When you’re preparing for a cycling challenge, it can be easy to overlook your diet, but what you’re putting into your body is one of the requisites for success – after all, food is fuel! What you’re eating makes all the difference to your energy levels and performance, so it’s important to get it right…
The day before
The best source of fuel for your body? Carbs, carbs, and more carbs. The day before your challenge, make carbohydrates the basis for all of your meals and snacks. For breakfast, go for cereal or toast with fruit and yoghurt. At lunchtime, opt for pasta salad, wraps, sandwiches or jacket potatoes, and then load up on rice or pasta with lean meat and vegetables for dinner – you need protein, but go for lighter proteins such as chicken or fish.
Your body can only store a certain amount of energy from the glycogen it gets from carbohydrates, so don’t overdo your portion sizes – you don’t really need to ‘carb load’!
Make sure that you drink plenty of water the day before, too – aim for around eight glasses, to ensure that you are fully hydrated.
The morning of the challenge
Aim to eat breakfast two hours before the race. You’ll need something carbohydrate-based (of course!), so porridge is the ideal choice, but cereal with toast and jam, cereal bars and yoghurt will also provide the energy that you need.
During the ride
To maintain your energy levels, you’ll need to keep refuelling at regular intervals. After the first 45 minutes or so of cycling, aim to ingest around 60g of carbs per hour. This works out at around two cereal bars, two bananas or 500ml of an isotonic energy drink. They’re easy to digest and are absorbed quickly, so they’re a great way to replenish your energy. Avoid anything high in fat, such as cakes, pastries or anything containing cheese or mayonnaise, as they are harder to digest and can make you feel sluggish.
After the ride
You may be tempted to celebrate with a blow-out, but your body needs some TLC to recover from the ride! You’ll need to replace muscle glycogen and help to repair any muscle damage, so high-GI carbs and protein are crucial – think scrambled eggs on toast, tuna pasta or chicken and potatoes. Make sure you drink plenty of water and sports drinks too, as you will have lost a significant amount of sweat during the challenge.
If you have any questions or would like any advice on how to prepare for your ride, just contact our team!