What to eat before, during and after going on a bicycle
Food is essential to lead a healthy lifestyle but also to get the most out of your body in sports such as cycling. For this it is very important that you pay close attention to everything you are going to eat before, during and after riding a bike, as the saying goes we are the ones who eat.
Obviously the extremes are never good so we are not asking you to give up a good ice cream now that the heat is approaching or that you stop eating carbohydrates simply because you have heard voices that these fat. The food has to be varied and according to our energy needs so you should not eat the same the day you train 4 hours than the day you have rest.
Do not forget that food is our fuel, so if you do not want to go all day with the reservation it is vital that you follow some basic guidelines in your diet. With this same purpose we have created a small guide in which we tell you what you should eat before, during and after cycling.
The first intake is the most important in the sense that it should provide you with the energy necessary to start the activity. It is also the intake that will determine the performance during the first hours of exercise and that therefore will also determine your result.
In most cases this intake coincides with breakfast. The food that many consider the most important of the day and that has to adapt to the demands of the day.
There are many types of breakfast both at the level of nutrients and tastes so you can prepare the one you most want. The main thing is that in demanding days (competition or bicycle touring) breakfast at least 2 hours before the digestive system has time to do the digestion.
In a cyclist breakfast must appear carbohydrates and other nutritional sources such as fat or protein since the latter help to improve the absorption of nutrients. Another important issue is the routine. If you are used to breakfast fruit and slices of bread with jam, avocado or eggs do not light up the day of the race and you take the fabulous idea of breakfast milk with cereals. The body ends up getting accustomed to routines so that it is not convenient to make inventions on the day of the race and even less with "problematic" foods such as dairy products. Focus on having breakfast what you know that your body feels good and controls the amounts depending on the distance and exigency of the output.
In this first meal it is important that you do not neglect the liquid either. Drink water or isotonic drink to make sure you start the competition properly hydrated. It is also a good time to ingest some coffee that will wake you up and give you some "spark" in the first bars. Do not go with caffeine or energy drinks because depending on how much they can cause cramps.
The point is reached that many cyclists overlook. The point of eating while we are on top of the bicycle. A fundamental aspect to ensure that we have enough fuel to reach the end and that this way we will rid the feared "pájara".
All cyclists should ALWAYS leave with some food in their pocket. You do not need to take a whole pack of energy bars or a sandwich, but a simple bar, a banana or some nuts can save you from more than one haste.
Although to make a couple of hours may seem unnecessary, the body and energies sometimes take an unexpected turn when you least expect it. You would not be the first nor the last one who, because he does not want to look like a glober, chokes on the last kilometers of the route.
On the other hand, the days that present a higher demand, be it the rhythm or the mileage, must be dealt with more prudently. A prudence that could be interpreted as pockets fuller. These days I recommend you go out with energy bars, with some banana but also with some energy gel. The gels are assimilated much more quickly and the intake is much more comfortable. In times of high rhythm depending on what type of bar can cost a lot to chew.
If you suffer from cramps the bananas can be very useful thanks to its high content of potassium and magnesium.
As for bars comment that the nutritional percentage of these usually vary depending on the moment. The bars with the highest percentage of carbohydrates and sugar must be consumed before exceeding 70% of the route. Once this line is overcome, what you can eat will hardly be digested, so that from then on an energetic gel can be the only way of salvation. Once the equator of the test is passed, it is best to start introducing bars with a higher percentage of protein thinking about the recovery process.
On the other hand it is not advisable to neglect the hydration since this will condition our performance from the middle of the exit. Water and isotonic drink can be a great option. As for quantities say that Once the first hour is passed, the intake of 0.5 liters per hour of activity is recommended. Neither do you obsess over the quantities, each person is a world so knowing your body can help you plan the hydration of the test or training.
In this last section I would differentiate two stages. The first is the one that happens as soon as we get off the bike and the second one is the one that passes until the next voluminous meal (in most cases, dinner).
The first, known as metabolic window, is the phase that lasts until 30-45 minutes after the end of the activity. In this time interval our body is still active and is very receptive to assimilate everything we offer. Perfect time to moisturize but also to eat, to begin to regain strength and regenerate muscle tissue. For the purists we can say that we put aside a process of catabolism to start one of anabolism.
The most advisable thing is to take "simple" carbohydrates, fast absorption Quickly go into the blood and allow you to regulate your insulin levels. These carbohydrates can be found in fruit, nuts or juices. If the activity has been very demanding you can accompany them with sugary drink and rich in electrolytes.
Some take advantage of the metabolic window to take your recovery shake. A very practical option, and effective to accelerate the recovery. The market offers a wide variety of sports nutrition products so you can choose between different values and nutritional compositions as appropriate. Another option is to prepare a homemade protein shake.
The second point comes when we sit down to dinner. The dinner after a competition is very important to be as recovered as possible the next day. At dinner you should include carbohydrates but also incorporate significant amounts of protein that help regenerate the muscle. Accompany the dish with some vegetables or a little salad to help you maintain good hydration.
If in the following day you return to have competition or a demanding training, the amount of carbohydrates should increase with respect to a possible day of active recovery.
Remember, do not obsess, try to eat healthy and varied and do not forget that "we are the ones who eat"