Cycling A Long Distance? What to Eat on a Long Bike Ride

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Here is what foods and drinks you should be consuming if you plan on taking a long bike ride.

Good Foods for Cycling

It’s important that you’re mindful of what foods you consume, whether you’re taking biking seriously or just want to try it out for fun. You need to have enough energy that you’re going to use for cycling. That is why getting enough protein in your body is so important. It’s the key to fuelling your body for a long ride. There is plenty of amazing protein sources that you can implement in your daily meals.

Image by Albrecht Fietz from Pixabay

Your body will rely on your protein supply. That’s where it will get its energy for long exercises. So, make sure you are eating enough lean meat, fish, eggs, and vegetarian alternatives in case you don’t eat meat. You can implement these foods in your lunch and for your breakfast, you can try eating a smoothie bowl with some protein powder in it. Protein smoothies and shakes are also great. They can provide you with the nutrition you need and you can drink them on the go.

While you’re exercising, your body will try to keep the muscle glycogen stores intact. It will attempt to use fat instead of burning carbohydrate whenever it’s possible. However, if you plan on going for a long ride, your body will at one point run out of carbohydrates and that can slow you down. By exercising regularly, you can learn to delay that point, but you still need the right food to help you with that.

Importance of Hydration

Your body will release a lot of sweat during your bike ride. Believe it or not, you will lose approximately 4 to 8 litres of sweat on your ride. If you don’t replace the water that’s been lost, that can be very bad for your health. You need to drink a lot of water daily and think about introducing isotonic drinks to your diet. These drinks will provide your body with the fluids it needs to handle a long bike ride. If you don’t like these drinks, then alternate between drinking water and some other higher energy drinks. In that case, you will also need a source of salt from any kind of snack that is going to facilitate the fluid absorption.

Balanced diet

Whether you plan on biking around the city or taking up something more extreme like riding professional mountain bicycles in the more dangerous areas, you need to have a balanced diet.

First of all, you need to keep your fat low. There are two main reasons for this:

·         Your body doesn’t need to replace fat stores between activities.

·         By eating less fat, you will end up consuming more carbohydrates which your body needs for a long ride.

You need to be mindful of how much you eat. Unless you are vegan or vegetarian, the chances are that you eat more protein than how much your body needs. It’s important that you take the amount of protein your body needs, and not more than that. Over time, that protein gets stored as fat and it can make you gain weight.

Suggested food and drink for training/riding

While you’re riding a bike, you won’t really have that many food options on the go. Your body will be using the energy from the food you ate before the ride. However, if you plan on eating something during your training you can bring bananas, low-fat sandwiches, jams, cereal bars, flapjack, malt loaf, scones, bagels, low-fat cake bars, and so on. Smoothies and milkshakes are also great for that.

Timing of eating

The food you consume is very important, but it’s also crucial how often and at what times you eat it. If you want to maintain and improve your performance level, try to consume between 30 and 60g of carbohydrates per hour. Try to squeeze in as much carbohydrates from several different sources before going on a ride. This will give your body the energy it needs to last through the whole ride.

Foods to avoid

Lastly, there are some foods you should definitely be avoiding if you’re going for a long bike ride. For instance, high energy drinks shouldn’t be consumed in high quantities. They can dehydrate you and they will probably upset your stomach. Replace those high energy drinks with some other drinks lower in carbs like isotonic drinks and fruit squash. These will help you stay hydrated during the long bike ride.

Also, try to avoid foods such as sausage rolls, pasties, pork pies, and Scotch eggs. They are all high in fat and won’t be able to provide your body with any carbohydrates. Lastly, avoid drinking fizzy drinks and cola as well as anything that contains caffeine.


All in all, if you start properly hydrated, take the right amount of protein and carbohydrates, while staying away from foods high in fat, you are good to go.

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