Your morning coffee might make you feel energetic and ready to tackle the route you’ve got planned for the day, but you’ll need more to fuel your ride. “If you want to move your legs and contract a muscle, that’s mechanical work, and mechanical work requires energy,” explains Allen Lim, Ph.D., exercise physiologist and founder of Skratch Labs. You get that energy from calories in food, but your body has different nutrition needs depending on if you’re riding or not.
Before You Ride
Remember that coffee isn’t food.
We all love a pre-ride coffee and the jolt of caffeine that comes with it. There’s nothing wrong with that. But coffee is not actually fuel. It makes you feel good, but there’s no calories in coffee. Add oatmeal or another carbohydrate to your pre-ride coffee ritual to ensure you have substantial calories to go with that caffeine buzz.
Start your morning with a well-rounded breakfast.
A good mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fat offers a solid foundation for your day’s ride, especially if you’re planning to be on the bike for several hours. The majority of what will be fueling you on the bike is carbohydrates, but if it’s a long ride, there’s a good chance your body will break down a little bit of muscle tissue and use some protein for fuel. Your body may also dip into your fat stores during longer rides.
Starts the day with oatmeal topped with coconut oil and nuts for some fat. We can pair it with a side of fruit and an egg for protein. Because we find that if we don’t have the protein, we get hungrier faster.
Avoid heading out to ride hungry.
Maybe you’re riding after work or during a break between classes and you don’t have time for a full meal. If you’re feeling hungry before a ride, we recommend a little bite to eat. Look for simple foods, with a high carbohydrate or sugar content. You must eat just enough to bring your blood sugar back up. We suggest a boiled potato, boiled rice, an energy gel, or a dash of extra sugar in your energy drink. As long as your blood sugar is stable during exercise, the human body is extraordinarily resilient.