On the Bike Foods2 of 11
Sports nutrition debuted on the scene in the mid-1980s, notably with the PowerBar brand. Now, nutrition options like bars and gels consume an entire aisle in many grocery stores. Packaging keeps them from spoiling while you ride and may also keep consumables contained and less messy than homemade options.
Pro Tip: Generally, sports nutrition items have a relatively long shelf life, but still check for expiration dates to make sure you're not buying old stock which could be stale.
Sports Gels3 of 11
Gels are an effective way to take in calories on the bike. Gels packets are designed to be easily stowed in a jersey pocket, as well as easily opened while riding. Caloric content is readily available for each single-serving packet and a variety of flavors are offered. Gels are easily digestible for most athletes and are unlikely to cause any GI distress. Some brands offer gels with caffeine content, which can be a nice mid-ride pick-me-up, especially for longer days in the saddle.
Pro Tip: Consider which flavors of gels pair with your hydration solution. A chocolate or caramel flavored gel might wash down better with water compared to a fruit flavored sports drink.
Sports Nutrition Bars4 of 11
Although liquid calories are easy to consume while riding, solid food is better for staving off hunger and feeling sated. Energy bars like PowerBar or Clif are no-brainers for on-the-bike nutrition. They are low-stress on the digestive system, are available in many different flavors and are relatively inexpensive.
Pro Tip: Open the wrappers before you put energy bars in your jersey pocket so you don't have to worry about fumbling with packaging while riding.
Chocolate Bars5 of 11
Chocolate bars are not a great option for on-the-bike nutrition.
Have you ever tried to eat a melted chocolate bar? While on your bike?
Although chocolate has nutritional value—and it's such a tasty reward for hours on the bike—chocolate bars are a poor choice for tossing in your jersey pocket. They will surely melt, even if separated from your body by even a few layers of clothing, and rather than enjoying the treat, you'll wind up smearing and wearing your snack.
Prepackaged Bite-Sized Foods6 of 11
Photo/Pete Jelliffe, Flickr
Although not marketed specifically as sports nutrition, snacks like fruit or Fig Newtons make great options for on-the-bike nutrition. Fig Newtons are a great size and easy to grab and eat without getting your hands messy. A salty snack, like Goldfish crackers, might sound like a fun idea, but their smaller size makes it more likely that half your snack will hit the road while trying to toss those little fish into your mouth.
Sandwich Bites7 of 11
A bagel with Nütella is a great pre- and mid-ride snack. Bagels make a great medium for the tasty cocoa/hazelnut spread—just choose a neutral flavor of bagel to balance the sweetness of the spread. Half or quarter cut the sandwich and put it into cling wrap for clean and easy access.
Not a fan of Nütella? Go with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich cut into quarters. Drop these bite-sized-bits into a Ziploc bag and then store in your cycling jersey pocket. Since you're the one prepping your own nutrition, you can track caloric and nutritional content relatively accurately.
Pro Tip: Use just enough cling wrap to keep your snack options fresh and contained. Too much packaging could potentially get in the way of you and your food while you're riding.
Bagged Mashed Potatoes8 of 11
Photo/Ernesto Andrade, Flickr
Taking a cue from ultrarunners who may be competing for upwards of 30 hours in a single event and often tire of the same foods on the run, a savory snack like mashed potatoes can be a really delectable change—relatively speaking—from sweet, pre-packaged carbs.
After making some mashed potatoes—creamier and less-lumpy is better for this purpose—season to taste, then let the potatoes cool and place in a Ziploc bag. The beauty of this concealment method is that it can create the perfect jersey pocket package, so you can easily eat as you go. Just tear off one end—instead of unzipping—and squeeze the carb contents like you would a toothpaste tube.
Würst on White9 of 11
This one is truly the würst—get it?! We just cannot advocate for any cured meats to go in your jersey pocket as a mid-ride snack, even if they have been cooked. Plus, white bread—or rolls—is not the most nutritious option. Nutritional research shows that you need carbohydrates while riding but only minimal fat or protein. Remember to fuel up with carbs before your ride and continue to top off your energy stores while you're in the saddle.
Banana and Peanut Butter in a Wrap10 of 11
Photo/Connoisseur 4 the Cure, Flickr
Another healthy and tasty mid-ride snack is peanut butter and banana slices rolled up in a flour burrito wrap or between a waffle. You can even sprinkle some chia seeds on for extra taste.
Pizza11 of 11
Photo/The Pizza Review, Flickr
Are you a fan of cold pizza? We are, and it makes for a great mid-ride snack. Cut your favorite pie (we suggest one not loaded with toppings as that can get messy and fall off) into smaller, manageable slices and wrap in foil. We've found that stowing smaller slices, with the cheese sides facing each other, is a lot cleaner and easier to manage.