Cycling can put your body under a lot of stress and there’s often a high energy requirement alongside a need to replace lost fluids and electrolytes from sweat. An effective nutrition plan is vital in maintaining performance and enjoying your ride – long or short! Here, our friends at High5 give us some guidance on the right nutrition for before, during and after your rides.
Fuelling, hydration and recovery
There are three key nutritional demands during your ride: carbohydrates to fuel your muscles, fluids and electrolytes to keep you hydrated, and protein for muscle repair and growth after exercise.
During higher intensity exercise such as cycling, it’s important to make sure you have sufficient stores of carbohydrate to fuel your ride. Carbohydrates serve as quick release energy to boost your endurance performance. This can come from energy drinks, gels or bars.
Did you know you can lose more than a litre of fluid for every hour you exercise? It’s key to replace fluids and electrolytes lost through sweat to retain performance and avoid cramp. Sports nutrition drinks such as High5 ZERO electrolyte tablets contain the optimal mix of electrolytes to keep you performing at your best.
You’ve probably noticed your muscles becoming sore and stiff after exercise. Post-ride nutrition is needed to reduce the damage to muscles after exercise and improve the recovery process. Taking on protein and carbohydrates after exercise can help your muscles recover and ensure you turn up to your next ride ready to go.
Your ride nutrition
It’s important to start your day with a good breakfast, especially if you plan on riding in the morning. This should be light but high in carbs, such as cereal, porridge or eggs.
In terms of timing, you should eat around 3 hours before a high-intensity ride, and around 2 hours before a lower intensity ride. This should be around 700-1000 kcal depending on your fitness goals, body weight and the ride itself.
On your ride, make sure you’re refuelling regularly. A steady supply of energy and fluids is much more beneficial than loading up everything in one go. You should be aiming for 60-90g of carbohydrates per hour, so depending on whether you’re taking on an energy drink, you might also need to take on energy from gels and bars.
If you’re drinking ZERO, one energy bar and gel per hour will provide you with just over 60g of carbohydrates. If you’re drinking an energy drink, you can take the following:
Your energy intake could come from liquid energy, such as a High5 Energy Gel Aqua or energy drinks, or solid energy, such as a High5 energy bar – or a mixture of both. For lower intensity, flatter ground you might find it better to take on solid energy and for higher intensity, hilly routes you might want to switch to liquid energy.
After an intense ride, recovery is key to getting the benefits from your efforts and getting your muscles ready for your next ride. Drink 400ml of High5 Energy Drink as soon as you finish – this contains a unique blend of whey protein isolate and carbohydrates. Eat a balanced meal one to two hours later.
Guest blog by High5.
At Halfords, we stock a variety of top High5 nutrition products. Check out the full range here and pick up the fuel you need to make your cycling sessions the best they can be.