Fitness and Exercise

Fuelling for a big cycle ride or run!

This time last year I was gearing up for the Ride 100 next week, riding for Bowel Cancer UK (and raising over £5000). Sadly this year I’m not riding – mainly because I didn’t feel I could ask everyone to sponsor me again after they were all so very generous last year, but also because I’m currently in a fracture boot recovering from multiple stress fractures – so it wouldn’t be sensible lol!

However I do have clients and friends who are riding and have been asking for advice on how to fuel themselves before, during and after the ride. So I thought I’d share a few tips. These are relevant to any endurance event – not just cycling.

So here are my tips!

In the week leading up to the big ride try to eat normally but well, so have three good meals a day, and snacks as needed, avoid all alcohol, and get some good carbs in where possible (brown rice, sweet potato etc).

48hrs before the ride is the time to start ‘Carb loading’. Carbs are the best source of fuel, so you need to make sure your muscles are full of glycogen before the ride. For the 48 hours before the ride, base all your meals around carbs and have carb based snacks throughout the day. So for example breakfast could be cereal, toast with peanut butter and banana, fruit and yogurt.

For lunch, go for wraps, jacket potato, pasta salad etc. And for dinner, try to eat something rice-based, pasta, or lean meat/veggie protein with potatoes. Have something like yogurt and fruit for desert.

For snacks go for energy drinks, dried fruits, and cereal bars.

On the ride day morning have a good carb-based breakfast two hours before the start (or as early as you can if you have a very early start time). Aim for at least two servings of any of these: cereal, toast and jam, porridge with fruit juice, and cereal bars and yogurt.

When you’re actually on the ride the glycogen supplies in the muscles will last about 90 mins so you need to keep topping up. Don’t worry about the first 45 minutes, but from there you need to take in around 60g of carbs every hour (the maximum amount an average body can absorb). energy drinks, gels, bars, or other easy-to-digest carb snacks are good as they’re designed for easy digestion and quick absorption. Or you could go for cereal bars chopped up or dried fruit. My preference was chopped up cereal bars and jelly tots 🙂

Be careful during the ride and avoid any foods such as cake, biscuits, pastries, crisps or sandwiches containing cheese or mayonnaise. These are high in fat and will sit heavy in the stomach, taking time to digest. This will make the following 10-15 miles after the stop quite uncomfortable so not ideal!

At the end of the ride you need to replenish the glycogen stores in the muscles and repair the damage to your muscles so you need fast digesting carbs and protein so things like scrambled eggs on white toast, white rice and chicken and veg, tuna pasta etc

An ideal post ride drink is chocolate milk – perfect combo of carbs and protein etc so try to have that as soon as possible after you finish. You can also get various protein based recovery drinks which work too.

Then get back to normal eating after that!

So there you go – a few tips for you! Note I’m not suggesting specific foods as such – just giving examples and the figures on timing and quantity of carbs etc are based on scientific studies and evidence based research. This is what I’ve done every year and I’ve always been fine and recovered quickly and not ‘crashed’ (energy-wise) during the Ride.

Hope that helps – safe riding everyone! See you there next year! 🤗xx

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