6 tips for a healthy courier-lifestyle
A bike messenger's occupational routine can be pretty exhausting, so it's important to provide your body with sufficient nutrition to help you get through the day and also to recharge your batteries quickly. We've asked Raphael from Diagnose Berlin a couple of questions about nutrition as a bike messenger and also gathered some insights what's important about your posture during riding as to not harm your body in the long-term.
Diagnose Berlin concern themselves with performance diagnostics. They inform people about metabolic processes, physical stress, its challenges, and also helps athletes create their personal training and diet concepts based on scientfic analysis.
Raphael is not only the founder of Diagnose Berlin, but also a graduated sports scientist, as well as cooperating with Deliveroo as a bike messenger. He's also a member of the deliveroo-sponsored Fixed Gear Team "MessPack Berlin".
Basic rules of nutrition as a bike messenger
The basic principle of a balanced diet is to give the body what it needs to handle the demanding routine of a bike messenger as well as giving it the means to quickly recover from it afterwards. Most importantly this is about the absorption of makro- and micronutrients, so here comes the science: Makronutrients consist of the 3 main components of food: carbohydrates, proteine and fats. The extencive cycling causes an increased energy consumption and may very quickly result in a daily requirement of 4000-5000 kilocalories (kcal), depending on the exertion and duration even more. This, before anything else, uses up carbohydrates as "fuel" and therefore needs a continuous supply of these. Proteins are of course also important and the whole thing should be rounded with fats. This usually leads to an arrangement of 50% carbohydrates, 30% proteins and 20% fats.
It is also important to consume a sufficient amount of micronutrients, meaning vitamins, minerals and trace minerals. So eating lots of fruit, vegetables and high-grade carbohydrates and fewer so-called "empty calories", like fast food, or pizza, which contain a lot of energy but no micronutrients is the way to go!
What to eat before and after a long day
To start into the day you should have an adequate breakfast, meaning that you should already be mindful of a good base-supply of carbohydrates. The human stomach can process around 100g of carbohydrates per hour, so it doesn't make sense to "stuff" yourself. The food would just stay in your stomach and make you feel unwell. It's best if you start with a light, yet balanced breakfast and then continually eat small servings in small intervals.
After a day of cycling the immediate intake of sufficient proteins is very important to provide your body with the means to regenerate quickly. Spread out during the day a physically active person should consume at least 1,2g of protein per kilogramm bodyweight.
Improving your stamina
Basically riding a lot of bike is already a great (yet demanding) stamina training. It is understandable if after a day of cycling there is neither time nor energy left for any additional training, yet it is very advisable to try to keep fit using flexibility exercises.
A healthy posture on the bike
As you tend to spend a lot of hours on your bike, maximum comfort is of the essence. Concerning that, preferences vary widely, yet in general an upright posture is easier on the spine and decreases strain on the neck and shoulders, as well as the wrists. Your saddle should be positioned in a way, that you can reach the pedals without effort and also so your knee is slightly strechted out. Your shoes and pedals should be picked with care, best would be pedals with a click system and make sure that they are properly set so the leg movement is in a straight line to your knee. If not you might risk wearing hurting your ankle with the constant strain. To get your bike in the perfect setting for you you can also go to a so-called bikefitting where professionals help you with that.
What to consider when buying your bike
Obviously, the bike should have the right size for you and, as explained above, have the right setting. The constant usage will also ask a lot of your bike so consider the quality and durability of its components. The best choice is usually a simplistic bike frame to minimize potential breaking points. Especially in the rainy season it is necessary to exchange your breaks every now and then. Disc breaks are becoming more and more popular and are usually the best choice.
Because of these reasons many bike messengers use so-called "fixies" (fixed-gear bikes), which require minimum maintenance.