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If you don’t race, you may wonder whether you would benefit from using a power meter. But a power meter can be an effective tool to help with a goal that isn’t strictly related to racing: weight loss.
What’s more, the learning curve required to use it for that purpose is a lot simpler than for training. At the heart of a power meter’s data is a value called the kilojoule (often abbreviated as kJ). A joule is a measure of energy, or work, like a calorie. There are roughly four kJs per food calorie. But, says Allen Lim, a physiologist, cookbook author, and founder of energy food company Skratch Labs, “the human body is only 20- to 25-percent efficient at transferring energy to work; the rest gets lost as heat.”
If it’s January, you can bet someone is telling you what you should and should not be eating. This year that includes the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, who once again have issued a raft of guidelines aimed at telling Americans what to eat. There weren’t any big surprises this time around. Fruits, vegetables and whole grainsare still good for you. Processed junk is bad. But there were some highlights worth noting, as well as a few cases where you might want to take the recommendations with a, um, grain of salt.
“For very active cyclists it’s the tale of two lives,” says Stanford-based sports nutritionist and physiologist Stacy Sims, PhD, explaining that following the guidelines is pretty prudent off the bike, no matter how active you are. But behind those bars? Sometimes you need to break “the rules.” Here are the highlights and what it means for you.
Slash Sugar Intake Dramatically: Dietary sugar—especially the added, nutritionally empty kind found in sodas, sweets, dressings, cereals, and well, pretty much everywhere in the processed food world—is the big story of the new guidelines. Americans today consume about 88 grams or 22 teaspoons a day of the sweet stuff. The new guidelines urge less than 10 percent of your calories from added (not naturally occurring sugar found in whole food) sugar. That’s about 49 grams or 12 to 13 teaspoons for a 2,000-calorie a day diet.
To put that in perspective, consider that there are 4 grams of sugar in every teaspoon/cube and that there are 4 calories per gram, so you get 16 calories with every teaspoon. Twelve ounces of Gatorade delivers 21 grams, 5 teaspoons, and 84 calories of sugar—nearly half the daily limit and it doesn’t even fill the average cycling water bottle. Let’s say you’re very active and eat 3000 calories a day. A full 24-oz bike bottle of Gatorade still takes you over half the daily recommendation at 42 grams/10 ½ teaspoons and 170 calories. That’s not to say you shouldn’t drink sports drinks any longer, but it’s a wake up call to be more mindful of how much sugar you’re slurping down, especially since that doesn’t count gels, blocks, bars, and other sports foods, which are also loaded with sugar.
“In general, a diet low in sugar is the way to go regardless of how active you are,” says Sims. “But training food is different. There are times you need more carbs/sugar to keep pace.” Generally, if you’re doing a short or low-intensity ride, you don’t need a lot of added sugar to keep going. Put a banana in your pocket and water or low-carb drink in your bottles and go. When you’re going hard and tapping out your glycogen stores, you’re going to need that added sugar to keep the hammer down. For most rides, whole food snacks and low-carb drinks do the trick.
3-Egg Omelets are A-Ok: The longstanding cholesterol limits have been kicked to the curb. This one’s been in the works for years as the connection between the cholesterol you eat and the amount of the artery-clogging LDL cholesterol floating in your bloodstream never really materialized. This is great news for cyclists who need plenty of high quality, easy-to-digest, accessible (and when you hard-boil them, portable) protein to keep their muscles mended and ready to ride. Enjoy those eggs guilt free. Ditto for shrimp and other shellfish.
That Bacon Hand-up is Alright, but Expand Your Protein Horizons: Speaking of protein, the government didn’t come out and say you should put the brakes on red meat or even processed meats (ahem, bacon), but it did mention that those foods have been linked to an increased heart disease and/or cancer risk, so you should expand your protein palate to include a variety of protein foods, including seafood (the guidelines recommend 8 ounces a week), lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products.
Interestingly, they also called out men and teenage boys for eating too much protein. Cyclists definitely need their fair share, but this serves as a reminder that you can get too much of a good thing. In general, aim for about 30% of your daily calories in the form of protein, or 0.8 grams per pound of body weight if you’re very active. That’s 132 to 150 grams for a 165 male cyclist eating 2,000 calories a day.
Make it a Doppio!: In case you needed the government’s approval for your java jones, you now have it. The new guidelines give the green light for up to 5 cups of coffee a day. Coffee is a big source of antioxidants for most Americans. It’s also been linked to a reduced risk for Type 2 diabetes.
Sodium is Still in the Spotlight: The government hasn’t lightened up its limits on how much sodium you should eat, despite a fair amount of conflicting evidence on just how bad (or not) a lot of salt is for you. One analysis that included more than 25 studies of more than 274,000 people published in the American Journal of Hypertension found that people who consume in range of between 2,645 and 4,945 milligrams of sodium a day (which is about what the world’s population gets) had a lower risk of death than those who regularly took in much higher or lower amounts. The issue seems to be that some people are particularly salt-sensitive and experience blood pressure problems with high amounts, so if your doctor has specifically put limits on your sodium intake, you’re wise to heed that advice (and of course if your sodium is coming in the form of a steady diet of fried mozzarella sticks, pizza, and potato chips, you could stand to reduce it via eating less of those foods). But many people are not sodium-sensitive and active cyclists who sweat a lot need their fair share, especially for long rides in the heat. In those situations, guidelines go out the window. A good rule of thumb is to consume between 500 and 700 milligrams per hour, which is about how much you can absorb within that time.
Fat is (Mostly) Fine: Finally, low fat diets have officially gone the way of the dinosaur…sort of. Though there is no longer a ceiling on total daily fat intake, the Dietary Guidelines kept a cap on saturated fats to no more than 10 percent of daily calories per day, despite recent research challenging the assertion that this type of fat is inherently bad for you. The commonsense takeaway for cyclists here is the same as it is for everyone: Eat a balanced diet with lots of whole vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and a variety of protein sources. Limit processed foods, especially snacks and sweets, and the rest should take care of itself.
Although SRAM has steadily trickled down the technology from its top-of-the-line, XX1 one-by-eleven (1x11) mountain group since 2012, a 1x drivetrain—a single chainring with a wide-range cassette to provide a similar gear range to a 2x system—was still a premium offering unless you wanted to hack it with a conversion kit. But when SRAM released its GX group last spring, it slashed the minimum buy-in to $564, and as low as $3,500 for a complete bike with GX. And just like that, more of us could dream of one day owning a clean-looking bike with simpler shifting and more handlebar real estate.
GX is almost identical to SRAM's higher-end X1 and X01 groups, primarily differing in materials and manufacturing. The biggest saving: The X01 and XX1 10-42 cassettes are machined from a single piece of steel, while the GX version is held together by stainless steel pins. More affordable materials are also used in the crankset, crankarms, chain, and the derailleur—which otherwise share the same features as their X1/X01 counterparts. The weight penalty: 221 grams over the $1,335 X01 group.
Tested on my Scott Contessa Genius 710, GX shifting felt clean and responded to the same light, quick touch as its premium counterparts. When the terrain really undulated and I was toggling gears often, the shifting was just slightly less refined compared with the X1/X01-equipped bike I'd also been recently riding. But GX was still accurate and reliable, and I could swiftly dump two to three gears when needed. Thederailleur is designed to keep the chain taut and quiet, and it does, and the chainring's alternating narrow and wide teeth prevent chain drop. GX is compatible with SRAM's higher-end 1x11 groups so you can save on replacement parts. And it's also available as a 2x with the 10-42 cassettefor a monstrous gear range.
I recently lent the GX bike to another editor. Afterward, I asked for her impression of the shifting. She shrugged, "It was good. I never would have thought about it if you hadn't asked." Changing gears on the trail should always be such a nonissue. And now it can be for more of us.
Maybe it was the vitriol coming from media and cycling fans, or maybe the wayward bottle that Vincenzo Nibali totally didn’t throw at him. More likely it was a combination of it all. Regardless, this was the year Chris Froome dropped the nice-guy routine.
After stage 6 of this year’s Tour de France, it was clear we were dealing with a different Froome. That’s when, after feeling that Nibali had flung a bidon at him, he rode to the Astana team bus, handed his bike to a staffer, and forced his way on to confront the Italian. Later in the race, when Froome got in Nibali’s face over what he felt was an unsportsmanlike attack in stage 19, Nibali told reporters, “I don’t deserve the words he said. They are too hard, and not right to say.”
Froome addressed his tougher demeanor during a Tour press conference. “I try to be as polite as possible,” he said. “But don’t take that for weakness. Don’t take that as you can push me around, or that you can get away with disrespecting me or my teammates. I will stand up for what I believe in.”
Froome had to stand up to more than just Nibali. For starters, there was what was widely accepted to be one of the most brutal Tour routes in recent memory. He had even suggested he might skip it, as he felt it was too heavy on climbs and too light on time trials. But instead, he deemphasized time trialing and doubled down on his climbing skills, which he unleashed with an attack on stage 10 to La Pierre-Saint-Martin that rendered fellow pre-race favorites like Nibali, Nairo Quintana, and Alberto Contador little more than collateral damage.
So dominant was his stage 10 ride, Froome’s Team Sky released his power data in hopes of silencing the critics. It didn’t work. From that point on, Froome became the focal point of countless people’s frustrations with pro cycling. “Experts” presented his power data as evidence of doping. The masses on Twitter found new ways to cram accusations into 140 characters. And roadside spectators in France went from annoying (shouting “doper” in Froome’s ear) to gross (spitting on him) to grosser (hurling urine at him).
He withstood it all and won. So go ahead and make fun of his form on the bike, just don’t do it to his face. As Froome showed us this year, he’s one tough dude.
Honorable mention: Fabian Cancellara
If Chris Froome has the figurative backbone of the year, Fabian Cancellara has the actual one. His summertime return from a broken back was derailed when he went over the handlebars at the Tour — while wearing yellow — and broke his back. One broken back in a lifetime would convince most of us to take it easy. A second one would have us taking up quilting. But Spartacus was back racing at the Vuelta, before a virus put an end to his season. Here’s hoping he finds a way in his final pro season to make all the pain worthwhile.
Read more at http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/road/2015-velo-awards-chris-froomes-got-backbone_391626#owuuXomoB1BIvua4.99