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Cycling training: what to eat and drink?


Whether you cycle to work, bike to be fit or are preparing for a bigger challenge, such as a long cycling tour or a competition, you will notice that your endurance is improved and you will be able to bike faster and longer if you eat the right food. Cycling demands a lot from the body in terms of energy. The number of calories you burn while cycling depends on the speed, the terrain, your weight and how long you are cycling.

So what to do and when? What should you take into account? What should you drink? What should you eat?

A carb rich diet is vital for all cyclists, as it delivers the fuel you need for your training. You will also avoid feeling bloated by eating small snacks while exercising. Eat a little bit more than usual at dinner so you can set out the next morning with a full tank.

Drink a lot throughout the day. Remember to drink at least 0.5 l water at dinner. You can even have a sports drink to ensure your carbohydrate store is full.

Err on the side of caution and eat the food you are used to eating. Avoid spicy and salty food, such as ready-to-eat meals, crisps, take-away… Choose simple food,

such as  vegetables and fish, meat or a meat substitute, with rice, quinoa, couscous or potatoes.

Eat carb-rich, low-fibre food in small portions to avoid stomach complaints three hours before you start your training.

Drink 0.5 litres of water, coffee or tea at breakfast.

E.g.:

  1. Banana sandwiches
  2. White bread with jam or honey
  3. Breakfast cereals with milk or yoghurt
  4. Pancakes with agave syrup or brown sugar

If you had breakfast three hours before you start your training, then have a small snack to counter hunger pangs one hour before you start your workout.

Continue to drink until you start your training.

E.g.:

  1. Gingerbread loaf
  2. Banana
  3. Cereal biscuit

Avoid fatty and protein-rich food to promote easy digestion.

Drink during the first 15 to 30 minutes of the race. Strive to drink 150 to 350 ml every 15 to 20 minutes. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Drink at least:

  • 1 bottle of isotone sports drink every hour
  • OR 500 ml water if your energy intake is already sufficient because of the food you are eating.

The more you sweat, the more you need to drink.

Strive for 60 g of carbohydrates every hour.

If you drink water, you’ll need two portions. If you are drinking a sports drink, then combine one portion of food with your drink.

E.g.: 1 portion (30 g carbohydrates)

  1. a portion of gingerbread
  2. banana
  3. energy bar
  4. cereal biscuit

Have a snack every two hours until your next full meal. This will help your body and muscles recover more quickly.

You must drink 750 ml of fluids for every 500 g of body weight you lost.

Choose a carb-rich snack and strive for an intake of 1 g of carbohydrates per kilo of body weight during the first 30 minutes after the race.

E.g.:

  1. 450 ml of skimmed chocolate milk
  2. 450 ml of low-fat drinking yoghurt

Optimise your recovery with a full meal that contains protein and carbohydrates.

Continue to drink until your urine is translucent.

E.g.:

  1. Meat or fish with vegetables and pasta, rice, potatoes.
  2. Bread with lean meat or cheese (spread).

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