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What to Eat Before Cycling? – Pre-ride Health Care

Written by Gary Johnson / Fact checked by Henry Speciale

what to eat before cycling

Having a pre bike ride meal is very important for any cycling trip.

You may not always be hungry, but it’s important to know that you are fueled and energized before riding. It’s best to plan ahead so that if hunger strikes, you won’t be caught without being prepared.

A well-planned pre-ride meal will help your performance on the bike and keep you going at a good pace. In this article, we will talk about what to eat before cycling.


What to Eat Before Cycling

Most people will agree that having a good breakfast is key to completing our activities. If you do not eat before a bike ride, then you could be setting yourself up for a tiring day on the saddle.

When eating before cycling, you should opt for a high-carbohydrate meal instead of a high-fat one to prevent fatigue and encourage sustained energy over the course of your ride.

It is important that before cycling, you only choose meals that are beneficial to your body:

1. Instant Oatmeal


A bowl of instant oatmeal will provide you with the carbs and nutrients you need to start your day off right. Instant oatmeals are also a great option for easy-to-make pre cycling meal that are easy on the tummy. Oatmeal can be paired with a side of fruits, nuts, milk, and other healthy foods.

2. Pasta


Pasta is another carb-rich food that can help you maintain energy levels, due to its so-called ‘slow release’ of energy. The downside is that it takes more time to prepare and has to be eaten at least 3 hours before you ride for proper digestion.

3. Grains and Seeds


Grains and seeds are both high in fiber, various vitamin Bs, proteins, and minerals, which means they’ll keep you feeling full for longer periods of time after eating. They’re actually one of the holy grails for cyclists looking for quick energy boosts before or even during their rides.

Rice, quinoas, and even granola bars with whole grains in them are popular go-to healthy foods for cyclists.

4. Fruits


Fruits are a great way to prepare for an early morning bike ride. They are packed with energy-boosting nutrients that will help you power through your workout, and full of antioxidants that can help ward off free radical damage. Some great examples to start with are bananas, dates, figs, and raisins.

  • Pro tip: Fruits can be eaten as is or added to smoothies, yogurt, or even oatmeal.

5. Bread


Bread is a staple food for cyclists. It provides the energy to keep you going, since it is also a high-carb food. Eating some toast with peanut butter will give you the protein you need to keep your muscle tissue strong while also providing the fuel you need.

What to Do 30 Minutes Before Riding


A meal in the morning will not only give you strength and endurance to reach your destination, but without it, your body will be unable to adjust to the tough conditions easily.

But just because you need a meal doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want, especially if you only have 30 minutes left before cycling class or your regular ride on the road.

You must eat your meal at least an hour before you ride to give ample time for the food to be digested and the energy to be stored in your body. Simple foods such as oatmeal and the ones listed above are highly recommended due to them being high in carbohydrates.

But if you are going to be riding a long course, then your meal preparation should be at least 48-72 hours before the event. You can read more about our guide here.

At the same time, foods with high sugar should be avoided to avoid storing unnecessary fat in the body.

Another thing to remember is to drink before cycling. Staying hydrated is the best way to cool down as you ride on. You can even add electrolytes to help balance your body’s water level, especially for long bike rides.

As long as you drink two to three liters of water per day, there is no need to worry. Have 500 ml of an electrolyte beverage two hours before cycling if the trip is demanding.

Types of Food to Eat


Eating can actually give your body a big boost for endurance and recovery, but what type of bicycle food should you eat before cycling?

1. Carbohydrates

Foods rich in carbs enable riders to last long when riding and even exercising. They are the main source of energy of a person’s body and provide glucose to the muscle for recovery, which is why a lot of riders and athletes intake high-carb meals before sweating.

These include:

  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Quinoa
  • Porridge
  • Granola
  • Energy Bars
  • Bananas

2. Proteins

If you wish to lose weight through cycling, eating protein-rich foods can help, since they boost your metabolism. Apart from that, proteins are also a necessary nutrient that aids in building and repairing muscles.

Foods with protein include:

  • Lean Meats
  • Fish and Seafood
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Dairy Products
  • Nuts
  • Legumes and Beans

3. Fats

Adding a small amount of healthy fats enables the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. The essential antioxidants and vitamins help the body in terms of building nerve tissues and maintain a lean body weight.

  • Saturated Fats – Limit their intake. Should NOT be eaten on a regular basis. Examples: Animal fats, dairy products, pastries, coconut oil, palm oil, etc.
  • Monounsaturated Fats – Better than saturated fat. Can be ingested in moderation. Examples: Nuts, avocados, olive oil, and canola oil, etc.
  • Polyunsaturated Fats – Good to be ingested in moderation. Not as good as monounsaturated fat. Examples: Seeds, corn oil, sunflower oil, fatty fish, etc.

Pro tip: Although consuming protein and fats are okay before cycling, it is highly suggested that only a minimum amount of proteins and fats are added to your meal plan to avoid indigestion, bloated feelings, and discomfort.

What to Eat After Cycling?


A lot of people’s first thought after they cycle through their morning commute is, “I need to refuel.”

If knowing what to eat before mountain biking helps in storing energy for later use, then eating the right foods after cycling can help replenish the carbohydrates lost during rides and give you the energy to continue with your day.

There are many foods that can help you refuel after cycling, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and milk. Eating a combination of these foods will ensure that you get all of the necessary nutrients and energy to recover quickly.

A cyclists’ meal nutrition plan does not end upon the start of your ride. It also includes an after bike ride, which is as important as your pre-ride meal.

With that said, planning your meal is not only applicable to outdoor rides. This can also be used for before and after stationary bike riding. Try to eat within an hour of your exercise ending.


The key to pre-ride nutrition is to focus on getting a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and water in the body.

Once you understand the difference between biking before and after a meal, you too will think twice on what to eat before cycling.

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