When you're heading out for a long stint in the saddle, the key to success is a comfortable chamois and plenty of fuel. Eating for an endurance ride is a bit more complicated than fueling for an intense crit race or 90-minute morning spin. To keep your body going hour after hour at a consistently strong pace, it takes lots of energy from both simple and complex carbohydrates along with a small amount of protein to keep muscles from breaking down and fat to keep the body satisfied. Paying attention to extra nutrients like branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) and sodium intake during a long ride will help your body go the extra mile.
In short, a long ride requires more complex nutrition than your gel and banana strategy, so don't be afraid to stuff your pockets with whole food options. And remember, it is always better to come home with extra snacks than bonk with miles to go.
The following snacks are sports dietician-approved and perfect options for long, grueling rides.
Any combination of nut butter and jam or honey on bread is a simple option that requires little prep yet provides solid nutrition. For those who aren't fond of nut butter—or just want a more savory option—add a heap of hummus and avocado to your bread. Pro Tip: Add a generous pinch of salt to the filling for extra fuel and flavor.
White rice is a great option for providing energy, as well as an ingredient that is easy to buy and prepare. Mix in ingredients for satiety and flavor, such as amino acids, dates, nut butter or bacon.
Waffles or Pancakes
These mixes require adding oil (fat) and egg (protein), which help provide a more balanced fuel source. This option does double duty as your pre-ride meal and perfect jersey pocket snack. Simply wrap a few extra to stick in your kit pockets to enjoy during your ride. Get creative by mixing in potential performance enhancers, like beet powder, or try this boosted waffle recipe.
These power-packed bites are essentially granola bars rolled into smaller, easier-to-consume balls. Many rely on dates and oats, which are excellent ingredients to provide a balance of slow- and fast-burning energy. Try making your own (it's super simple) with this caffeinated energy bite recipe.
Trail Mix With Jerky
For those adventure rides when you're spending all day exploring, this option is great to have a handful of at each of your lookout or rest points. Make a mix that contains dried fruit, nuts, pretzels and good quality beef jerky. It might sound like an odd mix, but adding the jerky provides protein, salt and a savory flavor.
READ THIS NEXT: Best Ways to Refuel After a Hard Cycling Workout