Cycling is a sport of endurance, placing a very high demand on the muscles and the cardiovascular system. As with any sport, a cyclist has to know the best foods to eat. It is essential that the food's consumed go down easy and stay down. A nutritional plan, low in fat and high carbohydrates will provide the needed energy for the ride. Carbohydrates are actually the body's preferred source of energy. Hydration and the correct nutrition can fuel the body and put the cyclist in top condition. The Mayo Clinic study shows that "Carbohydrate loading may help you maximize energy storage for better endurance and delayed fatigue.
Unless you are riding a short distance at an easy pace, it's difficult to bike in the morning on an empty stomach. You need to get your blood sugar up for energy and you need calories for your body to burn as fuel. One to two hours before your ride, have a light, high-carbohydrate meal. Toast with peanut butter, yogurt, a banana and whole wheat cereal are good choices.
During Your Ride
If you are riding longer than 2 hours, you will need to consume some calories, carbs and electrolytes or you may "hit the wall" when your glycogen stores are used up. Bring along sports drinks, GU, sports beans or other healthy snacks such as fig cookies, bananas or energy bars. About every 15 to 20 minutes, consume some liquid, and about every 45 minutes a snack. For rides shorter than 2 hours, water is usually sufficient
After Your Ride
Refuel within the "glycogen recovery window" of 10 to 15 minutes, when your body needs nutrients to repair muscle tissue and replace glycogen stores. Consume a mix of carbs and protein. Eggs, wheat toast, protein shakes, low-fat chocolate milk, yogurt, a smoothie with fruit or a turkey sandwich are all good choices. If you will not be home within a few minutes after your ride, keep a cooler in your car. Eating immediately will alleviate muscle soreness and fatigue that you might experience later in the day.
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