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Nutrition for Cycling: What to Eat & Drink When You Start Cycling

Nutrition for Cycling: What to Eat & Drink When You Start Cycling

So, you have your wheels and cycling gear ready to start your cycling journey. But, have you stopped to think about your nutrition? Well, before you embark on the journey, it is good to keep in mind your daily nutrition. Additionally, what you eat and drink before, during, and after your rides is very important as far as your success as a cyclist is concerned. You need to know the right nutrition to fuel your rides for optimal performance as well as to aid your recovery after. However, it can be a bit daunting as a beginner. That is why we are giving you the basics in this article to help you sort out your cycling nutrition questions as you get started as a cyclist.


Daily nutrition

What you eat on a daily basis plays a critical role in improving not just your health, but your performance as a cyclist as well. That is why it is important to have a nutrition plan that ensures that you are giving your body all the important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals every single day. To improve your daily nutrition, you need to mix a little bit of everything. You will need carbohydrates for energy, protein for tissue repair and strengthening, vitamins and minerals for stronger muscles and bones as well as enhancing other body functions.

In addition, it is important to stay hydrated throughout the day. Remember that you are losing water through sweat during your rides. It is important to replenish your tank to avoid dehydration and to improve your performance. So, in addition to the daily recommended water intake, ensure that you are drinking extra amounts of clean water. Consider installing an RO water filter at home to ensure that you are drinking high-quality water at all times.


Before cycling

You want the food you eat before hopping on your bike to be converted into energy by the time you start riding. This means that you have to give time for your body to digest the food. So, depending on what you are eating, ensure that your pre-meal is taken somewhere between one to three hours before. Slow-release carbs such as porridge, pasta, wholemeal bread should be taken three hours before your ride. If you want to go for a ride after you wake up, grab something that is easy to digest such as a banana 30 minutes to your ride, and eat breakfast after. But, if you can ride in a fasted state, the better, as this can train your body to decrease dependency on energy from carbs and use fats instead. If you have the time, however, aim for a combination of slow-release carbs such as porridge, wholemeal toast, and light protein sources such as nuts, seeds, or unsweetened yogurt. Hydrate with water or fruit juice.


While cycling

Your need to refuel will depend on the duration and the intensity of your ride. If your ride is low intensity and below one hour, you don’t have to refuel. If you are heading for a longer ride of 90 minutes and above with hills to climb, make sure that you are replenishing your carbs stores by taking 60-90g of carbs per hour. You don’t have to wait for hunger or thirst to give a cue to eat or drink. Have a drink every 15 minutes and food every 30 minutes of your ride to ensure that your energy levels are maintained. Stick to foods and drinks that are easy to digest for quicker release of energy to the muscles as well as to avoid constipation while on the bike. Sports drinks, cereal bars, jellied sweets, bananas, and water are perfect for hydrating and replenishing the body.  


After cycling

After your rider, your main focus is recovery. Here, you need to have a combination of carbohydrates to refill the glycogen stores and protein to repair the muscles that are worn out after a strenuous ride. The first 20 minutes are critical since that is the time nutrients are absorbed more efficiently. You can choose between a milk-based drink, a peanut butter bagel, jacket potato and beans, a protein smoothie, or chicken/fish with veg and rice. You can also add sugar free gummy vitamins in this session. 


How to get started

The best place to start is to stock up on cycling foods and drinks. Focus on getting all the nutrients with each meal. Experiment with different foods and drinks before, during, and after your rides to determine what works for you. This can be instrumental in creating a good nutrition plan that will ensure progress and performance depending on your cycling goals.



Nutrition for cycling is a critical area for any cyclist whether cycling for pleasure or otherwise. To maximize your performance, it is good to mind what you are eating and drinking in your daily meals. At the very least, ensure that you are getting all the nutrients every day, with a small allowance for misses. In addition, pay attention to what you eat and drink before, during, and after your rides.


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