Eating to Win: What We Can Learn From Pro Cyclists

As recreational riders, what can we learn from this and apply to our own riding?

Eat Primarily Carbohydrate

Like racers we are burning a mix of glycogen (from carbohydrate) and fat for fuel. Since our bodily stores of glycogen are limited, we should consume mostly carbohydrate during a ride.

Eat Plenty of Calories

Calories consumed per hour are more important than picking foods with a high GI. You should consume up to 300 calories per hour. However, if you start to bonk, go for something with a high GI.

More: Maintain Your Lean, Mean Racing Machine

Eat Unprocessed Foods

Foods with a high GI, like white rice, are highly processed and contain fewer micronutrients than unrefined foods like brown rice. We'll be healthier if we opt for less-refined foods such as fruit and whole grain products.

Recover for the Rest of the Day

For the pros, recovery starts before they even take showers! After a ride we should eat a healthy snack and drink plenty of fluids and then for the rest of the day be sure to drink enough that we are fully rehydrated and eat enough carbohydrate so that our glycogen stores are fully replenished.

Like racers we may get tired of bars and gels. Here are a couple of recipes popular with racers, which provide good nutrition at a lower cost than sports products!

More: Make Your Own Homemade Energy Gel


These small sandwiches are easy to make and quite tasty! Carry one or two in snack baggies. If it's hot to prevent spoilage you should only carry the panini for about an hour before eating.

  • 1/2 croissant or soft roll (so it's easy to chew) sliced and filled with:
  • a slice of ham or Canadian bacon
  • cream cheese
  • jam

Boiled Potatoes

You can carry and eat these all day. They're also easy to make, tastier than an energy bar and cheaper:

  • Boil 1 lb. (1/2 kg) small new red potatoes, about 15.
  • While warm, roll around in a pan with:
  • 1 cup (90 g) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
  • Salt

Like the pros you can meet your nutritional needs on the bike with a wider variety of tasty foods and be the envy of your riding buddies!

For more on pro nutrition and how to make your own sports drinks, gels and solid food, see my eArticle on

More: Determine Your Century Nutrition Plan

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