For this second post of a two-part series on effective cycling nutrition, I reached out to Registered Dietician, founder of Rock Solid Nutrition, and local cyclist, Stephanie Nunes. Stephanie graciously took the time to offer some guidelines for ensuring you feel as good after riding—and are ready to go the next day—as you do while on the bike.
What do you really need to recover after a ride?
Carbohydrate rich food that will replenish glycogen stores, a small amount of protein to repair muscle tissue, and fluids to replace fluid loss. A good rule of thumb is to get something in within 30 minutes of your ride in a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrate:protein, and 24 oz of fluid for every pound lost. Another formula is .5g/carbohrdrate/pound of body weight and 10-20g proteins in the first hour. Sounds complicated but it is pretty easy! Peanut butter sandwich, piece of fruit, chocolate milk, OR bowl of cereal, walnuts on top, non-fat milk or alternative, and water. If you don’t have time to prepare something right away, quickly mix up a recovery drink or grab a chocolate milk within the first 30 minutes, then move on to eating and drinking for refueling.
Is your intake dependent on distance or time?
The guidelines are generally the same if you have been fueling/hydrating before and during appropriately. However, you may find that as intensity and distance progresses, your overall calorie needs will increase and you will need to adjust your daily training meal plans to match your expenditure.
What is the best way to avoid over or under eating?
Most importantly, do not go longer than 4 hours without eating. If you do, this can contribute to fatigue, poor performance, decreased cognition, and set you up to make poor food choices and over eat (usually the wrong foods). Plan by packing healthy snacks, lunches, plenty of fluids, and have appropriate fueling foods for before/during/and after your rides. Sometimes logging food intake can identify areas for improvement and help keep athletes on track. If you are not sure if you are fueling appropriately, you can set up a consult with a Registered Dietitian. You can also use some free apps that can help you assess where you are: www.myfitnesspal.com, www.fitday.com, www.choosemyplate.gov
Do you have a favorite meal for after a ride that encompasses everything you need in order to recover properly?
Why of course! If I have completed a long ride in the heat, I love to make a huge smoothie with yogurt, frozen fruit, and juice. If my ride was in the cold, I like to make a hot fried egg sandwich on whole grain bread and a piece of fruit. If I have to get to work right away, I like to make a peanut butter/banana sandwich on whole grain bread with 24 oz chocolate FLUID recovery drink. On the weekends, I sometimes get lucky and when I get back from a ride, my kids will make me whole grain banana/berry pancakes with peanut butter and a glass of orange juice.
Is there a difference between how women and men should fuel?
The guidelines are generally the same. However it is important to remember that women’s overall needs might be less due to less body weight. The individualized guidelines are based on body weight!
Ending Comments From Mrs. Nunes:
Eating before, during, and after cycling can definitely improve overall performance. However, don’t forget to focus on your everyday meals including fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats. Plus, remember to hydrate!
“Fuel the Machine and see the Results”