Cycling Diet

Cycling diet is often overlooked by many cyclists, yet it is essential to maintain your health and fitness and in giving your body the right nutrients it needs to recover from heavy training sessions. If you’re going out on a long training run then ensuring you have the right cycling diet is important. You need to be sure you have enough energy inside you to complete your training session.

Fuel up before your training session, carry something to eat during it and you need to eat after the session to allow your body to recover from the hard work you have just put it through. A good cycling diet will facilitate all these things. Another good point is about weight loss. If you are cycling to lose weight then forget about the bathroom scales as your monitor and use body fat monitors instead.

This is because cycling reduces fat and builds muscles. Muscle is heavier than fat, so if you use the scales to monitor your progress you will not see much drop in weight as the fat is reduced but the muscle increases. Using body fat monitors will give you a truer picture of your fat shedding progress. Your cycling diet should be based on good quality foods based on fresh ingredients’. A natural diet will involve more effort but is worth it for the returns you will get in higher energy levels and a more robust immune system.

Avoid fast foods, sugary pop drinks and instant meals which are full of fat and sugar. Your cycling diet should be based on fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meat and nuts. Balance is also crucial. Make sure your cycling diet includes a good balance of the right food groups. Carbohydrates, healthy fat products, protein and vitamins. A diet rich in these nutrients and well balanced will not only improve your cycling but will give you a great health boost generally.

If you are using cycling to lose weight don’t skip meals. You need to keep enough energy stored to get through your training sessions. Skipping meals is a mistake. Just drop all the sugary rubbish and replace it with fresh foodstuffs. This along with hard cycle training will be enough to get rid of those excess pounds.

Look at your cycling diet as important as your bike and clothing in your cycling training. Get the balance of diet and training right and you will soon reap the benefits of increased endurance and improved health.

Paul is a lifelong cyclists and the author of the blog Defensive Cycling where he discusses all things cycling related from commuting to endurance training. Go to Defensive Cycling now and get your free book “Cycling for life”.

Question by Lisa: Low carb diet and Cycling?
I am an avid cyclist and I’m 7 pounds away from my perfect ideal weight. My boss suggested this diet which doesn’t eliminate carbs..but drastically reduces them. This diet worked wonders for him and the three days I’ve been on it I can tell it’ll do the trick! For my morning 25 mile rides I’ve been eating a bowl of high protein/fiber no sugar added cereal. It is not on the diet of course but I feel I need it and once I get home I follow the diet. This Saturday will be my first long distance ride on this diet. I’m spending 4-5 hours riding and I know some bowl of ceral isn’t cutting it. I typically bring with me some gatorade (pure sugar goodness) and granola bars or some other quick eating carb/sugar source. Biking well comes before weight loss so if I gotta screw the diet then screw the diet. But I’d like to know if anyone out there has experience with low carb diets and bicycling. Any advice on what I should eat would be appreciated.
Oh yeah…that low carb crap lasted for about 7 hours. I don’t know what I was thinking! This weekend I’m eating up and riding hard! Thanks!

Best answer:

Answer by Apollo19
Low carb diets and cycling do not go together at all. Low and no carb diets work well for certain low to low/mid activity people, but as an athlete, your dietary requirements are very different from that of an average person. If you’re riding 2+ hours at a time, you’re going to need your carbs, or you’re going to find yourself seriously hurting in the later stages of the ride.
I’d also advise against going for a certain “target weight”. If you’re 7 pounds overweight (of which 5 or more lbs. at any time could be water) and performing well, I’d say stick with your current weight and not some arbitrary number. What you definitely don’t want to do is starve your body for carbs and have it go into a catabolic state during a distance ride and start burning lean mass a.k.a. muscle for fuel.
In short, enjoy your Gatorade and granola and pastas and all those other carby goodies. If you truly want to drop a couple pounds, cut down your portion size and eat more often throughout the day.
Hope this helps!

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

Pedal power | Ben Patrick
Every discipline of cycling is a complicated and subtle art. There is more to it than just pushing the pedals - technique, physiology, diet and equipment all play enormous roles. Read everything that you can to educate yourself and spend some good time …
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    • hogie0101
    • February 13, 2014

    Ditto to the previous answer. Low carb is a Joke. It’s simple math, calories consumed verses calories expended. A change in the type of food you eat is only tricking yourself for a few weeks. Staying away from processed sugars or “highly processed” grains or highly processed anything including protein is very different.

    On a 4-5 hour ride I eat at least some form of “bar” whatever you like to fill the void in the stomach. I use GUs or Gels about every hour to start and every half hour near the end. I use water to drink, if I use a Gatorade (or type) drink then I mix it at half strength.

    Bike racer diet: half of every plate is fruits and vegetables, one plate only per meal, no seconds. 3 times a day for off days and 4 to 6 on ride days depending on duration/intensity. I use a heart rate monitor with a calorie counter, not totally accurate but a good indicator.

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    • Atilla
    • February 13, 2014

    Low-carb diets are for fat couch surfers, not active people. And forget this notion of “ideal weight.” Get a body fat test. That’s really more of a measure of what your fitness is like. Remember, muscle is a lot more dense than fat, and “ideal weights” don’t necessarily have athletes in mind.

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