I am currently on my long ride for the week, so I want to share something with you guys that I have been researching and practicing over the past few weeks.
I’m still relatively new to the cycling scene, but I’ve been doing a long ride (over two hours) every Sunday for the past month or so.
I have plenty of experience with fueling on the run, but fueling on the bike is something that I’m still experimenting with. Once you think about it, fueling on the bike really isn’t a whole lot different than fueling on the run. Actually, I take that back. It is a heck of a lot different, but the same principles apply:
In general *most* athletes will need:
- 16 to 32 oz. of fluid per hour.
- Plus, 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour.
Eat Before The Ride
If you run on a regular basis, I’m sure that you know how hard it is to run on a full stomach.
It’s not that way with cycling (for me at least)!
Since you are in the saddle, you don’t have all of that junk bouncing around in your stomach during the workout. Also, you’ll need to start off with a full tank if the ride stretches over 90 minutes.
About one hour before you get on the bike, you should take in about 60-80 grams of carbohydrates.
How much is that?
Most energy bars contain about 40 grams of carbohydrates (a banana packs about 30). Or try a bagel with peanut butter and a bowl of fruit.
Also, make sure you are well hydrated.
Eat and Drink During the Ride
Drink before you feel thirsty.
Your body’s sensation for water is actually well behind its need for liquid, so when you feel thirsty, it’s already too late. Make it a habit to reach for your water bottle every 15 minutes and take several big swigs. If you tend to forget (I know I do), set the alarm on your watch to sound every 15 minutes as a reminder.
I use a Camelbak
About every 30 minutes, eat the equivalent of half an energy bar, which is about 20 grams of carbohydrates. I personally don’t eat many energy bars, so it’s easier for me to eat a banana or dried fruit.
Clif Bars are my staple energy bar
Post Ride Recovery
No matter how much fluid you ingest while riding, in hot weather you’ll finish the ride depleted. You can get all technical and weigh yourself before and after the ride to see how much water weight you’ve lost, but I recommend drinking until your urine is plentiful and pale yellow in color.
One last step, but it is by far the most important:
Studies have shown that your muscles replace their fuel (glycogen) much faster and more efficiently if you eat something immediately after your workout. Your goal should be to eat 60 to 100 grams of carbohydrates (depending on your weight and the length of your ride). Your muscles will refuel best if you refuel within the first 15 minutes after the ride because the refueling process becomes less efficient after this two-hour post-ride – glycogen window.
Also, research indicates that if you mix four parts carbohydrate with one part protein, your glycogen stores will top off more quickly. That’s as simple as having oatmeal (or cereal), a banana, and some protein powder after your ride. I am also a sucker for a bagel topped with an egg or two.
My staple recovery breakfast
It is nearly impossible to match your fluid and calorie intake to your body’s expenditure. The body only has a finite capacity to absorb carbohydrates, meaning that you can only take in so much before the body can’t absorb any more.
By eating a well rounded and balanced diet for the rest of the day, you will be on yout way to successful recovery.
As always, contact me if you have any questions.