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.
After You Ride
Eat a mix of carbohydrates and protein directly after your ride.
Timing is an important element of recovery, especially if you’re planning to ride again the following day. When we stop riding, our bodies are still breaking down muscle tissue, and we want to stop that process and restock our muscle glycogen stores. A mix of carbohydrates and proteins is ideal for this purpose, whether it’s a protein shake or turkey sandwich.
Use your post-ride hours to round out your nutrition needs.
When you’re eating to fuel your ride, you may not be fulfilling all your nutritional needs. Simple foods such as a rice or an energy gel provide quick energy, but don’t contain much in the way of nutrients. Outside of activity, you want to think about the nutrition you get, How much fiber do I get? What are the vitamins and minerals that I’m getting?
Fill up on nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains. We recommend looking for colorful foods. Kale over iceberg lettuce or sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. Colorful foods are generally more dense in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
Get good rest by avoiding high-energy foods before bed.
Getting good sleep will help you feel excited and ready to ride again the next day. Avoid coffee and foods with a high sugar content before bed. You don’t want a big bowl of chocolate ice cream and coffee before bed. Try a cup of chamomile tea. Or look for drink mixes that include valerian root, which can help you sleep.