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Any cyclists around?

How do you eat? After a three year hiatus I'm back on the bike for about 25-30 miles a day, 7 a week. I don't have much muscle soreness afterwards but am pretty slow and worthless for the rest of the day after my morning ride. I imagine I'm not recovering right.

I eat about 400 kcal an hour or two before riding, for breakfast. Typically fruit. Lately I've noticed my speed dropping a lot about an hour into my ride. I don't eat while riding (merits debatable on such a short spurt, I prefer to keep spinning), and I don't use energy supplements. I've tried no carbs upon recovery, lots of carbs upon recovery, to about the same effect - I'm pretty sluggish for the rest of the day. What sort of diet do you eat that keeps you energized throughout the day after a hard ride?

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  1. If I am riding for more than 20 miles, I keep some candy with me. Get's the juices flowing and makes for something to look forward to. Never chocolate or anything heavy. Fruity types of candies. I ride 5-6 days a week from 10-40 miles a day. I enjoy carb heavy meals that feature veggies whenever hungry. I don't hold myself to a schedule, when I am hungry, I eat. I enjoy pasta, rice, beans, bread, bagels, pizza, etc. I I am not health crazy, but this has worked for me for the 10 years that biking has been part of my daily commute. Good luck blkery.

    1. Fruit as a pre-ride meal doesn't do much for you--not enough calories, not accessible quickly enough. You want something like oatmeal, toast, etc. If gluten causes probs, try potatoes or rice. That may be why your speed and energy drop after an hour or so--you've run through your stored glycogen and don't have any ready carbs in your system. My standard pre-ride meal is a nuked potato with butter and cheese to slow absorption. For 25 - 30 miles, you should be fine without sports drinks, gels, or bars but you do need to drink water.

      Your post-ride meal should have protein and carbs. Protein is for muscle recovery--carbs don't help in that department--but you need carbs to replace what you burned. Chocolate milk is actually a fast and effective recovery food--has protein, carbs, and a little fat (just don't chug a gallon of it). You should have a full meal within an hour after getting off the bike--that's the window when your body wants to start recovery. The protein doesn't need to be animal-based but you do need a good chunk, esp if you're riding every day--can't tell you the exact amount but I'm sure you can find it via google or bing.

      Also be sure to push water all the time, not just on the bike. It's what you ate and drank yesterday and the day before and the day before that that will affect your performance on the day of a ride, so if you're riding every day, you have to keep on it.

      Keep the rubber side down!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Erika L

        This pretty much mirrors my own regimen with the exception of the fluids - on rides of an hour or longer, I'll drink a sports drink to replace electrolytes. If I'm riding less than an hour, I just drink water. I think the most important part, tho, is to eat within an hour after getting off the bike to maximize the recovery.

      2. I generally go on a 30 mile ride once a week (I generally run on other days), and maybe a century every month or so.

        On my weekly 30 mile rides, I won't fuel up or during my rides. Just some water when I'm riding. Post-ride, it'll be a normal breakfast of some combo of eggs, yogurt, toast, fruit (bananas, apples, melons, etc.). If I'm feeling particularly bad, I'll head out to McDonald's and get two Filet-O-Fish sandwiches and wash it down with a Vanilla milkshake.

        On my century rides, I also don't fuel up or during the ride. Just water. And, post ride? Definitely the McDonald's route, except it's three Filet-O-Fish sandwiches ...

        I can't eat when I'm on the saddle unless it's a full day ride (e.g. 200+ miles), and then it's just a shot of some gels or half a Twinkie and some diluted Mountain Dew mixed with water. I just don't like eating while pedaling ...

        1. There are several excellent posts by MSPD in this thread from 2006 that might interest you: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3100...


          1. It sounds as if you're not giving your body the rest it needs to recover. If you're riding the same distance at the same speed every day -- you won't ever really recover -- especially if you're riding hard every time.

            It sounds like you're suffering from overtraining, not improper diet.

            1. swimmer here, not a rider. anyway, this stuff eliminated the post-workout crash for me. It's like gatorate, only better. I drink it if I swim more than, say, a mile. It really works.

              but aside from that, you gotta eat carbs before the workout - complex seems to last longer but it really doesn't make that much of a difference for me. I get some of my best exertion about an hour after a huge pancake breakfast

              1. BEFORE: 400 cal is a lot of fruit! Unless it's dried fruit, I don't see how you can eat that much fruit and not have some stomach distress on the bike. Also, 1-2 hours pre-ride is too long to go without eating. I think you should eat a powerbar or something similar right before you get on the bike. If I wanted to eat that far in advance, i'd probably opt for steel cut oats, or a whole grain bagel. You also need a little protein...some yogurt, milk, cottage cheese, peanut butter, or the protein in a powerbar.

                DURING: I don't eat during training rides either, unless they are going to be longer than a couple of hours OR if I really want to do well. In that case, I'll do a PowerGel (I'm rather attached to the Tangerine flavor w 2x caffeine.) For instance, in a race last week, I had a Powerbar and hour before, a PowerGel on the start line and another gel about 45 minutes in.

                AFTER: Ditto what Erika said...you've got about an hour to replace carbs and protein. Carbs to get glyogen back in your muscles and protein to help them rebuild. If I'm going to be longer than that before I have my next meal, I try to get a yogurt drink or a small burger from McD's or 1/2 a bar or something in the interim.

                Brian may have a point. 7 days a week is a bunch of training. I only work our 4-5 times a week. Some of my work-outs are a longer than yours, but I always get a few rest days. My best friend trained so hard and so often this year for both cycling (she cat-ed up) and a marathon, that she wound up w/ some vitamin deficiencies and feels like total crap and is currently taking multiple weeks off to get over her fatigue. Previous to this, I assumed that "overtraining" was more mental burnout than anything physical, but now I've changed my mind.

                Finally, a couple of questions: after your hiatus, how long did it take you to build up to 24-30 miles a day, 7 days a week? how long does you ride take? how much water are you drinking? Do you get enough carbs in your regular diet? do you eat meat?

                1 Reply
                1. re: danna


                  You bring up a good point esp. about eating meat. If the OP is feeling fatigued there may be a chance that he (or she) is anemic and needs to have his (or her) iron levels checked.

                2. For a 30-40 mile ride, I'll consume 2 pcs of toast with peanut butter a half hour before heading out. On the ride itself, one water bottle is filled with lightly flavoured gatorade and the second is filled with just water. Depending on how I'm feeling, I may consume half a Clif (I like the chocolate chip peanut crunch ones) bar on the ride home. I'll eat something within a half hour at the end of my ride otherwise I'll end up feeling famish and/or sleepy all day long. I can't get into the gels though, they all taste gross to me. Maybe I haven't found a flavour I like yet. Any recs on which ones people have found tasty?!

                  When I'm out playing beach volleyball (2s for about 3-4 hours), I'll start the day with peanut butter toast also and will replenish hourly with fruit (frozen pineapple, peaches, strawberry, banana and or apples). I'll consume a combination of water and gatorade (depending on the heat and humidity) throughout the play and will usually inhale a sandwich with protein (salami, prosciutto, bacon) when I stop playing. Liquid and sodium seem to work for me.