Feeding in cycling


As in any sporting activity, the right diet is a cornerstone of cycling and cycling practice.

Cycle tourism, at whatever level is meant, is a sport-recreational-philosophical practice that involves a prolonged effort of several hours.

This is why adequate nutrition is required so as not to be half-way through a crisis of hunger or thirst which makes it impossible for us to continue at a decent pace.

My goal is to provide some key concepts regarding the different characteristics of food and what are the fuels that our body requires before during and after the cycling effort.


Carbohydrates: Pasta, bread, rice …

They could define the true fuel of the cyclist: the carbohydrates in the digestive phase are transformed into glucose, which is used by our muscles to produce energy.

There are 2 types of carbohydrates: complex and simple.

While complex carbohydrates undergo various metabolic processes resulting in slow assimilation, simple carbohydrates undergo far fewer processes and are a more immediate source of energy.

In cycling complex carbohydrates are a source of nutrition of primary importance: the energy produced by them is in fact absorbed by the body slowly and progressively and therefore ideal for the need of lasting energy.

Simple carbohydrates, on the other hand, represent an excellent source of immediate energy, but their very limited duration makes them less effective if not at times when a peak of energy is required.

In a healthy diet carbohydrate should provide at least 50-60% (especially complex carbohydrates, the percentage of simple ones should be around 7-8%) of the daily caloric intake.



Protein: Meat, fish, eggs …

Proteins are transformed by our body into amino acids, which have the function of repairing tissues and building new muscles.

Fats: Dairy products, oil …

Not all fats are bad, far from it. If it is true that saturated fats slow down the metabolism and induce the increase in cholesterol, unsaturated fats are necessary for the absorption of vitamins and represent an excellent long-lasting energy source.



Some tips on sports nutrition:

It is essential to pay attention to food before, during and after physical effort:

we will need to accumulate the necessary energy reserves before tackling the effort, supply ourselves in the best way during the stage and reintegrate our body at the end of “fatigue” .

Before starting, it is advisable to take many complex carbohydrates (cereals, pasta, rice, wholemeal flour sandwiches); during it is important to eat light and easily assimilated foods with a certain continuity. Simple carbohydrates can be added to complex carbohydrates. The main foods that can be taken during the effort are cakes, sweets, bars or specific drinks and sandwiches.

After the hard work, we create the so-called “window” of 30 minutes:

half an hour in which our body accelerates the ability to use carbohydrates especially when combined with proteins. Very important than a good refueling at the end of the race: ideal are sandwiches with tuna or butter, sweets, yogurt etc …

The day after the stage, especially if it took a lot of effort, it is necessary to fill up with proteins for the reconstruction of muscle fibers.

Lastly, perhaps the most banal, but absolutely fundamental advice: during a physical effort the main integration that our body needs is liquids.

Dehydration is a phenomenon that can happen very easily if proper attention is not given to it. The advice is to hydrate you often drinking about a liter of water (perhaps with the addition of mineral salts) every 2 hours.

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  • Joy gateru

    Thank you for sharing such an informative post, personally I do cycling but I never bother on the nutrition, I tend to believe that it’s all about a Balance diet as I can see some carbohydrates, proteins, and others are still included, personally I do cycling for leisure and also as a hobby, I really appreciate coming across this post I have learnt much from it, also I like the way you attached some affiliate links to products that you are marketing, it’s easy now to purchase the right product, I am sure to subscribe to your newsfeed to learn more about this and other posts from you, thank you.

    From Joy.

  • Steve Tuggle

    Great article Luc!  To the point, yet full of useful info.  Could you give more info about complex carbohydrates, please?  The only thing I heard about cyclists is that they eat a lot of spaghetti right before a race.  Is that what you usually do or do you have other meals you think are better?

    • Luc

      Many thanks.

      About 2 ounces of pasta is to be considered an exception that applies only to professionals who participate in major stage races.

      For normal sportsmen, and enthusiasts, the rules are the same but it is advisable not to overdo the doses, you risk overload and to pass a bad Sunday by bike

      My advice

      3 hours before:

      bread (better wholemeal), cereal flakes, rusks, biscuits, dry cakes, jam, honey, sugar, fruit (also dehydrated), rice, pasta, barley porridge, cous cous, seasoned with a little oil and parmesan

      drinks: milk (not for the intolerant), juices.

      2 hours before:

      rice (small portion), common bread, rusks, biscuits jam, honey.

      drinks: juice.

      1 hour before:

      cereal bars, common bread, corn or rice cakes, jam, honey

      as you asked:
      Complex carbohydrates are a great ally of our health, requiring more time to be made available, as they must first be transformed by the liver into monosaccharides and then burnt to give energy.
      This lowers the insulin tip and the risk of getting diabetes.
      In our diet the classic examples of polizaccharides are pasta, bread, grains and milk derivatives

      • Steve Tuggle

        Awesome additional information, Luc. You are obviously an expert in this area. I probably won’t be doing much cycling at my age and being surrounded by mountains, but I do a great deal of walking. I’m going to bookmark your page so I can follow along, and remember this excellent info about best types of foods before venturing out. Thanks.

        • Luc

          Thanks Steven,
          I appreciate your interest.
          I hope the things I will publish in this blog can be helpful to you,
          when the good season comes I will write more widely about hiking as it is also my passion.
          Now it is still cold and there is still snow in the mountains, because of the thaw now is dangerous to go to hiking so as long as it is possible I prefer to ski.
          Take care and enjoy your mountains.

  • Humayra


    It is very important and relevant post to those peoples who are much aware of their wellness. It’s true that peoples are more conscious of their health but most of them do not know what are the proper foodstuffs and what elements the foods are containing in it. Basically the cyclist who must need a proper foodstuffs during after cycling.

    Your important review will help them to understand about feeding they must needed. You described all the elements briefly and the foods that contain these necessary elements. It’s very helpful for all of us.

    Thanks for sharing.

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