If you’re planning a long road cycling workout, what you put in your stomach before heading out the door can impact your performance. What you eat fuels your body, and knowing what to eat before cycling can give you the energy boost necessary to help you ride longer, faster and more efficiently.
What to Eat before Road Cycling? (9 Options!)
#1- Opt for Oatmeal for Breakfast
When it comes to fueling up for a road cycling adventure, choosing the right breakfast is key.
That’s why opting for oatmeal is a great way to start your day. Oatmeal is a low-glycemic index (GI) food, which means it releases energy slowly and helps to maintain consistent blood sugar levels.
This makes it a great option for cyclists who need long-lasting energy to power through a ride.
Additionally, oatmeal is high in fiber which helps to keep you feeling full for longer periods of time.
#2- Avoid High-Sugar Foods
While high-sugar foods may provide an initial burst of energy, they can also cause a dramatic spike in blood sugar levels that quickly crashes, leading to fatigue and decreased performance.
So, opt for low-sugar, high-fiber options that take longer to digest, such as oatmeal or other complex carbohydrate sources, for breakfast.
And, when snacking before, during, or after training, choose easily absorbed, high glycemic foods that can provide quick and sustained energy, such as bars or chewables.
By avoiding high-sugar foods and opting for smarter carbohydrate choices, cyclists can better fuel their rides for optimal performance.
#3- Snack on Easily Absorbed, High GI Foods
Snacks play an important role in preparing for a long ride. As the ride approaches, it’s essential to focus on small, easily absorbed, high-glycemic index snacks and reduce fiber consumption.
In line with this, dried fruits like raisins, dried cranberries, and dates make an excellent snack option that you can easily consume while cycling.
Additionally, peanut butter and jelly is a perfect combination for cyclists, making for an energy-dense snack that can fuel a long ride.
For moderate-intensity rides, it’s recommended to consume bars or foods with a mix of carbohydrate, fat, and protein.
Bananas, which are a staple among cyclists, are a good source of carbs and relatively high GI of 65, perfect for popping in the back pocket before heading out.
Eating foods with healthy fats, such as nuts, avocados, or fish, is ideal when there won’t be training within 1-2 hours, such as during dinners.
#4- High-Carb Options for Pre-Ride Energy
To ensure that your body has enough energy for a long-distance biking session, it’s essential to include high-carb foods in your pre-ride meal.
Opting for carb-dense options such as pasta and rice the night before, along with an oatmeal breakfast, can provide enough fuel for your ride.
You can also snack on easily digestible, high-GI foods like a small smoothie or grapes an hour before your ride.
Bananas are a great source of carbohydrates and can be easily consumed on-the-go.
Additionally, cereals and low-fat milk offer another high-carb choice, and gluten-free foods can aid digestion for some individuals.
#5- Drink Plenty of Fluids Before a Ride
To maximize performance and avoid dehydration, it’s essential to drink plenty of fluids before a road cycling ride.
This simple step can make all the difference in endurance and energy levels.
While water is always a good option, it’s recommended to bring two or more bottles of Gatorade or coconut water for rides lasting three hours or more.
It’s important to stay hydrated even before starting the ride, so sipping fluids throughout the morning leading up to the ride is advised.
It’s also recommended to take regular sips of water or sports drinks during the ride itself to replace lost fluids through sweat and maintain electrolyte levels.
By prioritizing hydration before and during a ride, cyclists can improve their endurance and overall performance.
#6- Bananas: A Great Carbohydrate Source
In the quest to find the perfect pre-cycling food, bananas are a top contender. This fruit is rich in natural sugars, providing the body with the energy needed to fuel a long ride.
Bananas are also a great source of potassium, which helps to replace the electrolytes lost through sweat.
In addition to being eaten on their own, bananas can be incorporated into shakes, smoothies, and porridge for added flavor and nutrition.
When combined with other high-carb options like oatmeal and cereals, bananas provide the body with the fuel it needs to power through a ride.
#7- Cereals and Low-Fat Milk: Another High-Carb Choice
Another great high-carb choice for pre-ride energy is cereal and low-fat milk.
Not only are they easy to digest, but they also provide the necessary carbohydrates needed to fuel your ride.
Opt for low-sugar cereal options that are high in fiber, such as bran or whole-grain cereals. Pair it with low-fat milk, which is a great source of protein and calcium.
This combination provides a balanced meal containing carbohydrates for energy, protein for muscle repair, and calcium for bone health.
Cereals and low-fat milk are also convenient options that can be easily prepared and consumed before heading out on a ride.
#8- Rice: The New Best Source of Carbohydrates?
Rice has emerged as the champion carbohydrate source for avid cyclists who value performance and efficiency.
This gluten-free grain not only packs a high carbohydrate punch but is also gentle on the stomach, making it a popular choice among riders.
Brown rice is an excellent option for its high carbohydrate content, while white rice is a great choice for those who prefer easier digestion.
Rice is not only versatile but also incredibly easy to prepare and consume, perfect for pre-ride fueling.
Whether paired with lean protein or enjoyed as a standalone dish, rice is quickly becoming the new go-to source of carbohydrates among cyclists.
#9- Gluten-Free Foods for Better Digestion
For those who require a gluten-free diet, it can be tricky to find suitable foods that provide enough fibre and energy.
That’s where whole grains like quinoa and oats come in – both are gluten-free and perfect for pre-ride meals.
However, it’s crucial to be careful and avoid contamination, as even a small amount of gluten can cause digestive issues.
For those looking for alternatives, starchy vegetables like potatoes or steamed rice are excellent options that don’t contain gluten.
It’s essential to choose foods that are easily digestible and won’t cause discomfort during exercise.
What Should You Eat before Cycling for Weight Loss?
For those looking to lose weight through cycling, it’s important to carefully consider what to eat before a ride.
While it may be tempting to skip meals or eat very little, this can actually be counterproductive in the long run.
Instead, opt for light, easily digestible snacks that will provide sustained energy without causing bloating or discomfort on the bike.
Good options include fruit smoothies, low-fat granola bars, and whole grain toast with a light spread of peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese.
Additionally, it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the ride, and to refuel with healthy, protein-rich foods afterwards to aid in muscle recovery and prevent overeating later in the day.
By being mindful of what you eat before and after cycling, you can achieve your weight loss goals without sacrificing performance or enjoyment on the bike.
What Not to Eat before Road Cycling?
It’s important to know what not to eat before going on a bike ride.
1- High-fat and heavy foods, such as fried food, hamburgers, or pizza, should be avoided. These types of foods take much longer to digest, which can slow down your body’s ability to absorb energy.
2- Too much fiber or gas-producing foods, like beans or broccoli, can cause stomach discomfort and affect your biking performance.
3- Sugary foods, like candy or cake, should also be avoided as they can cause a spike in blood sugar levels, leading to a quick drop in energy.
It’s best to stick to easily digestible, nutritious foods that will provide your body with the right amount of fuel without causing discomfort.
In summary, the best foods to eat before road cycling are those that provide a slow release of energy, such as oatmeal, bananas, and low-GI cereals. It is important to avoid high-sugar foods, as these can cause a rapid spike in blood glucose levels and a subsequent crash in energy. High-carb options provide essential pre-ride fuel, and drinking plenty of fluids is crucial for optimal performance. Gluten-free options can be beneficial for those with sensitive digestion.