If I want to be a cyclist, how should I eat before, during and after my training?

A balanced and sufficient diet is key to the good performance of the athlete, especially for those who practice cycling.

Since it must cover the recommendations of energy and nutrients expended during training, this will also avoid feeling fatigued after a strenuous session.

A study published in the journal J.Sports Med. in 2015 indicates that strategic consumption of high-quality carbohydrates along with electrolyte and caffeinated beverages to aid optimal hydration can help improve cycling time by up to 84 seconds.

Proper nutrition before, during and after a cycling session

Replenishing energy is vitally important to staying focused during endurance sports.

Plus it makes the difference between feeling energized to continue cycling the next day or wanting to wait a week to recover after a grueling cycling session.

-Tips of feeding before a cycling session:

The importance of obtaining a carbohydrate load for endurance athletes has been talked about for decades. This is because carbohydrate loading improves performance and endurance during long workouts.

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One of the best ways to ensure your body has enough energy for a long-distance bike ride is to include complex carbohydrates in your dinner the night before.

For cycling sessions shorter than 1.5 hours, it is recommended to eat 7 to 12 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of weight, 24 hours before the cycling session.

Here are high-carb foods that can be included in dinner the night before your ride:



-Brown rice (whole grain).


Sports nutrition experts say that foods high in protein and fat can affect energy levels significantly compared to the effect of a carbohydrate load.

However, this does not mean that you should completely exclude them, one serving is usually enough at each meal prior to training or competition.

Foods like avocado, olive oil are excellent sources of healthy fat, while fish, eggs, low-fat yogurt and nuts provide high amounts of protein.

-Food of the cyclist during the tour

Many cyclists know the importance of getting carbohydrates during the bike tour. The amount of carbohydrates you need to consume depends on the length of your ride.

They can generally be obtained in sports drinks or energy bars, among other foods with easily and quickly digestible carbohydrates.

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For tours longer than 2.5 hours, 90 grams of carbohydrates should be consumed. On the other hand, 30 grams or less are enough in training sessions of 30 minutes to 1 hour. This may vary based on other variables besides time such as exercise intensity, cadence, among others.

Some commercial brands have designed carbohydrate gels and other products for quick energy on the bike.

However, for longer rides, other foods high in complex carbohydrates are needed.

For endurance cyclists, there are quick snacks with fast-releasing carbohydrates, such as:

-Bananas (high in carbohydrates).

-Energy bars with whole grains, nuts and dried fruits (high in protein and carbohydrates).

– Mixed nuts with dried fruits (high in protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates).

– Peanut butter or peanut butter sandwich with fruit jelly (high in carbohydrates, healthy fats and proteins).

-Low fat cheese cubes with nuts (high in protein and healthy fats).

-What to eat after a cycling session

After your tour, you can feel satisfied for having reached the goal set. However, it is time to replenish the expended energy, as well as recover the nutrients for your speedy muscle recovery and serum levels.

The diet after the cycling session consists of a meal high in carbohydrates and proteins.

If your exercise plan is 8 hours or less, you should ensure that you have consumed carbohydrate foods immediately after your run is over.

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Even if you intend to rest the next day, consume 1 to 2 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of weight every hour for the next 4 hours of cycling.

Make sure to add protein after cycling for speedy muscle recovery. The longer your recovery period, the longer can be the period in which you can consume protein.

However, if your plan is to continue training soon after your cycling session is over, make sure to consume at least 20 grams of protein within the first 3 hours for optimal muscle recovery.

Your cycling training is usually hard. However, your eating plan may be adequate for your speedy recovery.

Follow these eating guidelines, along with an eating plan recommended by your nutritionist or sports doctor.

An adequate diet will keep you focused on your goals today and with enough energy tomorrow to continue with your journey.

Source: The National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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