Wednesday, May 25th, 2022
By Larrissa Curvelo, Dietitian Specialist in Clinical and Sport Nutrition and in association with Cycle Superstore
A balanced diet is the foundation for good cycling health and fitness. There is an array of energy foods and drinks on the market for cyclists to take before, during and after cycling.
An energy gel is essentially a concentrated form of sugars. They provide you with a concentrated hit of energy, which is generally simple to digest and absorb. Some gels available on the market contain extra ingredients like caffeine.
Top Tip: In general you need to take 20g of carbs every hour you are on the bike. Extra ingredients like caffeine helps delay fatigue.
Energy Chews are small bite sized chunks of sugar, a bit like a jelly baby. They are simple and easy to graze on during training and allow you to spread your energy intake out a little more throughout the ride. They can be more useful on harder rides where you might not have too much time to take on board some energy while you are riding along at pace.
An energy bar is bit like a cereal bar or flapjack and is made using simpler sugars so they can be easily absorbed and digested. They provide another concentrated hit of energy, but this time with a bit more substance and will fill you up with a little more than a gel on a long ride.
Top Tip: Will provide slow-release carbs from fibres and energy from fats like nuts.
An energy drink is one which contains simple carbohydrates within a drink. They provide you with not only those simple sugars you need during exercise to enhance performance, but water too, to enhance performance. They quite often provide you with electrolytes which will help the body retain the fluid you are taking in during exercise. You should take them during a cycle to maximise performance, delay fatigue and stave off dehydration.
Top Tip: Dehydration is one of the reasons for cramps, increase in injuries and reduced performance.
Recovery products are taken post ride and can come in the form of pre-made drinks, bars, or powder, which are packed full of nutrients, minerals and protein, ready to help your muscles repair. Protein is important in recovery products as it speeds up muscle growth and repair, meaning most recovery drinks are more akin to a milkshake then an energy drink. They should be taken after you have completed your exercise training.