Every person has different specific nutritional needs. Some basic ideas about fuel for muscles during and after exercise cannot be easily disregarded. There is some noise being made in the cycling world about the so called paleo diet which poo poos the need for carbohydrates in the form of grains and potatoes. This may be OK for the relatively sedentary person whose physiology makes it easy for them to put on pounds. But for the person pedaling a loaded touring bike for several hours each day complex and simple carbohydrates are essential. Carbohydrates provide the fuel your muscles will need in order to fire hour after hour. No carbohydrates, no fuel and no pedals going round. The purpose of protein is to rebuild the muscle tissue being torn down by the exercise. This happens after you stop exercising. The body human is amazingly adaptive to training, and the muscles will be rebuilt stronger than before and with a greater ability to use oxygen and thus greater endurance. I’m no expert or professional in medicine or nutrition but I suggest being careful with fads. Watch this series of videos if you are interested.
When I’m touring I like to carry enough food to last for about 36 hours. Because you never know when you might be able to buy groceries again. And I have a fear of getting stranded in the middle of nowhere without enough fuel to get to the next store or restaurant. Even in what one might think are relatively populated areas there might not be anyplace to get decent food. If you are lucky, maybe you can survive and thrive on hot dogs and chocolate milk and cupcakes from convenience stores, and there never seems to be a shortage of those.
I will also take pasta in the form of quick cooking thin spaghetti. Throw in a few veggies when it is almost cooked and voila, pasta primavera. That works out most of the time, unless there happen to be some ghosts who don’t appreciate your presence as happened to me recently in Merryville, LA. With this result:
I also take powdered milk and muesli. Great for breakfast or emergency meals. Dried soup (I like the Nile Spice brand) can be taken out of the container and carried in zip lock bags. Light, easy to pack, carry and to cook. Lastly, at least one emergency ration of a freeze dried meal or a meal in a boil and eat package.
Basically, I try to bring food that packs the most punch for the pound and that is easy to prepare. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a bonus but they’re hard to carry, so when I find them I buy what I can eat on the spot, or if I am at the day’s stop, what I need for dinner.