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Nutrition tips for long-distance cycling
If you are new to cycling or are thinking about going on your first proper long ride, you may be unsure about cycling nutrition and specifically what you need to eat and drink for long-distance cycling. Getting your cycling nutrition right is one of the easiest ways to boost your performance come that grueling sportive or long training ride.
If you get it wrong by eating too little or too much or simply by not eating the right thing, you may find yourself grinding to a halt and hitting the dreaded energy bonk. Five long distance cycling tips.
This blog article will give you information on the best type of food for cycling, how many grams of carbohydrate you should eat per hour, how you can make your own cycling energy products from home and what you should consume after your ride. Common mistakes when cycling long distance.
Why you need to eat on a long ride
For any ride longer than one hour, you think about eating some kind of food. Needing to eat whilst out on a long ride should be common sense.
You are exercising and burning a large number of calories, and so you need to put calories back into your body to keep your energy levels topped up.
However, it is not quite as simple as that. Many factors determine what food you should consume whilst cycling, but the duration of your ride is the most important.
One good rule of thumb is that for every hour that you are out cycling, you should consume between 50-80 grams of carbohydrates. Subsequently, you should look to consume one piece of solid food per hour.
How many carbohydrates should you consume per hour?
All food is made up of three primary macronutrients. These are carbohydrates, fats and proteins. To perform endurance, exercise our bodies use glucose to help propel us forward.
However, your body only has a limited amount of glucose in reserve at one time. This is why you need to consume carbohydrates on your ride because carbohydrates contain high levels of glucose. There is a large variety of food that is rich in carbohydrates, such as bananas and dates, but you can also get specific cycling energy products that are designed to provide you with the right amount of carbohydrates.
Energy gels vs natural food?
There is a variety of purposely made energy products that you can use whilst cycling long distance, from energy gels, energy bars, energy drinks and energy chews.
These are really useful because they contain the right amount of carbohydrates that you need per hour. Most of them will also include other added supplements that will improve your cycling performance, like caffeine, beta-alanine and nitrates. five long distance cycling routes in winchester.
However, these products are expensive, and for many, the overuse of them can result in stomach or gut issues on long rides.
Another opinion to fueling your long-distance rides is through natural foods. Natural foods that are high in carbohydrates can provide a great nutritional strategy for even the longest of rides.
Bananas and dates can provide the high amount of carbs that you need to perform on the bike without the unwanted gut issues resulting from manufactured energy products.
Other foods that can be used on the bike include cereal bars, surgery sweets like jelly babies and flapjack. You can easily make cereal bars and flapjack from home for under half the price of store-bought items, and you can tailor the recipes to suit your taste buds.
Both energy products and natural food can provide the right amount of carbohydrates per hour, so it may come down to trial and error to find out which one you prefer more.
One big tip for really long rides is to mix up which type of food you consume. If you consume too many energy gels, you may suffer some gut issues by taking on too many liquid carbohydrates in a short period of time.
You may also experience taste palette discomfort if you eat the same food or the same flavor of food too many times in one ride.
One tip to avoid this is to vary your food intake and combine both energy products and natural food to create an optimal fueling strategy for you. It is recommended that at the start of your ride, you take on sild natural foods such as cereal bars and flapjack and as you get closer to the end of your ride, you start to use energy gels and chews due to their increased carbohydrate contain and how easily the glucose is absorbed by your body and in turn delivered to your legs.
What to consume after your ride?
Every cyclist has got home from a long hard ride and has felt like they could entire the contents of their kitchen. However, this is definitely not the right thing to do.
Once you get home from a long ride, you should think about taking on a mixture of carbohydrates and proteins. This can be achieved by using a purposely design recovery shake which will contain everything you need if you are tight on time or you are just too tired to cook.
However, you can also easily make meals that will include everything you need. Some of my favorites are chicken and rice, salmon pasta, poached eggs with avocado on toast and chicken and pasta.
A quick google of recovery meals for cyclists should provide you with some helpful inspiration. But you should always focus on consuming something with 20-30 grams of protein with some simple carbohydrates to help your muscles recover and grow whilst also refueling your glycogen stores. Increase your cycling fitness with these five intervals.
Top five tips for nutrition on long rides
Take on 50-80 grams of carbohydrates per hour
Start eating early and definitely before you start to feel hungry
Consume a mixture of energy products and natural food
Take on 20-30 grams of protein after your ride.
Try your nutrition out before a big event or long ride, do not try new things on the day of your long ride.
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