4 Tips on what to eat and drink for long distance cycling : Singapore Cycling Series

Prepare yourself with the right knowledge on cycling nutrition before your first or your next long distance cycle


Cycling can be both rewarding and challenging as a sport, and at a time where travel is restricted, it is fast becoming one of the most popular individual sports for recreational athletes.

Beyond just knowing how to cycle however, preparing yourself for cycling long-distances of 50KM or 100KM require proper knowledge on nutrition - things to eat and things you should avoid.

In this fifth episode of The Better Show, host and triathlete Cheryl Tay speaks with Claire Jedrek, who is also an avid cyclist, in order to share some useful knowledge on how you can consume the right foods on your next long ride.

If you've been cycling and would like to go for longer distances, you would realise that you tire more easily or find your energy levels draining after a certain distance.

This is because our bodies need consistent replenishing and refueling. Water and isotonic drinks are not enough if you are looking to go for much longer distances in cycling.

So what are Claire's and Cheryl's usual eating routines before, during and after a long distance cycle?


1. Have carbs and start hydrating 1 - 2 days before your long ride

Widely termed as carbo loading or carb loading, carbohydrate loading is a nutritional strategy involving several days of eating more carbs than usual, usually the week before a long endurance activity, while decreasing exercise so as to reduce the amount of carbs you are using.

This is done to increase the glycogen stored in your body above its normal amount.

Some good carb options are rice, pasta, potatoes.

Also remember to start your hydration a couple of days before the ride and not just during your cycle itself!


2. Have something light, preferably low glycemic index foods, 90 minutes before your ride

Eating too much just before long distance cycling is generally not recommended. If you must have a big meal, have it at least 2-4 hours prior to your ride.

Stick to lighter low glycemic index foods 90 minutes before your ride, including energy bars which could aid you with the energy boost.


Other good options are bananas, energy gels (for an added boost), fresh fruits and cereals. Some may also like the idea of taking caffeine 60 minutes before their rides.

Every rider has different levels of comfort and preferences so it is fine to experiment with which works the best for you, and which you like the most.


3. Take something light, like energy gels, every 30 to 45 minutes of the ride

Sustaining your energy levels during a long ride is the trickiest of the lot. Our bodies need regular replenishment of what it's lost, and this isn't just water.

Refueling with the right kind of foods is important - but overeating would also cause distress and severe discomfort.

Here, some cyclists would go for energy gels and bananas every 30 - 45 minutes for the quick fix, and also learning to take short breaks during much longer rides is also key. Endurance fuels are also a popular option among long distance cyclists.

So what are the foods you should avoid consuming before a long ride?


Avoid fried food, spicy food, and alcohol before and during your ride

Even if you are not a fan of eating clean all the time, there are certain types of food which are generally not recommended the night before and on the day of your long distance cycling.

Try to avoid oily food, fried foods, spicy foods (especially a no no!) and alcohol the night before your long distance ride - spicy foods have a propensity of causing stomach upsets and would make for a much less enjoyable cycling experience.


4. Replenish with carbs and protein within 60 minutes after your ride

Now that you have completed your first long distance cycle, give yourself a pat on the back! However, we are not quite done yet with nutrition.

It is important to continue to replenish your body with fluids, carbohydrates and protein after the ride, as part of your recovery regime.

It is also important to know the difference between recovery foods used after a gym workout versus recovery foods after an endurance activity such as running or cycling over an hour.

Higher carbohydrate meals are most beneficial after endurance activities, while consuming protein in combination with moderate carbohydrate, is better after strength training.

For each episode of The Better Show, Orange Room is giving away $50 cash to one lucky winner, as their way of supporting your fitness journey. All your names will also go into the grand draw of $1,000 cash at their year end celebration!

The Better Show is a brand new series brought to you by Orange Room and hosted by Cheryl Tay to help enrich your active lifestyle and empower you with the right skills to help you in your cycling, running and swimming endeavours.

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