Maximizing Cycling Performance: Proper Diet and Hydration

Archetype Themes Collaborator June 11, 2019

Maximizing Cycling Performance: Proper Diet and Hydration

Maintaining good health is crucial for virtually any athlete, and proper diet and hydration forms the basis of this. Whether you’re training for an upcoming marathon or taking it slow during the off-season, keeping your nutrition in-check lets you focus on pushing yourself during training. 

While there are a lot of tips circulating about what you should and shouldn’t eat, tracking your hydration is equally as important. At SLS3 we have written about how difficult transitioning between running and biking can be; staying hydrated, for example, keeps your joints supple and helps ease this transition. 

Here are some tips you can incorporate in your training routine: 

Consider race protein intake and eat properly before and after races. American Tour de France cyclist Ian Boswell is a nutrition junkie in his own right, and with the help of Team SKY nutritionist Dr. James Morton, Peloton Magazine noted that what he has learned about nutrition is the single most important thing he has learned in his career. For his first hour of each race, he starts with a full bottle of protein and keeps up the intake, 20-40 grams every three hours. For a boost of energy, he takes Whey 20, which is a low carb gel with 20 grams of protein to ensure muscle mass is protected on tough rides.

Across the pond, cyclist Laura Kenny is known for her sensible eating, without the fuss of fancy diet programs. Kenny sat down with Women's Health Magazine, where she credited her healthy attitude towards food as a reason behind her success. Kenny is one of the UK’s most successful female Olympians of all-time, and it was her dedication that helped her win four gold medals in London and Rio. Not only does Kenny stick to eating healthy foods, but she also plans her meals around her fitness sessions. If she’s training in the afternoon, her lunch is composed of things that are easy to digest — think beans on toast or an omelet.

Don’t wait to replenish. You don't have to wait for hunger and thirst to kick in before you replenish, as your body might already be in dire need of nutrition. Sports nutritionist James Collins suggests that riders should eat and drink at regular intervals to avoid burning out in the middle of your ride. Drinking small sips of water or eating some energy gel can quickly replenish your energy stores.  

Hydrate even before you train. You should be drinking water as early as two hours before you train, as you need to prepare your body for the sweat session you have planned ahead. About 300 to 500 ml of water is recommended, but make sure to adjust your intake according to the weather. If you’re training for a long interval, remember the previous tip and hydrate consistently. 

Introduce changes to your diet slowly. 
With new diets and supplements cropping up almost every day, it can be tempting to change your diet in the hopes of achieving quick results. So, it’s important to keep in mind that our bodies work best by adapting to change over time. For example, research found in the Journal of Human Kinetics shows that the keto diet provides maximum effects only when observed for a long period of time. One month before your race day is not enough time to introduce different types of food into your system.

Plan your post-cycling meal. What you eat after cycling is crucial, as it dictates how well your body will recover. As a general rule of thumb, make sure to consume carbohydrates and lean proteins after a workout. These will top up your body’s energy stores and help build new muscles.


Article by Lucy Smith

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