Ultimate Guide To Cycling Nutrition

Ultimate Guide To Cycling Nutrition

Nutrition is the key to better performance.

Professional athletes from all sports have a diverse diet based on their goals, and cycling is no different. Experienced cyclists and professionals know that the proper nutrition will enable them to achieve more.

If what you want is to increase the intensity of your riding, then you’ll need energy. The only way to get energy is through the right foods.

This means that nutrition plays an integral part for every cyclist. Knowing the importance of nutrition is just the first part of the process.

In today’s guide, we’ll share with you everything you need to know about cycling nutrition, from its importance to what nutrients you need.


Why Is Nutrition Important For Cyclers?

Cyclist Eating Cake

Nutrition is an essential aspect of our lives.

Proper nutrition will enable your body to perform more activities and improve your health. Food is so important for humans that it is now a profession and a branch of medicine, and it is a crucial aspect of an athlete’s life.

For cyclists, the right nutrition means more energy and less recovery time. More energy means more time riding, and this means achieving more goals.

Additionally, the correct intake of nutrients will reduce the time you need to recover and hit the road again.

Carbohydrates are your best option for energy. Consuming them in significant quantities will give you the power you need to burn through your cycling training.

Every physical activity requires energy, and sports require a lot more than most activities.

Depending on your body type, the intensity of your training, and your goal, you’ll need a different energy amount. If you want to ride a tour, you’ll need more energy than if you only commute with your bike.

Understanding the right amount of energy for your diet is vital for better cycling performance.

The proper diet can also help you avoid cramps when you are riding. It can even help you reduce the post-riding muscle pain. Meat and other protein sources are your most vital ally to keep your muscles ready for more cycling.

If you are unsure of the right diet for your body type, training intensity, and goal, you should consult a nutritionist. Overeating something is as bad as not eating enough, so if you don’t know the right amounts, get some professional help.

Pre-Ride Nutrition, During-The-Ride Nutrition, and Post-Ride Nutrition

The first thing you’ll need is your pre-ride meal.

A pre-ride meal needs to include the right amount of energy and enough water to keep you hydrated during your ride. A good pre-ride meal will enable you to achieve your goal without difficulty.

During your ride, you’ll need to focus on one thing: keeping yourself hydrated. Water and sports drinks will help you regulate your temperature and keep you from overheating.

Additionally, you could include some protein bars with low processed-sugar levels.

Finally, your post-ride meal should include the right amount of proteins to ensure that your muscles recover correctly. Carbohydrates and a lot of water should also be a part of your post-ride meal.

Macronutrients Needed


Macronutrients are the nutrients your body needs in significant amounts to function.

They are used by the body to perform activities like walking, running, and even thinking. Including the right amount of macronutrients in your body will make your riding a lot more efficient and will enable you to increase your endurance.

The macronutrients that you will need are the following:

  • Protein
  • Fat
  • Carbohydrates

These three macronutrients are the basis of many diet theories.

Some find fats to be the main villain in your diet, while others believe that carbohydrates’ only purpose is to make you fat. However, the three of them are essential for a proper and healthy diet.


As we’ve mentioned before, carbohydrates are the energy source your body uses to perform various activities.

Your body stores carbohydrates in your muscles and liver and uses the energy throughout the day for multiple functions like moving, breathing, and thinking.

The more you do in a day, the more energy you need, and the more carbohydrates you need to add to your diet. If your training is too intense, you’ll need more carbs.

The reason is that your cells can convert carbohydrates into energy a lot faster than other nutrients.


Protein is the primary way your body builds muscles and rebuilds other tissues.

During intense training, your body breaks the muscles as it tries to keep up with your riding routine.

When the muscles are damaged, they need time to recover. That’s where proteins come into action.

Proteins give your body the proper nutrients to rebuild the muscles while still giving you enough energy to complete your training.

Not only is protein essential for the muscles, but it also plays a critical role in the production of hormones needed for your body.

Proteins also improve your immune system.


Fat serves a similar purpose to carbohydrates.

Your body can convert fat into energy, burning the fat that has been stored under your skin and between muscles. Fat is the best energy source for low-intensity training, which means that it is essential for recreational bikers.

Your body also uses fat to produce insulation, keeping you warm during cold days. Another way your body uses fat is when protecting the organs.

Fat is present around every muscle, and your organs are muscles, meaning that fat covers and protects them.

Not all fats are suitable for your body. Fats that are part of fast foods, processed foods, and fried foods are not healthy and do not help your body. The only good fats are olive oil, nuts and some seeds, fatty fishes, and avocado.

Consuming the right amount of macronutrients will make you feel a lot more energetic and healthy. You’ll notice a better sleep and recovery time, and you’ll also notice a boost in your sports performance.

If you are a cyclist, you’ll see the difference in and off the road.

Best Foods For Cyclers

Cyclist Eating Pizza

The diet a cyclist needs is different than the diet a boxer or a soccer player needs.

Each one requires a specific amount of micro and macronutrients.

Cyclists need a lot of energy and water. The energy needs to be combined with enough protein and fats to keep them going for long distances.

Here’s what you should include in your diet if you are a cyclist:

  • Salmon: The richest fish you’ll find. It offers proteins, omega-3, vitamins, minerals, and other healthy fats.
  • Chicken: Vitamins A and B, protein, K plus iron.
  • Mackerel: Omega-3 and vitamin E.
  • Carrots: It offers phosphorus, magnesium, and other minerals.
  • Sweet Potato: Excellent source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins.
  • Cucumber: Potassium, calcium, sodium, and vitamins.
  • Beetroot: Nitrates, calcium, and folic acid.
  • Potatoes: Potassium, magnesium, and vitamins C and B.
  • Avocados: An excellent source of folic acid and vitamins.
  • Peanut Butter: It is highly rich in potassium and vitamins B and E.

What About Protein Bars and Shakes?

Protein bars and shakes are an excellent way of keeping yourself filled with nutrients, minerals, and amino acids necessary for sports performance.

However, you should keep in mind that it doesn’t matter how good the bar or shake is. They won’t be able to substitute whole foods’ benefits.

You must understand that protein bars include many added sugars that make them more similar to candies than healthy foods. Some brands will use cane sugar or honey, while others might use stevia or something less natural.

Keep that in mind when including bars and shakes in your diet.

If you eat protein bars or drink protein shakes just for the protein, you risk overeating protein. Too much protein can cause many health issues in your stomach and bowels.

Tip: Some shakes and protein bars are high in calories, giving you a lot of energy and sugars. If you are going to consume bars or shakes for protein, make sure you are taking out other sources of calories from your diet.

Other Source of Proteins You Can Use

Protein bars and shakes can be beneficial if you are training with high intensity. Still, if not, you should first consider natural options for your diet.

Add these to your diet, and you will notice the difference:

  • Raw nuts and seeds
  • Boiled eggs
  • Unsweetened yogurt
  • Cheese or cottage cheese
  • Dairy products
  • Beans and lentils
  • Tofu
  • Seitan
  • Leans meats and fish
  • Whole grains

Don’t Forget About Water

Cyclist Drinking

Water is something you should always carry with you when you go cycling.

It is the source of life, regulates your body’s temperature, and keeps you from collapsing after an intense ride.

If we look at dehydration during sports, every athlete loses speed, strength, agility, and concentration with an increase of 2% dehydration.

It means that not drinking enough water will make you lose energy and make your brain less focused on the training.

Water has many incredible benefits for you and your training, and drinking the right amount will make you improve your performance. 

Benefits of Water for Athletes and Cyclists

You’ll improve your muscle function: Hydrated muscles will outperform dehydrated muscles in any sort of activity.

It will help you regulate blood pressure: Blood pressure increases when you exercise, and high blood pressure puts a lot of stress on the heart. Keeping yourself hydrated helps the heart regulate the pressure and maintain a normal rhythm.

Water can help you improve circulation: A correct blood flow and circulation help the body deliver nutrients and oxygen to the muscles. The only way to improve the blood flow and circulation in your body is to keep yourself hydrated.

Sweat: Another benefit of water is that it helps your muscles get rid of waste in the form of sweat. Without water, we wouldn’t sweat out any toxins that could be harmful to our bodies.

Risks of Dehydration

One of the main risks of dehydration during sports like cycling is the possibility of muscle fatigue.

Without the correct water intake, your muscles won’t recover correctly, contributing to the danger of injuries.

Dehydration can also produce a lot of life-threatening issues like overheating and heat strokes. If you keep yourself hydrated, you help your body regulate the temperature. That way, it can avoid cramps and other temperature-related issues.

The Importance of Electrolytes

Water alone is enough to get you through your riding, but adding electrolytes to it will enable you to recover even faster.

Electrolytes are minerals needed to conduct electricity throughout the body, making them essential to regulate muscle and nerve function.

They are also necessary to regulate the body and hydrate it properly. They also help rebuild damaged tissue, something essential for athletes. This is what allows muscles to build and get bigger.

Your muscles need the following electrolytes to contract: Sodium, calcium, and potassium. Including these types of minerals in your diet will help your muscles improve their functionality and reduce post-workout recovery time.

When to Use Sports Drinks?

If you exercise for an hour or less a day, then you won’t need to include any sports drinks in your diet.

However, if you do work out for more than an hour, you’ll need more nutrients, minerals, and water to keep you healthy.

Additionally, suppose you perform intense workouts or practice in places with extreme heat or humidity. In that case, you’ll need more minerals and water than usual.

If you train under extreme circumstances, then sports drinks are an ally you should consider before, during, and after your training.


Food For Cyclists

The correct nutrition will improve your riding performance while giving you the necessary nutrients to remain healthy.

Nutrition and the proper diet are essential for athletes and cyclists. Add enough macro and micronutrients to your diet, and drink plenty of water, and you’ll notice the effects in no time.

Overall, an essential part of understanding nutrition is that each person requires a different amount of nutrients. It will vary on your body type, the intensity of your training, and your nutrition goals.

Still, one thing that applies to everyone is that whole foods and water are the best way to increase energy and improve health.


Last Updated on May 29, 2023 by Danijel Cakalic

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