PRE- RIDE NUTRITION
What you eat before your cycle ride plays a huge role— fueling energy for your ride, and the overall efficiency of the workout. The main source of getting the energy required on your ride would be from carbohydrates. They are stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver. The body is able to store small amounts of carbohydrates at a time as glycogen. This is why it is important to eat right, before your ride, and keep topping up on food during your ride.
The question that often comes to one’s mind is, “How long must I wait to cycle after I eat?”.
This would depend on what and how much you eat before your ride. If you have eaten a proper meal, it is ideal to wait at least 3 hours before you get onto your cycle. The reason being that your body needs to focus on digesting the food you’ve just consumed hence your energy release required when you cycle will not be sufficient.
If you ride in the morning, you can either wake up early and eat a light breakfast 2 hours before you cycle, or eat a small snack once you wake up and carry something to munch while on the saddle. But, eat a hearty, high-carbohydrate meal the night before.
A few options for breakfast before a ride(Ideally 2 hours before you ride) :
- Oatmeal porridge
- Ragi porridge
- Banana/Mango smoothie
- Beaten rice (Aval) upma
A few snack options before a ride:
- Granola bar
- Breakfast Muffin
Try to eat foods that are high in carbohydrates before a ride as this will help boost your energy throughout the ride. Avoid foods that that could make your ride uncomfortable. This would include foods high in fat content, excessive spice, excessive fiber content, too much caffeine etc. Such food is known to cause gastrointestinal distress (diarrhea, stomach upsets, acidity)
POST RIDE NUTRITION
What you eat after you finish your ride is as important as what you ate before it and the ride itself. Eating right, after your bicycle ride is necessary to help boost your carbohydrate reserves and aid in repairing and building your muscles after your workout.
It is ideal eat within an hour of getting off the saddle. This is the “golden period” or the “window of opportunity”. Your body metabolizes the food consumed the most efficiently during this period.
A combination of both protein and carbohydrate makes an ideal meal after your ride. Your glycogen reserves would have depleted after the ride and your body requires some carbohydrates to boost energy as well as replenish your glycogen levels. It is suggested that you consume foods with a low Glycaemic Index (GI) after your ride. This would include whole grains, sweet potatoes, soya, tofu etc. Protein is essential for the growth and repair to your muscles. Moderate to heavy training will lead to the breakdown your muscle tissues. Consuming protein provides your body with amino acids essential for growth and repair of these muscle tissues. It is also known to help reduce muscle soreness the following day.
A combination of carbohydrates and proteins aids the recovery process and keeps your body in shape, enabling you to train hard and pedal strong. A ratio of 2:1 of carbohydrates to protein is recommended (i.e. 40 grams of carbohydrates consumed with 20 grams of protein).
A few post ride meal options:
- 2-3 egg omelet with 2 slices of whole-grain bread
- Oatmeal (not instant) with almonds
- Chicken with a side of salad/brown rice and yoghurt
- Fish and a side of starch (rice/pasta)
- Lentils (Daal) and starch (rice/chapati)
Overall, what you consume before and after you ride is just as, if not more important than the ride itself. Good nutrition paired with strong training will lead to an improved experience on the saddle. Remember to feed and hydrate yourself properly before, during and after your rides!