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Cycling snacks–what should you eat on a bike ride?

   Words by ZAC Cycles

   on 26/04/2018 11:52:30

What should you eat on a bike rideRacking up the miles or riding a sportive, what should you eat if you want to keep those pedals turning?

This isn’t a complete guide to optimal eating for cycling written by scientists or nutritional experts but we have put together a few suggestions based on some helpful articles and thrown in our two penn’orth worth.

What did the pro’s eat ‘back in the day’?

The first Tour de France was won by drinking from fountains and eating at bars along the route. The following year the winner’s daily diet included 11 litres of hot chocolate, four litres of tea, champagne and 1.5kg of rice pudding. Things didn’t get much better for quite a few years with beer, wine and champagne being used for hydration (sure that made the races way more fun!) and picnic foods such as bread and pasta.

Thankfully by 1939 nutrition was starting to be considered more important and by the mid 1960’s opinions were changing with the invention of one of the first sports drinks, Gatorade.

What should you be packing in your picnic?

Unfortunately there isn’t a definitive answer as it’s very much a personal choice as to what works best for your body. We have listed some of the more popular suggestions and included links to qualified advice too.

Food to fuel your ride

  • Bananas
  • Jelly babies
  • Gels
  • Flapjack
  • Jam / peanut butter & jam sandwiches
  • Malt Loaf
  • Mars / Snickers bar
  • Cake!

USEFUL LINKS

road cc – how to eat right for sportives and long rides

British Cycling – cycling nutrition on event day

Feed Zone – cycling and triathlete specific recipes for every-day and on the bike

Minimalist Baker – easy recipes to make your own energy bars (vegan and gluten free)

cake2Yet more foody questions – what to eat for breakfast, how often to eat during a ride……….

Getting your food right on the bike is only half the battle. What do you eat the night before, how do you fit in breakfast with pre-event nerves and how often should you be munching the jelly babies?

We have summarised a few top tips based on our own experiences and included links to more detailed and expert advice that might be useful.

The night before

Eating a bowl of pasta the night before a ride isn’t going to suddenly make you awesome if the weeks before you have lived off a diet of chips and beer (sorry, we have tried and it really doesn’t work). Try to keep healthy-ish in the weeks leading up to your ride.

Stick to what you would usually eat, a high carb meal is good but don’t eat a mountain of pasta if you know that doesn’t usually sit well. Choose something you know is easy to digest.

A few favourites: spag bol with garlic bread, chicken / veg risotto, lentil / meat casserole with rice or bread.

Event morning

Again, don’t change what you usually have for breakfast. Porridge is always a top brekkie but if you usually have toast and cereal then stick with it.

Definitely don’t skip breakfast, you are going to need those Weetabix when you hit the first climb. Everyone is different but most people like to eat a good few hours before the event start, you can always top up with a cereal bar or toast an hour or so before you get riding.

A few favourites; porridge with honey, beans on toast (food of champions!), fruit toast and yogurt, (coffee – a staple for many cyclists).

During the ride

What you eat and how often is specific to each person but the general rule is for rides over 90 minutes you will need to take on extra food from the start; remember you are fuelling for the miles ahead, don’t wait until you feel hungry. The same applies for hydration, little and often.

USEFUL LINKS

British Cycling – Top 10 tips for event day nutrition

Total Women’s Cycling – Top 5 cycling nutrition tips

Recover and………relax

The hard work is done, you’ve got round the ride so it’s time for recovery. Try to eat within 1 hour of finishing, ideally 30 minutes, to put back everything you have taken out. This is the body’s most efficient time to absorb all the good stuff and help to repair and recover. Don’t forget to keep up with the fluids too.

A few healthy favourites; lean meat / cheese and salad sandwich, baked beans / scrambled egg /sardines on toast, jacket potato with beans / cheese.

cafe stopBelow is one last article about the most common nutrition myths. Good luck out there and keep enjoying those café stops!

Bike Radar – 12 cycling nutrition myths

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