Cycling nutrition plays a significant role in every cyclist’s success. When cyclists are first starting out, many of them think cycling nutrition is merely about what they eat and drink on the bike. This could not be further from the truth. In reality, for serious cyclists, nutrition management never ends. Your diet, pre ride, and post ride nutrition are just as important as what is being eaten on the ride. If all of these components are not planned out properly, it will be tough to avoid bonking, especially on longer rides.
On shorter rides, it is fairly easy to get away without eating before you ride. However, riding more than ten or twelve miles can prove to be quite difficult unless your energy stores have been properly loaded. When planning a century ride, a cyclist should begin stacking carbs during the course of the week. On the day of the ride, the cyclist needs to get up early, eat a healthy and proper breakfast, and give himself or herself time to digest the meal. On shorter rides, a nice bowl of oatmeal with bananas will do the trick. In addition, here are a few supplements to help boost your early stamina. When taking these nutritional supplements, be sure to adhere to the directions on the packaging for maximum performance.
Once you are on the bike and riding, there are several types of nutrition needed to keep you hydrated and prevent bonking. The first, and most obvious, is the sports drink. Gatorade has long been a favorite of all athletes, but endurance events are quite different from playing football or baseball. While the pre ride G1 Prime is great, Gatorade is not the ideal sports drink for cyclists. While Cytomax has long been a favorite, Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix, a.k.a Secret Drink Mix, is now the ONLY sports drink we endorse. It is far and away the best drink for cyclists on the market today.
The next aspect of cycling nutrition while on the bike is food. If possible, it is recommended you try to load up your pouches with actual food that you enjoy. This increases the likelihood of actually eating during the ride, especially if these items are your favorites. One of my all-time favorites during a race was a peanut butter, jelly, banana, and spaghetti sandwich. Yes, it sounds crazy, but oddly enough, it tasted great and I could feel the energy go right to my legs.
Some cyclists prefer to use a combination of energy bars and actual food. This works quite well, as they can load up on calories on their favorites and then eat the energy bars and gels to boost their energy levels. While cycling nutritional foods used to be quite awful, recent years have seen a trend of products hit the markets that are quite delicious. In addition, some of the gels or drops work very quickly and are perfect for a quick boost right before the finishing line. These are our top picks in this category.
Once the ride is over, it is time to recover. This is probably the one area where most cyclists completely screw up. The moment you stop exercising, you have about a 30-minute window to get protein back into your muscles to help the recovery process. Think back to how many times you did long back-to-back rides and your legs were killing you on the second day. Did you ingest high levels of protein after ride? Exactly!
There are two different routes a cyclist can go in order to get the protein needed back into their muscles to fight fatigue and expedite recovery. First, there are several recovery drinks on the market that work quite effectively. However, most of them are loaded with sugar, which is what you do not want to consumer AFTER a big ride. We use Isopure as it is sugar free and packed with protein. Gatorade recover works well and if you must go with something cheaper and do not mind the extra sugar, you can use products such as Ensure and Special K protein drinks. If weight loss is a reason for riding, though, definitely use the Isopure.