Top 5 Cyclist Diet & Nutrition Tips
By Myprotein Writer Stephen Gussin: Qualified Personal Trainer and a regular cyclist.
Diet & nutrition should be a top priority for any cyclist before, during and after a ride, whereby your performance and recovery will be greatly determined by the food and supplements you consume and trust me …you’ll regret it if you don’t get it right. But not to worry, following these 5 simple rules will help you overcome this problem and ensure your performance doesn’t suffer on the bike. So keep reading to hear about the top 5 cyclist diet & nutrition tips.
- Eating for energy.
- Pre ride nutrition.
- Fueling during a ride.
- Post ride nutrition.
- Recovery nutrition.
1. Eating for energy
The first tip I’m going to give you is to eat for your energy! We all know that it’s important to eat the right foods in order to provide your body with all the nutrients it needs- but this is also very important for optimising the body’s energy levels. Your energy levels are one of the most important aspects to consider when it comes to completing a ride, with the potential to greatly affect your performance. For example, we’ve all had those days when we feel sluggish and it becomes very demotivating when you clearly lack the energy required for the task ahead.
High energy foods such as pasta and rice, preferably wholemeal, should be a major part of your daily intake in order to provide a good quality, slow releasing energy source. Carbohydrates should not only be eaten several hours before your ride, but should also be consumed the day before. Athletes regularly use this “carbo loading technique” to build up energy stores, particularly for longer endurance sessions.
2. Pre ride nutrition
Making sure you get a good healthy meal such as wholemeal pasta with a good quality low fat meat like chicken, the night before a race is important, but what about just before a ride? On the morning of your ride it’s important to consume both simple and complex carbohydrates, try consuming foods such as porridge oats, preferably a couple of hours before you leave. You can mix porridge with fruit particularly banana as this will give you extra energy during your workout. Bananas are also beneficial as a high source of potassium, which is also required as your body loses it through sweating.
You need to try and keep your carbohydrate levels up so that you can start and maintain energy stores during a ride. By fueling properly with complex and simple carbohydrates before a race this will help stop you running out of energy early into your ride.
3. Fueling during a ride
Your energy intake doesn’t stop just because your already out on your bike. During your ride it’s important to continually maintain your energy levels, starting with an energy drink. In addition you should try to eat every hour whether it is a banana, energy gel or bar. Energy gels are useful, but will only supply you with energy for short limited periods of time i.e. 20 minutes. Therefore, energy gels should be reserved for use towards the end of a ride when your energy levels are at their lowest.
By maintaining your energy levels throughout a ride you will find that you’ll be mentally and physically stronger on the bike than others around you. Many riders do not pay attention to these simple rules and as a result will often suffer if the pace is high or if the ride is hilly, becoming completely exhausted towards the end.
4. Post ride nutrition
After your ride, the most important time to eat is within the first 30 minutes. Within this time you must take in simple carbohydrates to replenish your energy stores and protein to help repair your muscles. Within endurance training such as cycling, it’s ok to immediately consume starchy foods like white bread or a sugar rich food such as a piece of cake in order to gain a source of immediate energy. This however should be followed by a substantial meal, predominantly consisting of complex carbohydrates such as wholemeal pasta or rice and a good source of protein.
Sometimes we are starving after returning home from a ride, with visions of demolishing the entire fridge… yet other times we may find ourselves very tired and may not feel like eating. Make sure you consume something after a ride, even if this is a small snack! It’s also important to replace fluids, electrolytes and salts lost during your workout, so make sure you rehydrate well with plenty of water and consume a good electrolyte restoring supplement.
5. Recovery Nutrition
Remember the first 30 minutes after exercise is the critical period, your body needs carbohydrates and protein. The best recovery gains are made when consuming quality foods during this initial period. Complex carbohydrates will replace energy stores and good quality protein such as lean meat and dairy will help to repair muscle fibres. Dairy is a particularly good source of protein as it contains all of the essential amino acids that your body requires to assimilate protein.
Further nutrition and making sure you eat solid healthy balanced meals is required in order to continue the repair process from the strenuous exertions you have placed upon your body. If you do not fully recover your performance may be impaired on your next ride and your results and energy levels may start to suffer.
A Take Home Message
When it comes to optimising fitness and performance nutrition can often take a back seat within many peoples training regimes, so make sure your following these top 5 cyclist dieting & nutrition tips.