More and more people are taking up cycling. You only have to look at the national roads at weekends, when they are filled with pelotons of cyclists of all ages.
All cyclists should remember that cycling nutrition should be based on the calorie requirements of the sport.
This article tells you what a cycling diet should be like, which foods are better than others and how you can supplement it to feel better.
Carbohydrate-only cycling diet?
Since carbohydrates are responsible for providing energy to the body, they are essential in a cyclist’s diet. However, it’s not all about eating rice, pasta and bread (if they are wholemeal, all the better).
In other words, a cyclist’s diet includes plenty of carbohydrates to store the muscle glycogen needed for pedalling. When ingested carbohydrates, they travel a long way through the small intestine before being absorbed into the bloodstream. Energy in the form of glucose is stored in the liver and in the muscle as glycogen for use during exercise.
It is also possible to take carbohydrates that reach the muscles quickly during exercise. However, it should be borne in mind that the effects of this energy can be drastically different depending on the type of carbohydrate ingested. In this respect, low glycaemic index carbohydrates are best, as they keep blood sugar levels stable and do not cause large spikes from which it is more difficult to recover. Most green vegetables, fruits and pulses have a low glycaemic index. In contrast, white rice and potatoes have a high glycaemic index. Bananas, pineapple and rye and oat bran have a medium glycaemic index.
Of course, if you need extra energy to continue the race without fainting, you can eat carbohydrate-rich foods that reach your muscles quickly. We recommend five more below.
However, a cyclist’s diet must also be rich in proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins and plenty of water.
Let us now look at how to provide the necessary nutrients for the cycling diet:
- Carbohydrates. Some foods rich in carbohydrates are fruits -such as bananas or grapes-, legumes, whole grains and tubers -particularly interesting is the sweet potato-. These are carbohydrates with a low glycaemic index that ration energy to avoid high blood sugar peaks.
- Protein to regenerate muscle mass. Especially important in extra meals after workouts of more than two hours or very high-intensity training. Proteins are found in milk and dairy products, eggs, lean chicken and turkey, and oily fish.
- Fats are also an exciting source of energy that helps transport nutrients during exercise. Good fats for the body are nuts, olive oil and avocado.
- Micronutrients: vitamins and minerals such as omega 3 acid, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin D… You can find them in mineral water, eggs, cocoa, garlic, fruit and seafood.
- Water. It is essential to stay hydrated before, during and after cycling. Ideally, you should drink about 2 litres of water a day. It is advisable to start drinking water one or two hours before exercise and take short breaks to hydrate every 15 to 20 minutes, especially in summer.
5 foods to nourish yourself while cycling
One of most cyclists’ questions is what they can eat to prevent fatigue during exercise. That is the sudden physical slump that prevents the rider from keeping up the pace of the race. If you are planning a long or particularly demanding route, we recommend you take some of these snacks, as well as plenty of water:
- Banana. Provides potassium and hydration. Potassium favours good muscle maintenance. It is also rich in fibre and carbohydrates, making it a perfect source of energy.
- Dried fruits such as plums, rich in carbohydrates and fibre.
- Small sandwich with wholemeal bread and quince paste
- Energy bar, with nuts and oats, a very energetic cereal.
- A portion of p astel of rice. Rice contains easily digestible carbohydrates and you can add sweet or savoury ingredients to make it to your liking. To make the base, cook one part rice to two parts water with a pinch of salt and double the sugar. Once the rice is cooked, transfer it to a mould, compact it and put it in the fridge for 24 hours.
What not to eat when cycling
Before you start your race or training, forget about:
- Fast food such as pizzas, hamburgers or potato crisps
- Ultra-processed products such as baked goods and soft drinks
- Pro-inflammatory foods such as red and processed meats or fatty sausages
Eat dishes rich in slowly absorbed carbohydrates, such as whole grains, and include the rest of the macronutrients.
Supplements for cyclists
A healthy, balanced diet including the foods mentioned in this article on cycling nutrition should be sufficient to provide all the macro and micronutrients an athlete needs.
However, there are certain supplements that help us maintain the right levels of certain nutrients that become scarce as we age. One example is silicon. This mineral has a healing effect that should not be underestimated and is of great interest to any athlete.
How silicon helps the cyclist:
- It helps to produce collagen, a protein that provides strength. This is essential for maintaining the connective tissue in bones, cartilage, tendons, muscles, etc.
- It provides elasticity to the tissues, favours the metabolism of trace elements such as phosphorus, magnesium and calcium, as well as participating in the recovery process of joint pain and inflammation.
Tune up your bike and prepare your body properly with these supplements:
- Orgono Sport Recovery, specially formulated for athletes, with organic silicon and glycine, experts in strengthening tissues. It perfectly supplements the cyclist’s diet, as it is recommended for cases of joint stress and wear and tear.
- G7 Siliplant Biodynamized, which helps in the natural formation of collagen and to eliminate toxins. It provides joint comfort, which helps the cyclist to enhance the mobility of the lower body involved in pedalling.
As you can see, cyclists don’t live on carbohydrates alone. Your diet should include all the right macronutrients and trace elements to ensure the optimal condition of your muscles and joints. Plan your cycling diet to ensure you always have the energy you need to continue enjoying your favourite sport.