Excerpted from eatright.org by Holly Larson, MS, RD – Nutrition expert, freelance writer, and owner of Grass Roots Nutrition based in Oxford, OH.
Good nutrition is key for maintaining energy throughout your ride, and it’s especially important for longer rides. When exercising, your body is largely fueled by carbohydrates. Some carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles, but you need to continue adding fuel to your body during a long bike ride.
Starting with a ‘full tank’ and keeping hydrated is important, but the longer you ride and the more hills you power up, the more you’ll need some healthy snacks to keep your energy up. Plan to keep snacks on board for any bike ride over an hour.
What makes a good cycling snack? Here are a few ideas as you pack your lunch kit. Look for foods that will give you energy, are portable, provide your muscles with the nutrients they need, and can’t melt. Pack more snacks than you think you need! Be sure to eat on a regular schedule, such as having a few bites of food and a few sips of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes.
Five super snacks to tuck into your jersey pockets:
Powered by the Peel:
Bananas are snacks ready to roll! Known for their potassium, they also contain carbohydrates that help your muscles to use the fuel efficiently. More fuel reaching your muscles means more pedal power for your ride!
PB&J’s are not just for kids – they are the perfect pocket fuel! The bread and jam (or honey) provide carbohydrates and the peanut butter (or almond butter) offers protein and fats. Cut into quarters and have one piece every 15 to 20 minutes.
Dried fruits and nuts are a concentrated source of carbohydrates. Dried apricots, prunes and raisins also have potassium. Mix your favorite fruits with nuts and seeds to keep your body supplied with energy, vitamin E and magnesium. If you sweat a lot, choose salted nuts and seeds.
If you’re planning to cycle for an hour or less, water is the best way to stay hydrated. If you’re going to be out for more than an hour, or the weather is very hot, carry two bottles, one with water and one with a sports drink. Sip often to stay hydrated and alternate between the two drinks.
Energy bars are a convenient way to quickly recharge. Look for bars that have whole ingredients such as whole grains, dried fruits, honey and nuts. Select one that has a higher percentage of calories from carbohydrates than from protein or fat.