Fuelling (eating while cycling) is often the last thing on your mind when you start cycling however, it's essential to get in those calories when you start clocking up the miles. Whether it's for a long session on the turbo, tackling lots of hills or a fast flat bun run, you need the energy to get you from A to B, and back again.
If you have ever been on a cycle, and suddenly started to feel that the last 5km were like 20km, it's probably because you haven't been fuelling correctly during your ride. Simply snacking whilst pedalling helps to top up your blood glucose and provides fuel to the muscles at work so you can maintain energy.
Often researching deep diving this topic can be overwhelming, and most information online is targeted at performance cyclists.
This guide is aimed at riders who are easing their way into longer rides rather than performance athletes. We will discuss what works best for us and what we find easiest while we are cycling. We will also introduce you to some of our favourite products.
6 simple tips and guidelines to help you:
1. Fuelling starts the day before:
A good carb-heavy lunch and/or dinner will set you up with easy-to-reach each energy stores for the next day's ride. Roasted sweet potatoes are a fave /a small bowl of pasta for dinner. Make sure you include protein and healthy fats to ensure a balanced meal.
Photo credit: Nathan Dumlao
2. Pre-plan your snacks:
If you're going on a ride the next day make sure you have your snacks ready the day before, this will ensure that even if your favourite coffee shop is closed you still have sustenance to keep you going.
3. Frequency is key:
We try to aim for a small amount every 30 minutes. This can be a quick bite of a snack bar, sandwich, or around 3/4 nuts. If forgetting to snack is something you struggle with we recommend you set 30-minute reminders on your smartwatch - or, if you have a GPS unit set it to alter you/beep after every 10-15km which will prompt you to have your snack.
Stowing your snacks somewhere that is easy to reach is a time saver and will enable you to snack mid-ride. We keep our snacks in our cycling jersey pockets or our bar bags for easy access.
Photo credit: Alice Alphrey
5. Alternate salt & sugar:
We find that having a variety of snacks means we get a better balance of nutrition while on the bike. Veloforte bars & chews are an easy & delicious choice, a handful of nuts (salted) or a cheese sandwich are also ideal. We recommend that you vary your snacks as sticking to sugary snacks can often lead to short bursts of energy actually followed by even bigger drops in energy.
Our snacks on a 100km ride: Veloforte bar, cheese sandwich, coffee stop croissant, Veloforte chews and finally some Candy Kittens for the last few kilometres (they're vegan & super tasty).
It's important to note that something that is more important than eating while cycling is making sure that you drink enough water. Staying hydrated while being active is essential as you are losing water through perspiration and, believe it or not, breathing. Something I like to do to ensure I always drink water is that every time I think of having a snack, I take a sip of water before I reach for my nibbles.
Disclaimer: We would like to caveat that we aren't nutritionists, this is simply how we fuel while we ride. Please remember that every person has unique nutrition requirements and if you are looking for professional advice we encourage you to contact a nutrition specialist. You know your body best, and then hitting the right nutrition on a ride or training session is a lot of trial and error before getting it completely correct for your individual needs.