If you love cycling and want to adopt healthy cycling practices, you need to fuel your body with the right food and hydration levels. Whether you’re embarking on a long-distance adventure or participating in a competitive race, you need to know how to nourish your body with the right foods and hydration. Here are some key principles to consider when it comes to cycling nutrition.
You need to ensure that your body is getting enough carbohydrates as a fuel source for cycling. These carbohydrates provide the energy needed for sustained efforts and help replenish glycogen stored in your muscles. You should prioritise complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. These foods release energy slowly and provide a steady supply of fuel during your ride.
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You need to stay hydrated while maintaining performance and preventing dehydration. It is important to regulate your body temperature, deliver nutrients to muscles, and remove waste products with the help of adequate hydration. Before your ride, you should drink water or a sports drink to ensure you start strong and energised. You should also aim to consume water or a sports drink at regular intervals during your ride, especially in hot or humid conditions and keep a bottle of water with you at all times.
Fuel During Longer Rides
For rides lasting longer than 90 minutes, it’s important that you replenish your energy during the ride. You can consume easily digestible carbohydrates such as energy gels, sports drinks, or energy bars. These provide a quick source of energy and can help sustain your body temperature levels. You can also experiment with different options during training rides to find what methods and nutrition works best for you.
Include Protein for Recovery
After your ride, you should prioritise eating protein-rich foods to aid in muscle recovery and repair. Protein helps to rebuild damaged muscle fibres and supports overall muscle growth. You should include lean sources of protein such as chicken, fish, eggs, legumes, and tofu in your post-ride meal or snack.
Don’t Forget Healthy Fats
While carbohydrates are essential for fueling your rides, you must also incorporate healthy fats into your diet for overall health and performance. You should choose sources of unsaturated fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil as they provide essential fatty acids and help promote satiety.
Timing is Key
Next, it is essential to pay attention to the timing of your meals and snacks. You should eat a balanced meal containing carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats two to three hours before your ride. This allows for proper digestion and ensures you have enough energy for your cycle ride. If you’re short on time, opt for a lighter snack one hour before you go riding, such as a banana with peanut butter or a granola bar.
Listen to Your Body
Every cyclist is different, and individual nutritional needs may vary. You should pay attention to how your body responds to different foods and water levels. Experiment with various pre-ride and during-ride nutrition approaches while training at cycling centres like the Anna Meares Cycling Club to find what works best for you. You can even consult a sports nutritionist for personalised advice tailored to your specific needs and goals.
Remember that it is important to maintain proper cycling nutrition not only during your rides but also for your overall health and well-being. You must eat a well-balanced diet with carbohydrates and healthy fats to support your training and recovery. If you eat well and stay hydrated, it will contribute to better performance, endurance, and enjoyment on your bike.