It’s no secret that food is fuel. Kristen Arnold has written many pieces giving excellent nutrition advice on how to fuel exercise and an active lifestyle. If you want to nail your workout, recover like a Pro, and keep making improvements, it's imperative that you take in enough nutrition. But did you know that flavors can make you fast?
First of all, let’s talk a bit about the science behind flavor. Flavor, aroma, and taste are not interchangeable and often get confused. It’s also important to know that humans have five basic senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste. Taste is composed of sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savory (also referred to as Umami) qualities, and texture. For example, sour is a taste while lime is a sour flavor. Aroma is a smell detected by our noses and sensed by the part of the brain that deals with emotions, behavior, motivation, and long term memory.
If you are an endurance athlete, you are likely taking in calories every 30-45 minutes. Flavor and texture play an important role. Have you ever made it three hours into a five hour ride and despised the thought of eating ANOTHER [insert flavor here] gel or bar? That is called flavor fatigue! It has been found that flavor fatigue usually occurs first with sweet flavors. Next time you are on a long ride, try bringing some bitter or salty flavors along for when your palette gets fatigued from the sweeter flavors!
Another way flavors can you make you fast is by triggering an emotional response. Think about Pumpkin Spice flavored-everything during the fall. It's meant to make you feel warm and cozy as the leaves change and the weather cools off. If it is summertime, over 100 degrees, and you smell a Pumpkin Spice candle, you very well may come up with images of red leaves falling from trees and your favorite scarf! With that said, you can choose flavors that make you feel “happy.” For me, I always save a Birthday Cake-flavored gel for when I really need the mental boost! What’s your favorite “happy” flavor?
If you are interested in learning more, you can watch a recorded discussion with myself and three other athletes HERE.
About the Author:Nikki Peterson M.Ed. is a record-holding collegiate cross country and track & field runner turned UCI Professional mountain biker. She holds a bachelors in B.S. Human Food and Nutrition (Dietetics), University of Wyoming and a M.A. Education and Teaching, Alliant International University. She co-founded KS Kenda Women’s Elite MTB, is the Program Coordinator for SoCal NICA, and serves as the Vice Chair on the Advisory Council for the California Mountain Biking Coalition. Nikki believes that the key to reaching goals on the bike lies in keeping riding fun while pushing limits. She thrives in helping clients reach their full potential while juggling life’s demands. Learn more about Nikki and Source Endurance.