What Should I Eat on a Long Bike Ride?

Food on a table with a bicycle in the background

What Should I Eat on a Long Bike Ride?

As a 67-year-old cyclist who has completed a number of long-distance rides, I've learned a lot about what to eat and drink on the bike. When I was younger, I didn't really put much thought into what I ate. I would just grab whatever was convenient and eat it while I was riding. But as I got older, I realized that the quality and quantity of food I ate had a big impact on my performance and recovery.

Now, I see food as fuel for my rides. If I put the wrong fuel in my body, I'm going to have a bad ride. So I'm careful to choose foods that are high in energy and nutrients and that are easy to digest.

Here are a few tips for what to eat on a long bike ride:

  • Start with a good breakfast. A balanced breakfast will give you the energy you need to power through your ride. Try to include a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, such as eggs, oatmeal, and berries.
  • Eat small snacks throughout your ride. This will help to keep your blood sugar levels stable and prevent you from bonking. Good snacks for cycling include bananas, energy gels, and nuts.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. It's important to stay hydrated on long bike rides. Aim to drink water or an electrolyte drink every 15-20 minutes.
  • Avoid sugary drinks and processed foods. These foods will give you a quick burst of energy, but they will also crash quickly, leaving you feeling tired and hungry. I learned this the hard way one year on a long bicycle tour across New Mexico. I would stop and fill my bottles up with Gatorade. I drank so much that I was actually heavier at the end of the ride than I was when I finished. After that, I still used Gatorade but I chose zero calorie instead.

Here are a few specific examples of foods and drinks that I eat and drink on long bike rides:

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with berries and nuts, eggs with whole-wheat toast, yogurt with fruit and granola
  • Snacks: Bananas, energy gels, nuts, fruit bars, rice cakes with peanut butter and honey
  • Drinks: Water, electrolyte drink, sports drink

Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are your body's main source of energy during exercise. Good sources of carbohydrates for cycling include:

  • Whole grains: Oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa
  • Fruits: Bananas, apples, oranges
  • Vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots

Protein: Protein is important for muscle repair and recovery. Good sources of protein for cycling include:

  • Lean meats: Chicken, fish, turkey
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products: Yogurt, cottage cheese, milk

Fat: Fat provides sustained energy and helps to keep you feeling full. Good sources of fat for cycling include:

  • Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, cashews
  • Nut butters: Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter
  • Avocados
  • Olive oil

It's important to eat a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fat before, during, and after your ride. This will help to ensure that you have enough energy to fuel your ride and that your muscles recover properly.

Sample meal plan for a long bike ride:

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with berries and nuts, hard-boiled eggs
  • Lunch: Chicken salad sandwich on whole-wheat bread, fruit salad, yogurt
  • Dinner: Salmon with roasted vegetables, brown rice

Tips for choosing the right foods and drinks for your long bike ride:

  • Choose foods that are easy to digest and that won't upset your stomach.
  • Avoid foods that are high in fat, sugar, and fiber, as these can be difficult to digest while cycling.
  • Choose drinks that are high in electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, to help you stay hydrated.
  • Avoid sugary drinks, as these can dehydrate you and lead to a crash in energy levels.

Listen to your body and eat and drink what feels good to you. Everyone's different, so what works for one person may not work for another. Experiment with different foods and drinks on shorter rides to see what works best for you. And don't be afraid to adjust your nutrition plan as needed.

By following these tips, you can ensure that you're eating and drinking the right foods to fuel your long bike ride and help you perform your best.

Here is my next blog post: Unveiling the Future: AI's Intricate Transformation of Bicycles and Cycling


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