Whether you’re looking to embark on a long-distance ride on the road or an adrenaline-fueled rip off-road experience, you should always ensure that your energy stores are fully stocked. A personalized cycling nutrition strategy is key to good performance and if you’re lacking in pre-ride energy, then you’re not going to be at your best when riding. As such, it is crucially important that you’re well-nourished before you ride, while out riding, and post-ride to aid recovery and maximize performance.
“You should always ensure that your
energy stores are fully stocked whether you’re
looking to embark on a long-distance ride
on the road or an adrenaline-fueled
rip off-road experience.”
What foods should I consume?
When thinking about cycling nutrition, we think about supplying the body with the energy it needs to fuel our muscles and enable us to physically move. Of all food types, carbohydrates are responsible for providing energy to body as they are broken down into sugars that are then distributed into the bloodstream and delivered to the muscles. The conversion rate of carbohydrates into sugars can vary among foods, which is why they’re highly beneficial to cyclists before, during and after any ride.
Glycaemic Index (GI)
The Glycaemic Index (GI) gives an indication of how long certain foods containing carbohydrates will take to break down into sugars. Comprised of High-, Mid-, and Low-GI sections, the GI enables cyclists to refine their diet to deliver the right amount of energy at the right time, as well as aiding muscle recovery.
Before you hop on two wheels and start riding into the sunset, you’ll want to make sure that your body is equipped with enough energy to cycle as far you set out to. The last thing you want is to tire too soon or become so exhausted that you can’t physically cycle back home! When fuelling up for a ride, you should cast some thought to how long you will be cycling for, the gradients of your route and how much preparation time you have.
2-3 hours before ride
In your cycling nutrition plan, you should consume Low-mid GI carbohydrates such as porridge, muesli, rye bread toast, or scrambled eggs or plant-based protein, 2-3 hours before your ride. This is because these types of foods will be broken down slowly, which will drip-feed energy into the blood stream and take longer to be transported to the muscles.
30 minutes before ride
Shortly before the ride, your cycling nutrition should be aimed at topping up your energy stores with a mid GI snack – such as a banana or jam and whole grain toast – that will help to provide a good amount of energy that won’t be drip-fed or lead to a sugar rush/burnout.
During the ride
Naturally, you’ll need to consume fluids/foods that are easy to ingest, but facilitate the rapid delivery of energy to your muscles to keep you to maintain a high level of performance. In general, these should be fluids/foods that have a high GI, such as isotonic energy drinks (also help to remain hydrated), energy gels and dried fruits.
Cycling nutrition is crucial in the post-ride phase, as this is where you’ll need to rapidly increase your depleted energy stores immediately after the ride to aid muscle recovery. By replenishing the lost energy in your body, you’ll feel less exhausted after you’ve finished riding and feel more revitalised the next time you hop back on it!
After the ride
Immediately after the ride, you will want protein that can help your muscles to recover faster, as well as high GI foods that will restore your lost energy. Foods such as whole grain cereals will deliver energy to the body quickly– and when consumed with milk or non-dairy milk–you’ll be providing the protein that your body needs for muscle recovery.
2-3 hours after the ride
Around 2-3 hours after the ride, you should consume low-mid GI foods, such as grilled salmon or plant-based proteins with steamed broccoli and sweet potato mash will provide your body with ample nutrition to further aid your body’s recovery when you’re resting.
“It is crucially important that you’re
well-nourished before you ride, while out
riding, and post-ride to aid recovery
and maximize performance.”
In short, all regular cyclists should have a personalized nutrition plan to help improve performance and reduce recovery time. By using the Glycaemic Index, you’ll be able to develop your own plan of foods you enjoy to eat that will also replenish lost energy and maintain focus when you need it most.
Do you plan appropriate pre-during and post cycle nutrition?
What are your favorite foods for fueling bicycle rides?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.
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