As you start cycling for longer and at a faster pace, you come to realise that a big part of cycling performance stems from proper nutrition. Nutrition is the fuel that keeps our bodies going when we’re trying to push ourselves to work harder. In order to advance in the sport, it’s important to take note of the quality and quantity of what we eat. Making sure that you keep yourself fuelled before, during and after a ride is essential, not just for your performance but for your overall health as well.
X. Dupont shares important nutritional tips all cyclists can benefit from.
Before a Ride
Eating properly before a ride is necessary to ensure you have enough energy to keep your endurance up. It also makes sure that your body doesn’t eat into your muscles when looking for fuel while cycling. Look for food high in carbohydrates that can easily turn into energy when you need it. However, you also want to find carbs that don’t burn too fast and leave you feeling sluggish.
Instead, find food that leaves you feeling energised for longer. Healthy slow-burning carbs like oats, quinoa or brown rice are perfect for this. If you’re riding out early in the morning, preparing some overnight oats is a quick and easy fix that gives you all your nutritional needs pre-ride. In our post on the ‘5 Best Foods to Eat Before a Cycle Race’ I found that adding a spoonful of raw honey to a pre-ride meal is another source of slow-burning fuel that doesn’t result in spikes and drops in blood sugar levels.
During a Ride
South African pro cyclist Stefan de Bod says, “good nutrition and recovery are important in keeping your performance going throughout each stage.” Whether you’re competing in an international race or going for a long weekend ride in the countryside, eating during long-distance cycling is essential. Nutritionist and former cyclist Anne Guzman told Live Strong that while unprocessed carbohydrates are important for meals, her snacks during rides are usually carbs that convert to energy quickly. You want something that's easy to digest and won’t sit in your stomach for too long. Look into energy bars, cereal bars and energy gels that give you that added boost of energy while you’re on the saddle.
After a Ride
Post-ride meals are often what most cyclists look forward to, especially after a heavy day on the road. Even Olympians make sure their post-ride meal is both rewarding and nutritious. Laura Kenny is famous for being one of Britain’s most iconic sports stars after winning four gold medals at London 2012 and Rio 2016. A big part of her success was getting her nutrition right at every stage of the day. In her interview with We Love Cycling she details how her best meal of the day is dinner, after she gets back from her afternoon training circuit. She usually has a tuna bake or a roast dinner, which is a good option because it contains carbs, fat and protein. Hearty protein-rich meals like these provide the body with the nutrients it needs to help your muscles recover faster after an intense day of riding.