Cycling nutrition 101 – what to eat and drink to make the most of your bike rides

Whether you´re a weekend warrior or a pro rider, your nutrition needs to be on point to make the most of your time spent on your bike.

“To me, it doesn’t matter whether it’s raining or the sun is shining or whatever: as long as I’m riding a bike, I know I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” said cycling legend Mark Cavendish once.

Whether you´re a weekend warrior or a pro rider, your nutrition needs to be on point to make the most of your time spent on your bike. In this blog post, we give tips on getting enough energy and eating and drinking during your ride.

Do you get enough energy?

When you spend hour after hour on your bike, you spend a lot of energy. That’s why it’s essential to pay extra attention to getting enough energy throughout the day.

Eating enough is crucial for your training, recovery, and becoming a better cyclist. If your body is constantly getting too few calories, your performance and health will suffer.

A good tool for gauging your energy intake is energy availability. In this formula, you take the energy you get from your food, subtract the energy expenditure during exercise, and divide the number by your lean body mass. The optimal energy availability for an athlete is somewhere around 45kcal/kg. If your energy availability is constantly under 30kcal/kg, the health risks grow significantly.


Example: 

Weight 65kg
Body fat 20%
Lean body mass 52kg

Energy intake (=the energy from food) 2,800kcal
Energy expenditure on bike ride 1,200kcal

Remaining energy after workout 1,600kcal
Energy availability = 1,600kcal/52kg = 30kcal/kg

-> Our example cyclist’s energy availability is too low. For 45 kcal/kg, the cyclist should eat around 3,500kcal.

Low energy availability can lead to injuries and illness. Relative energy deficiency in sports (RED-S) is a state that can lead to many serious health problems, affect your performance and even lead to psychological issues. In the worst cases, its effects can be permanent.

What should a cyclist eat and drink during a workout or a race?

Before workout

The groundwork for a successful ride happens in your daily life. If your diet has been poor all week, you won’t be at your best when you hit the pedals Sunday morning.

Remember to eat and drink enough before a long workout. Eat something with slow carbohydrates and a little protein. If it has been a while since your last meal, eat an easily digestible snack before the workout. An electrolyte drink is also a good choice before a workout to ensure you’re adequately hydrated.

💡 Tip! Raw porridge with oats, berries and Nosht Nut Protein is the perfect snack before your workout. You can make it the night before, and it tastes great after a long ride, too.

During workout

Take energy and fluids steadily throughout your workout. It’s dangerous to wait until you feel thirsty or hungry – then it may be too late to fix things.

Take 30–90 grams of carbohydrates per hour, depending on the length and intensity of your workout. Choose carbohydrate sources that are easy to absorb so that your body can get the energy it needs as fast as possible. Take energy every 20 or 30 minutes.

 Duration Carbohydrates/hour
less than an hour none or very little
1–2 hours
30g/h
2–3 hours
30–60g/h
over 3 hours
60–90g/h

 

 When you sweat, you lose both fluid and essential electrolytes. If you don’t get salt from your energy source, it’s wise to have a sports drink with electrolytes.

💡 Tip! If it’s challenging to eat on the bike, try Nosht High Energy Sports Drink. It includes all the carbohydrates, fluid and electrolytes you need. You can adjust the amount of carbs to suit your needs; mix one scoop (50 grams of carbs) with 0.25–1 litre of water.

After workout

Remember to eat and drink enough after the workout – especially if you’re planning to be back on your bike the next day.

Aid your recovery by eating something with carbohydrates and protein as soon as possible after your workout. Your body may be a little dehydrated after your ride, so an electrolyte drink is a good option, too.

💡 Tip! If it takes a while before you eat a proper meal, have a Nosht Recovery Drink. It includes both carbs and protein to jumpstart your recovery.

 

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