How to stay fueled during your bike ride - 5 food tips
Road cycling is a sport that you often do for a couple of hours. If you cycle for longer than an hour, you need to replenish your energy with well chosen snacks and drinks. Your body starts using stored energy after an hour of activity.
Here are some tips for a energetic and well nourished bike ride.
Rule of thumb: Bring something to eat for every hour you’ll spend on the road.
If you’re planning to go on an hour long training ride, one full bottle of water will do. But on longer trips it’s good to also bring food.
In any case you should drink lots of water, sweating makes you lose natrium, kalium, magnesium and calcium. To get this back into your system you can take special drinks with isotopes, but normal water and the right nutrition can do the same.
If you are planning to go on a cycling trip for more that 1,5 hours make sure that you eat a healthy meal before you hit the road. This can be a bowl of cereal with yoghurt, or bread with jam and some fruit juice. Eat about 2 to 4 hours before you plan to leave.
Just before you go you can take a small snack like a cereal bar or a shake with carbs.
It’s good to pack a snack in those practical back-pockets you have on your cycling jersey. Eating whilst cycling takes a bit of practice, but practice makes perfect.
Lots of cereal bars and snacks have the right size to fit your pocket, and also bananas are excellent for some extra energy.
A lot of cyclists also pack gels, which are quite expensive. What's nice about them is that they get quickly absorbed into your blood, therefore giving you almost instant energy. Because they contain lots of sugar you should drink extra water. Downside of the gels is that they have a lot of calories, sometimes more than you’ll burn during your bike ride, so only bring them on long trips or use them in case of an energy emergency.
You can also take a slightly longer break during your ride to treat yourself to a nice pancake on a sunny terrace! The combination of carbs, protein and sugar makes the pancake a treat full of energy for the rest of your cycling trip.
When you come back from spending hours on the road your muscles need protein. You can make yourself a bowl of yoghurt with some fresh fruits, but also chocolate milk is an excellent recovery drink! The combination of protein and sugars makes this the a balanced beverage to take after an intense workout.
Always make sure that you also drink enough water, tea or lemonade.
4. Make your own!
If you want to be sure that you’ll eat a snack with the right amount of sugar and carbs, and don’t like any other additives or preservatives, you can easily make your own snacks! There are lots of sports nutritionists that share easy and healthy recipes online for cereal bars or other energy snacks and recovery drinks.
Some of them using simple and standard ingredients that you just might already have in your kitchen or are easy to find in your local supermarket.
5. Professional Advice
If you are planning to do a special training or want to set body goals, consulting a food professional like a dietitian or nutrition specialist is a good idea.