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March 05, 2013

Carbo-loading restaurants on the Cape Argus Cycle Tour training route

Load those much-needed carbs for the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour at Cape Town's fantastic restaurants, including Keenwa in the city centre. Photo courtesy of Keenwa

Can you believe it’s that time of the year again? Hello, Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour madness!  For the past few months, you have probably driven past cyclists along the Cape Peninsula – Wynberg Hills, Misty Cliffs, Chapman’s Peak, Suikerbossie hill … to name just a few.

With five days to go until the biggest cycling event of the year, on Sunday 10 March, cyclists are gearing up this week for the final countdown. While training is important, it is probably too late to pack in the extra kilometres now if you have not been cycling consistently. Instead, shift your focus to nutrition and prepare your body for maximum energy release.

From carbohydrate-loading to caffeine-loading, chances are your fellow cyclists have been swapping best practices from years of experience. How exactly does carbo-loading work?

Myth: carbo-loading always improves performance

Fact: carbo-loading has been proven to improve endurance for extensive sport events, as your body’s glycogen levels would be depleted. While complex carbohydrates from beans, vegetables, whole grain and fruits are good for our body, our muscle needs easy-to-digest simple carbohydrates during exercise.

How: effective carbo-loading has to be spread over a few days, ideally from the week before the sporting event. Consultant dietitian Pippa Mullins advises cyclists to increase carbohydrate intake up to three days before the event, consuming “8 to 12g carbohydrate per kg of body weight".

While you have been training by yourself, carbo-loading preparation is a chance to involve family and friends! Get creative and try out some new restaurants to get your fill of carbs this week:

Vandiar (16 Dunkley St, Dunkley Square, Gardens)

The newest addition to historic Dunkley Square, owner Invin Vandiar is passionate about sharing the complex flavours of Durban Indian cuisine with Cape Town. Taste the pairing of fresh, handmade roti with slow-stewed mutton curry, or the signature bunny chow filled with fragrant prawn curry!

Nonna Lina (64 Orange Street, Gardens)

A neighbourhood favourite, Nonna Lina serves up simple Italian and Sardinian food with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Smell the ocean breeze with calamari di serramanna – pan-fried strips of calamari tossed in veneranda sauce served on pasta, or culurgiones – classic Sardinian pasta pockets filled with fresh mint, potato and cured pecorino, served with a mint-flavoured tomato sauce.

Keenwa Restaurant (50 Waterkant Street, City Centre

The first Peruvian restaurant in South Africa, where you will find authentic flavours with a modern twist. Tuck into papa a la huancaina con filete de lomo – potatoes steeped in delicious creamy feta cheese and chilli sauce, with beef fillet in anticucho sauce. Or go gluten-free with quinoa atamaladaescabeche fish served on a bed of tamal-style quinoa. Sweeten the meal with picarones – butternut and sweet potato doughnuts with sugar-cane honey!

Eat Out has also compiled a list of restaurants that offer pasta specials. Enjoy the ride – your love ones will be there to cheer you on to the finish line!

Lisa Huang is a blogger with a passion for food and Cape Town. Follow her delicious Food & Chatter adventures on Facebook or Twitter.

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