Nutrition for Cyclists

Your body can only produce the right results if you put the right things into it. Nutrition can be very important for cyclists. Eating the wrong foods will make you sluggish and can hamper your recovery after rides. On the other hand, making the right food and drink choices will help you to produce your best results.

Carbohydrates (Carbs)

Carbs are one of the main sources of fuel for the body. They are held in the muscles as glycogen and released as glucose during high intensity periods of exercise. Excess carbohydrates are turned into fat by the body. These fat reserves will be burned up if needed, but they do not convert energy as efficiently as the carbohydrates which have been stored in the muscles.

On the morning of a big ride, riders should try to consume a breakfast which is rich in carbs, such as porridge or muesli. Scrambled eggs on rye toast can also provide a great boost. These types of carbohydrates release their energy slowly, so that you will be getting the most out of them during your ride.

Top up carbohydrate levels about 30 minutes before a ride with a healthy carb, such as a banana. You can also continue to top up carb levels during the ride itself, but you will need to transfer to special carbs which are designed to release their energy more quickly.

Dried fruits are lightweight, healthy, road-friendly snacks that offer quick hits of energy.

Isotonic sports drinks also mix carbs with other essential nutrients.

A dinner that contains a healthy carb like rice or sweet potatoes will help you to recover after a ride.

Protein

Protein is essential for building healthy muscles. Without adequate protein levels, your muscles will not recover properly between rides and you may find that you struggle to reach your own basic targets.

Proteins are also essential for regulating the immune system. Without adequate protein levels, your body will become more susceptible to viruses and bacteria illnesses. Some cyclists supplement their diet with artificial protein powders, however these supplements are not required if you carefully plan your diet.

It is easy to get enough protein into your daily routine using animal and plant-based sources of protein. Protein can be found in plenty of sources, including; fish, meat, soy, eggs, nuts, diary and legumes. Lean meats, such as grilled chicken are perfect for riders who are trying to maintain a healthy diet.

Fat

Fat is an essential part of every diet, although it has been unfairly demonised by some people. It is vital for temperature regulation, healthy cells and improving brain functions, as well as providing riders with a source of fuel. Fat reserves are actually vital for endurance cyclists who travel for more than half a day.

In general, cyclists are recommended to eat “good” fat, such as those which are found in nuts, seeds, oily fish, milk, olive oil and avocados. Although good fats do serve a useful purpose, they should still be consumed in moderation.

Water

Water or isotonic drinks which contain water are essential for cyclists to help to prevent them from becoming dehydrated. Dehydration can be fatal. It reduces the ability of the body to function properly, which can cause a decline in performance. It also reduces brain functions, which can mean that reaction times are slowed too. This can increase the risk of an accident. It is therefore vital that riders take on enough water during the course of a ride.

Extra water is needed on a hot day to compensate for the water that is lost from the body thorough sweat. If you start to feel thirsty, this means that you are already becoming dehydrated and need to consume water more regularly.

Your nutrition amounts

Cyclists NutritionIt is hard to say the exact mix that is required, because every rider processes foods in a different way. There is a recent trend for cyclists to explore macronutrients, meaning that riders analyse their diet and work out the exact mix of nutrients that are required by their body. Macronutrient diets can be hard to maintain without the aid of a professional dietician.

Amateur riders are recommended to maintain a balanced diet, but they are not required to watch every single mouthful.