life and beer is not one of them.

What other unconventional nutrition sources do you use on rides?

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Robert November 8, 2020 - 6:05 am

The look on your face after the mustard packet was priceless…..

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