food and drink

Cycling Food And Drink Guide

Ride stronger with an energy strategy

Energy and recovery products will start you off full of energy, give an extra boost mid-ride and help your body recover afterwards.

While there's no substitute for a healthy, balanced diet, food and drink supplements are designed to work quickly, be easy to digest and easy to transport. Products are separated between before, during and after riding to match your body's different requirements needed while exercising.

Before and during riding

What to eat, when

Before or during a ride, you'll find the higher concentration of carbohydrates of energy bars beneficial.

Energy drinks replace electrolytes lost during the ride in order to keep you going, keep cramps at bay and prevent dehydration.

If you're riding a long distance, you will need to keep your energy levels constant, making sure you eat and drink before you are feeling hungry or thirsty, to give your refreshment time to work its magic.

Science in Sport tent providing hydration and needed energy food gels for road cyclists

Eat a light but carbohydrate packed meal 2-3 hours before a race, making sure you have enough time to digest it. While exercising, you need roughly 30-60g of carbohydrates over each hour, along with 100-150ml of fluid every 15-20 minutes.

Don't try any new food or drink, energy or otherwise, on a race day, in case it causes digestion problems, and bear in mind that some energy products are an acquired taste, so try them before you use them.

It's easy to forget to replenish your body after a ride, and this really needs to be done in the hour after.

Post ride products contain more protein to help rebuild muscles, provide easy absorption of carbohydrates and protein and help your body to rehydrate.

What's on the menu?

Tasty treats to chew or gulp

Energy and recovery food and drink comes in three forms - drinks (or powder for mixing), gels and bars.

They contains a combination of carbohydrate, electrolyte and protein, which are carefully balanced to enhance performance, improve recovery and maintain constant energy levels.

Energy bars

Comfort foods

Energy bars resemble cereal bars

They are carbohydrate-packed, nutritious, and easy to digest, although they do require a little fumbling around to rip into them.

Unlike cereal bars they have specific nutrients designed to enhance sports performance.

A keen cyclists recharging his energy stores with a energy bar

Energy gels

'Exgelerate' that bit faster

Energy gels come in sachet form and are easily slurped while on the move. They come in various flavours and are quickly digested.

The caffeine content is perfect to help you get a second wind, while nutrients give your muscles a hand.

A steward showing a cyclist a range of SiS Energy gels on offer.

Energy drinks

Liquid motivation

Energy drinks are very easy to consume and are less substantial physically than bars for those who have trouble digesting food on the move.

They can be made up beforehand or on the go and tend to have a stronger taste.

A group of road cyclists taking a break and hydrating themselves.

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