Credit Munch



Emma Silversides is a professional road racer based in Belgium, riding for Red Sun cycle team, she spends her life on the bike and knows a thing or two about riding and racing in the fast lane. She’ll be writing regular updates from the world of racing in Belgium, the low down on being on a pro-team and sharing a house with other pro-riders.


In her first article she shares her take on energy supplements and how she’s beating the credit crunch….one calorie at a time!


Emma Silversides

Photo thanks to Krist Vanmelle


Feeling the bite of the credit crunch?  Consumerism taken over with a new bike; new clothing; shoes; or shades?  I suspect that the wallet is no longer bulging with last month’s pay check and that you are, in fact, counting the pennies in the hope that they will stretch until this month’s wage.  However, it is most definitely necessary with all this new kit, to train, and, of course, fuel your training to produce a performance which justifies the initial expense!


The market is swamped with it; energy drinks, snack bars, gels, recovery drinks… But with a little thought, planning and preparation you can be fully fuelled, suitably sustained and rightfully recharged, without having to buy the powders, chewy bars and energy drinks that are spilling over on the shelves.


It is no secret that to get the best from your training you will need to take on board carbohydrate rich food before you start, continually top up your tank during the session with fast acting sugars and, finally, consume sufficient protein and carbohydrate to replace depleted glycogen stores and assist the repairing of the muscles ready for the next session.  Alongside all this you must never forget the fluids and essential minerals.  I hope to give you some pre and post training energy solutions, as well as possibilities for during the training, which will not see you parting with money that could be better spent on equipment. I will also go so far as to suggest that your bank balance is not the only beneficiary here, think about the bigger picture - no waste of bar wrappers, plastic bottles or tubs! 





While contemplating foods, you must remember that this is really an endless circle; you should be considering your training fuel for your coming session from the minute you finish your current one.  So long as you have been consuming sufficient carbohydrates (pasta, breads, rice etc) to fuel your muscles with the necessary glycogen they require to serve you, then your pre-training snack can be relatively small and light on your stomach.  Try a handful of raisins, a Poptart, a banana or rice cakes with honey/jam.  The key here is that the food contains relatively fast acting sugars without fat (the digestion of fat is much more complex and lengthy - not ideal before training).  The closer to the session you consume it, the lighter/smaller it should be.  If you plan a long exercise session then consider taking in a little protein to keep your hunger at bay. Fat-free yogurt is ideal, or maybe a little cereal with fat free milk.  Your hydration should similarly be a continual process, so don’t be gulping down a litre of water 30 minutes before you train! Take on fluids regularly.



During the exercise


Think fast sugars here, steering clear of fat again. Jelly babies, fat-free brownies (substitute a banana and ½ cup of fat free yoghurt for eggs and oil) and jam sandwiches are all ideal options. The packaging for all these can be foil or a plastic bag to be taken home and re-used. The ultimate snack has to be a banana.  In its own biodegradable packaging, it provides fast sugars (make sure it is ripe enough, with black spots beginning to appear!) as well as adding vitamin B6, folate, potassium, magnesium and vitamin C to its list of ‘contents’, but conveniently omitting fat!

It is desirable to be consuming small amounts of fluids at regular intervals. Below are two possible recipes for homemade energy drinks.



Formula 1

  • 10 tablespoons sugar (120 grams)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (4.2 grams)
  • Unsweetened squash/cordial for flavour
  • Water to make 2 litres


Formula 2

  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (not concentrate) or 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 to 4 cups cold water 1. In the bottom of a jug, dissolve the sugar and salt in the hot water.
    • 1. In the bottom of a jug, dissolve the sugar and salt in the hot water.
    • 2. Add the juice and the remaining water; chill.
  • Makes: just under 1 litre


These recipes are naturally flexible, so play around with them to make your own flavours.  However, do not doubt that they are a more than satisfactory alternative to a shop-bought version. To demonstrate this, there is a table below detailing the quantities of key elements of these two possible formulas, alongside the equivalent values for Gatorade. All values are per 8oz (236ml) serving.





Formula 1

Formula 2



















Your body will eliminate excess potassium, though some experts believe that high levels of this mineral help to minimize muscle cramps - and hypertension if taken long term. 





Get this one right and you will certainly be at your best for your next training. It needs to be a combination of both protein and carbohydrates; this is often overlooked by many of the drinks on the market that claim to re-fuel, they too often provide the carbohydrates without the proteins, or vice-versa. If you can be home quickly from your training one of the best options is a bowl of Shredded Wheat with skimmed milk. Milk boasts a long list of amino acids making it a perfect post-exercise source of protein.


If you are dashing from training to another venue grab a banana or some mixed dried fruit and nuts (almonds preferably) and a skimmed chocolate milk drink. You can make this yourself in a shaker with skimmed milk, Cocoa powder and powdered sugar.


For those who prefer fluids to solids try pre-preparing a smoothie with a combination of fat-free yoghurt, milk and fruit (bananas, cranberries, pineapple…), sweetened with a little honey.


So get to it, no more time wasted pouring over the nutritional values of bars or drink mixes; you have your own concoctions and without a long list of additives, E-numbers and baffling ingredients they are going to do exactly the same as the rather more costly shop bought options.




Sources: Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition 2009,

Cereal and skimmed milk support muscle recovery following exercise

Lynne Kammer, Zhenping Ding, Bei Wang, Daiske Hara, Yi-Hung Liao and John L Ivy

Exercise Physiology and Metabolism Laboratory Department of Kinesiology and Health Education The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA


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