My friend and I were surviving a self-supported century…we were both bonking a bit and when we ran out of food and water at mile 90 we stopped at a 7-Eleven…I wanted Gatorade for the electrolytes and he said I should get a Coke for the sugar…which would better serve us on a hot day? Also, if you only had $5 to spend, what’s the best junk food you’d find at a 7-Eleven to help you finish the ride? 

We’ve all been there, 90 miles into the ride and you’re out of food, way outside of town, and the guys stop at a 7-Eleven convenience store. What are you going to buy? And assume that you only have 5 bucks. How can you make the best of the situation? It depends on whether you are just trying to eat a normal meal or you are experiencing category 4 bonking.

7-Eleven convenience stores are just about everywhere, and your one-stop shop for Slurpees, snacks, six-packs, lotto tickets, midnight coffee runs, and even paying your taxes. It’s the kind of place you rush into, grab your stuff, and get back on the road without giving it too much thought. There’s a reason it seems like you can find a 7-Eleven on every corner — with 60,000 stores in 18 countries around the globe, you’re bound to stumble upon one sooner or later.

Bonking – Gatorade or the Coke?

If you are dizzy, stumbling into the 7-Eleven with blood shot eyes, your brain needs sugar, stat! Should you go for the cold Gatorade or the Coke? Like all things it depends. Your brain is in dire need of glucose, so both Gatorade and Coke will fit the bill. If it’s electrolytes that you are needing, neither is the best choice. The best electrolyte (sodium) replacement is those free small packets of salt sitting in the condiments section. Take 2 of the salt packets and drink them down and you are good. The best option for sugar is a snickers bar and a coke. Not many things can sing the life back into you like a snickers bar and can coke. The coke rapidly gets the sugar to your brain, which is the main reason you are bonking in the first place. The snickers bar provides more sugar, as well as fat and protein. While arguably not the healthiest choice, stopping the bonking is important because you can continue riding, with a clear mind. Many cycling accidents happen because we bonk and our minds loses focus.

If snickers are not your thing, then buy rice Krispy treats at 99 cents. Throw in some cashews and a banana, and you’ll be riding solid all the way home.

Health(ier) option junk food

Trying to mitigate its image of being a place to score malt liquor, loose cigarettes, and a hot dog, 7-Eleven began to roll out a large menu of healthier options in 2012, like freshly made sandwiches. If you are trying to eat something healthier there are a few surprise options available. Instead of giving in and eating junk or fast food, we can still eat well. In general, when choosing convenience store snacks, seek out protein sources!

Here are some healthy options that you can find at any 7-Eleven

Nuts

Nuts are a snack you can find at most 7-Eleven convenience stores in a small, snack-size package.  Go for peanuts, almonds or cashews.  Raw or roasted are great but avoid candied or honey-dipped options unless you need a sugar hit.  If available, choose a nut that’s loaded with sodium to help your hydration for the long ride. Watch portion sizes, as eating a lot of nuts in one sitting will upset your stomach and affect the ride.

Sushi

For those interested in eating rice cakes, 7-Eleven sushi rolls might be the next best thing. If you have a long ride home, this would be an ideal choice. The low price of the grab-and-go rolls just might be indicative of the quality.

Fruit     

Bananas are usually available at many 7-Eleven stores. They are usually a bit brown, but eating a banana beats out the foods that are made to stay on the shelf for months at a time.

Trail Mix

A star among packable snacks, trail mix contains a good mix of carbs in the form of dried fruit, and nuts, a source of protein and fats.

Canned Tuna

Canned tuna is a favorite gas station snack for most health nuts.  You can’t ask for a better lean protein source than tuna.  Enjoy your tuna with some whole grain crackers, some cheese or some fruit and you’ve got the perfect snack that will give you energy for the rest of the ride.

Yogurt

Most convenience stores will carry a variety of yogurt options, and sometimes you can even find Greek yogurt.  Any type of yogurt will do in a pinch.

Chocolate Milk

Chocolate milk is the post-workout recovery drink of many fitness enthusiasts and there’s a reason why!  It’s rich in protein and it also contains some carbs, so it will give you the energy boost you need and help you feel full.

Granola Bar

Just about any granola bar will do the trick. Most granola bars have the same sugar content as a candy bar, so they are good if your brain needs glucose. Nature Valley is a good option – there are two bars in the pack for around 200 calories total.

Finally, don’t forget to fill your water bottles up to the max and say a big thank you to the clerk as you walk out. Because you know that you will be back!