For cyclists who workout once or more than once a day, good nutrition is vital. Here we have put together a mock menu and riding schedule that is chock full of the nutrients that cyclists require throughout the day. It includes pre-ride fill ups, meals, and snack ideas.
Pre-ride Morning (6:30)
Toast+ Energy gel or Stroopwafel, and lots of water
When you wake up from a full 8 hours of sleep and you want to jump on to your bike to greet the day, you’ll need a specific type of fuel. Your stomach hasn’t digested much in 8 hours, so to “wake it up”, you’ll want to go easy on the fat and sodium, and concentrate more on light foods with easy to digest protein. A stroopwafel is perfect for this, because it is portable and has been designed for on-the-go eating during workouts. If you decide to use a gel instead, we suggest eating something light like whole grain toast, to help digest the gel. Be sure to drink water before, during, and after your workout to help loosen your muscles and help your blood flow smoothly.
Nutty oatmeal, Avocado toast, Open-face salmon sandwich
After your workout, your body’s functions are warmed up and ready to begin the day. Keep these things moving with carbohydrate hearty and healthy fat foods. Healthy fats are rich in omega-3 and omega-6, which help keep your brain sharp and have excellent anti-inflammatory properties (great for combating that workout you just did!). We suggest pairing things such as nuts, oatmeal, avocado, ghee, and salmon. You still don’t want to overdo it on the sodium and sugars, because it could cause indigestion after your workout.
Hummus and crackers, Yogurt and berries, Banana and almond butter
Somewhere between 2 and 3 hours after your breakfast, you’ll start to feel hungry. It’s normal, and is your body’s way of telling you to keep up the good work. We suggest treating yourself to something that will hold you over until lunch, but won’t completely fill you up. Snacks such as hummus and crackers, yogurt with berries, and banana slices with almond butter are high in carbs and protein, to give your stomach a full feeling and your body a push of energy that will take several hours to taper off.
Pre-ride Afternoon (11:30)
Protein bar, Protein drink, Trail mix, Energy chews
Fuel up for your afternoon ride just before or at the beginning of your afternoon ride. The easy and portable options are protein bars, and energy chews or gels. You can also gulp down some trail mix or a protein drink if you have time to eat before you leave. Very similar to your morning pre-ride fuel-up, these items are high in easy-to-digest protein for the boost you’ll need to keep you going. But, these items should also be heartier in sodium and carbs, because this is your second workout today and you’ll need those things to help ease in your recovery afterwards.
Burrito bowl, Grilled chicken salad, Turkey sub with hummus and veggies
If you’ve stuck with us thus far, you’ve done a great job. It’s time for your first big meal of the day, but we advise you to exercise caution when choosing proportions and cuisine. Your body is trying to stay in “go mode” for the rest of the day, so avoiding fried, fatty, and saucy foods for lunch will keep your energy and blood sugar leveled. We suggest pairing a lean meat with a whole grain and veggies. This kind of meal will provide exactly what you need to keep you going. Oh! And remember to continue to drink water – skip the fruit juices and teas. Also, don’t feel like you have to eat everything you’re served. If you feel full, listen to your body, stop eating it, and save the rest of it for later.
Whole grain toast with almond butter, Cheese and crackers, Yogurt and trail mix parfait
Your gut is telling you something right around 2:30pm. First, it wants to thank you for keeping it going all day. Second, and most important, it wants a small snack. It has digested everything from lunch and now needs something to help taper off its workout until dinner – or your evening ride. Eating something light, but salty and a bit indulgent, will help to ease your stomach rumbles. We suggest whole grain toast smeared with almond butter, cheese and crackers, or, if you’re feeling fancy, a yogurt and trail mix parfait. These foods have the perfect balance of protein, sugars, carbs, and good fats that your body requires around this time of day.
Pre-ride Evening (17:30)
A protein smoothie is the best thing to have around 5:30 in the afternoon. It wakes your stomach back up from its happy slumber since your snack, but doesn’t overdo it before dinner. We suggest prepping an 8oz smoothie with almond milk, almonds, oats, protein powder, and frozen strawberries. If you’re concerned about your blood sugar peaking from this, omit or replace the strawberries with raspberries. The idea with this smoothie is to wake up your system and get it ready to ride. If you go hard enough with this last ride of the day, you should see an excellent return in experiencing a longer and deeper sleep tonight.
Veggie pasta and meatballs, Chicken fajitas, Tuna steak
Great job today. Its dinner time and your body is feeling great from all of the healthy eating and working out, so let’s reward it with a hearty dinner. Pick traditional dinner items, but give them a healthy twist. Spaghetti and meatballs can be flipped in to veggie pasta with ground turkey balls. Steak fajitas can be turned in to chicken fajitas with roasted zucchini. And a steak dinner with hush puppies and slaw can be substituted for baked tuna steak with a whole grain and a vegetable. These meals will fill you up with the perfect amount of food and nutrients to help you sleep well and feel more energized in the morning.
Cheese and crackers, Milk and cereal, A square of extra dark chocolate
Are you *still* up? It’s okay, we are too. If you’re awake after 9:30 and are hungry, give your body something that will keep it relaxed, but still satiate your hunger. Things such as cheese and crackers, milk and cereal, or a square of extra dark chocolate have a great balance of nutrients to keep your blood sugar and appetite happy.
Which foods help push your pedals? Do you have a nutrition and workout regimen that you follow? We would love to hear about it! Share your menu ideas in the comments below.