When it comes to energy and nutrition needs for mountain bikers, or for that matter, any type of physical activity, it’s important to remember that every person is different. Trial and error will always be the only way to devise a plan for eating before or after mountain biking, one that works perfectly with your lifestyle!
It’s worth remembering that your body stores roughly an hour or two of fuel, so it’s essential to refuel during heavy endurance activities, like mountain biking.
What’s the best way for cyclists of all levels to successfully achieve their goals? WATER! It’s what keeps us alive and performing at our top form day after day. It’s also vital to stay hydrated as water regulates how nutrients interact and function within your body.
Whilst sports drinks are brilliant and provide added electrolytes and nutrition, a bottle of water for the ride is an essential for optimum performance.
You’ll need to focus on pre ride, during the ride and post ride nutrition, to ensure you’re fit and strong during all stages of the ride:
Pre- ride nutrition
Eating well before a ride can make or break your performance and enjoyment. The type of food you eat will have an impact on both how strong, comfortable (or not!), and fast-paced the ride is. A great way to start the morning is with a bowl of oatmeal, whole wheat bread and quinoa. Adding almond butter can give you the energy needed for an active day while keeping calories low enough to not impact with weight loss or training goals!
Bananas are a great way to get your potassium and other nutrients, like magnesium which can help regulate blood pressure. They also taste delicious!
The perfect breakfast should have some form of electrolytes along with protein; this will keep you energised all day long.
During the ride
Generally, nutrition during the ride will fall into one of two categories:
· High -carb, low-fat foods like gummy bears, figs, dates, salty pretzels
· Energy bars and gels and sport- specific options
Neither of these options are incorrect, and you can also choose a mixture of both. The rule here is to stick to your choice and make sure you maintain a variety of tastes.
You’ll need to make sure you’re fuelled up during stages of the ride. Here are some suggestions for the varying stages:
15 minutes before you start
1 gel packet + 250ml water + 2 energy chews to top up your glycogen stores and make sure your body has plenty of fuel to begin the ride.
45 minutes into the ride
1 gel packet + 250 ml water + 1 energy bar
2 hours and counting
1 gel packet + 500ml of water + energy bar or substitute
More than 3 hours
1 gel packet every hour + 250ml of water + roughly 100 calories for every additional hour you ride. A sports drink can be beneficial and a great addition to your water intake.
Post- ride nutrition
Tired muscles are most sensitive to insulin immediately after exercise, which means the sooner you eat and drink post ride (or workout), more nutrients will go directly into your needy muscles rather than fat cells or inactive tissues.
A great choice at this stage is recovery drink, especially if you don’t have time to prepare a post-ride meal before your workout. The best mixes contain 4 grams of carbohydrates for every gram of protein, with 300mg of sodium per 16 oz. These drinks will help you begin your recovery until you’re able to consume a full meal.
In summary, eat well before you exercise, consume water regularly, and never ignore your thirst. Make sure you eat often during exercise, and re-fuel properly post workout. It’s worth working on a fuelling system that works best for your body, and for the conditions you plan to ride in.
Melbourne Bike Show
Celebrate your love for the sport by connecting with fellow bike fanatics and industry professionals at the Melbourne Bike Show. Meet those you’ve only known online (or rode alongside) and create new connections, while sharing an experience you won’t find anywhere else. Held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from the 10th to the 11th of September 2022, this is a unique bike celebration and showcase that can’t be missed.
Purchase your tickets to the Melbourne Bike Show.