The journey to physical exertion has just begun. And as always, many people are unaware of what to eat before a long bike ride.
Just like how cars need fuel to run, humans also need food to produce the energy required to function, especially if you are going for a long ride.
If you want to enjoy an extensive journey, start by grabbing a carbohydrate-packed meal before the start of the event.
Healthy snacks are also allowed but for a long bicycle ride, check out our helpful tips below on what to eat before and after an intensive cycling tournament.
Table of Contents
What to Eat to Fuel Your Body Before a Long Bike Ride
1. 48-72 Hours Before An Event
When going for a long-distance cycling tournament, a biker must prepare their nutritional diet at least 2 or 3 days before the actual event. Maintaining the bicycle is essential, and so is conditioning the body by knowing what to eat before a bike race.
You must load your body with carbs to build an energy reserve, as these nutrients are our body’s primary energy source. Other than carbs, a diet for cyclists usually includes vegetables, and fruits, along with other protein-rich meals like fish and Greek yogurt.
You should lean towards carbs more instead of protein-rich foods. But there is no harm in taking a meal with a balance of protein and carbohydrates, such as peanut butter and toast.
However, carbohydrate consumption should not be over-the-top as this can lead to stomach problems such as indigestion and diarrhea. Ideally, there should be 2 or more hours between meals.
2. 24 Hours Before An Event
Just because you have maximized your eating 2 or 3 days before doesn’t mean you should stop there.
You should also prepare for long bike ride by continuing your meals with carbohydrate-rich foods a day before the event. Do not hesitate to change your usual meal plan to intake extra carbs in your body to help you in the event.
If you don’t have an idea of what to eat the night before the big day, you can try on some foods that are very easy to digest. Some carbohydrate-rich goodies are bananas, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, quinoa, and oatmeal.
You can also eat snacks with cereals such as Weetabix before cycling and take them with low-fat milk or some toast and jam for a full-packed carb meal. Pure fruit juice will also help with your energy reserve.
If you’re going on a long ride, drink plenty of water before leaving for proper hydration so that you don’t have to make stops along the way.
During this time, high-fat, high-fiber, and spicy food must be avoided at all costs as they might upset your stomach and/or affect your metabolism.
Types of Foods and Drinks
Most hindrances on long rides are caused by dehydration, stomach upset, and low blood sugar.
Whether it’s just before or right on your drive up or down the road, as long as you are well-prepared with your cycling nutrition for long rides, then you are sure to finish the distance.
You might think that foods for a long bike ride are strict, but there are plenty of edibles that can provide proper nutrition for endurance cycling.
Carbohydrates – The most important nutrient that you should cram your body with! The foods can range from fruits and cooked meals to ready-to-eat snacks and even drinks!
You should load up on carbs for about 60g per hour. Before the ride, make sure you’ve consumed 60-80 grams of carbs, depending on your gender and body type.
- Natural Sources: Bananas, chickpeas, oranges, grapefruit, black beans, lentils, whole wheat foods, etc.
- Energy Bars: Clif bar, Skratch Labs Anytime, TorqBar, etc.
- Energy Chews: Skratch Labs Sport Energy Chews, Honey Stinger Energy Chews, etc.
- Energy Gels: Torq gel, SIS Go Isotonic, SIS Beta Fuel Gel, etc.
- Energy Drinks: Electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade, etc.
Protein – Protein helps repair muscle tissue, which will reduce fatigue as you work through long rides. It also promotes glycogen metabolism, supporting blood sugar regulation and providing energy throughout the activity.
You should eat at least 0.4g of protein for every kilo of body weight
- Pita Bread
- Peanut Butter Toast
- Lean Meats and Poultry
- Seeds and Nuts
Another must-have for your ride is the fluid to hydrate your body – water! Drinking water is an important part of cycling nutrition so that your body has enough liquid for sweat loss and muscle repair.
At least 2L of liquid must be drunk overall. And for every hour of physical activity, an addition of at least 500 mL is required. Note that the amount of water required may vary between seasons, so you may need 1.5L/hour on a particularly hot day.
How to Eat for a Long Bicycle Ride
The best way to eat for a long bicycle ride is to fuel your body with nutritious foods before, during, and after the event.
Prepare before early morning bike ride with carbs and condition yourself to help refuel your body for the journey ahead.
It is also a good idea to hydrate and eat the morning of a big ride. It can help you stay hydrated, keep your energy levels up and prevent cramping.
Simple easy-to-eat snacks like gels and bars are perfect for filling your energy needs on the road. Take one and a gulp of water every half hour, and follow it up with a small meal half an hour after the ride.
If you’re riding for more than an hour or two, you’ll want to take in some electrolytes. There are plenty of options out there, like Gatorade, because it tastes good and has a lot of electrolytes.
That said, we still suggest you carry extra water in case something happens on your ride. For particularly long rides, you may also want to stop occasionally to refill your bottle.
What Should You Not Eat Before Cycling?
For drawn-out bicycle tournaments, such as an extensive MTB ride, there are still some foods you should not eat on a long bike ride for optimal diet conditions.
Try avoiding meals rich in high-sugar content to avoid high blood sugar and insulin. These two will eventually be stored as fats and can make you tired in the long run.
One thing you should also watch out for is eating refined carbohydrates and drinking caffeinated drinks the evening before the event. A night of bad sleep could take a toll on the body, which is not recommended for a long ride.
Lastly, if you are not used to eating certain food types, don’t overdo it, as you may get an upset stomach and consequently miss the ride.
What To Eat After The Finish Line
After a long bike ride, you’re going to be hungry. You will want to eat after long bike ride meals that can quickly replenish your body’s energy, such as protein bars, carbs, and energy recovery shakes.
Still, you must avoid eating junk foods and just stick to a healthy diet. I’m sure you don’t want to experience a sugar crash.
If you’ve taken the plunge and decided to take up cycling, congratulations! You’re in for a tremendous amount of fun and good health, but you must also be aware of the cycling nutrition during ride.
Don’t neglect your cycling nutrition, and understand what to eat before a long bike ride. Have fun on your bike trips!
“I ride my bike to work for years, but is that enough? Our carelessness towards our surroundings has taken a toll on the environment. And now, everyone is responsible for changes; even the most minor contribution is counted. With this hope and spirit, I started with my partner to establish Biketoworkday to help more individuals commute to their work sites on their bikes.”