Nutrition: Fuelling Right - In Praise of Porridge

Advice on best-practice sports nutrition is constantly evolving and adapting. Take on-the-bike nutrition: in the distant past, Tour de France riders could be seen fuelling with wine and pastries! Nowadays, that is more likely to be gels and sports drinks. Although, recent research suggests that pistachios and rice cakes could be the real winner...

Interestingly though, there is one line of thought on sports nutrition that has remained quite constant through time... porridge! It seems that the importance of fuelling up on complex carbohydrates pre-event, has long been recognised. It also seems that popular opinion on the king of pre-ride fuels, has remained constant over time: porridge still tops the rankings.

Porridge has become quite a 'trendy' breakfast in recent years, and with good reason. A bowlful is packed full of low-GI carbohydrates, protein and dietary fibre. It's a nutritional combination that will keep you feeling fuller and fuelled better, for longer. Cyclists have long known these benefits it seems, and whether you're a seasoned pro or a newbie amateur, a bowl of oats is still touted as the best pre-ride fuelling strategy. Porridge powers remains the best!

Pimp Your Porridge

Here's the thing though... porridge can be a bit boring.

A plain bowl of oats, water and milk isn't that likely to tingle your taste buds. The result, is that there is an increasing tendency to 'Pimp Your Porridge'! Whether it's blueberries and honey, seeds and raisins, or even cinnamon and banana; the options available to add interest to your oats, are endless.

If you want to go to the next level, you should also mix up the kind of oats that feature in your porridge. There a delicate balance to be achieved, between the smoothness of milled oats, the roughness of rolled oats and the fibrous texture of pure oatmeal. Get it right, and the texture of the perfect porridge is well worth it!

The Ultimate Oats

Here's the thing about 'Pimping Your Porridge'... it can take quite a bit of time. There's also quite significant scope for error, especially for a sleepy cyclist. Luckily, there are now some great pre-made porridge mixes that will give you the Ultimate Oats, straight out of a packet.

My two favourite pre-made porridge mixes at the moment (I've tried a few!), are Rude Health's 'Fruity Date' and '5 Grain 5 Seed'. Both have that sought-after great texture, gained from the best mix of rolled oats, porridge oats and oatmeal. 'Fruity Date' is then a sweet blend of cinnamon, dates, apricot and apple; whilst '5 Grain 5 Seed' is (as the name suggests) a crunchy mix of seeds and flakes, which provides sustaining 'good fats' and fibre. 

Alternatively, if you're just looking for the optimum oat mix, but want to 'pimp' with your own fruit, nuts and seeds, then Rude Health 'Daily Oats' is a great option!
'Pimp Your Porridge' DIY - With a jar of nuts and dried fruit

Old School Oats and EggOats

Before I get too carried away talking about oats, I wanted to mention one last thing that any oat fan should experience... proper oatmeal porridge.

This is real old school porridge, and it tastes great! To make it, you're best to use the traditional saucepan simmer technique, rather than the quick and easy microwave; simmering allows you to get the perfect consistency, and helps to soften the oatmeal.

Cooking oatmeal on the stove also means that you can mix stuff into it whilst it's cooking. A favourite of mine on a recovery day morning, is to mix in a whisked egg or two; it gives a great texture and taste. You can then 'pimp' as you feel fit with spices, fruit, nut butter and even things like avocado. If you want some further Oatmeal ideas, this blog from Ted King on the Strava site is very cool.

In Praise Of Porridge

Basically, I'm a self-confessed oat addict. Every breakfast features oats, in one form or another. Most of my snacks revolve around granola, or oat cakes. Then there's fruit crumble as a dessert...

Oats are a Superfood. But, they can also just be a super food source. Get involved and 'Pimp Your Porridge'!


  1. Chef Orre has a good recipe for overnight oats in his Velo Chef book. And no need to buy expensive oats either: just get jumbo oats (ideally organic). Incidentally, the coarser the oats, the lower their GI.

    1. Great insight, many thanks. I too like the Velochef recipes. Jumbo oats are a good option, and higher in fibre


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