Nutrition buyer's guide
One of the great things about riding your bike is that you burn calories. However, if you don’t keep yourself fuelled, you’ll soon find yourself ‘bonking’, where you completely run out of energy and struggle to carry on. Cycling nutrition is designed to be easy to eat or drink as you’re riding along, and to give you just what your body needs to keep going.
There are loads of different ways to keep yourself fuelled for your ride. After all, not everyone has the same tastes – and nobody wants to eat the same thing every day.
Staying hydrated while you’re riding is really important. As well as topping up your fluids, there are different kinds of energy drinks available to help you stay on top of your fuelling.
- Hydration tablets
Hydration tablets are solid tablets that will fizz and dissolve when you drop them into a bottle of water. They make a drink that is isotonic, which means it won’t make you feel as bloated as drinking loads of plain water, and add a flavour. They can also contain various salts and electrolytes to replace those lost by sweating.
- Energy drinks
Cycling energy drinks generally contain simple carbohydrates to help fuel you on longer rides. These will help keep you fuelled on a ride as well as the drink keeping you hydrated. They normally come as a powder that can be mixed with water to give you a flavoured drink.
- Isotonic drinks
Isotonic energy drinks are also available. These are similar to normal energy drinks, but are made to have the same concentration of water as your body. Just like drinks made with hydration tablets, these help keep you from feeling too bloated. They sometimes contain a little less in the way of energy, but the trade-off is normally very small.
An energy gel is a great way to get a quick boost of energy while you’re out on a ride. They’re generally single-serving packets of thick, sugary liquid that are easy to eat as you’re riding along. They’re normally made mostly of simple carbohydrates, to replace those lost through exercise.
Energy bars are great for those looking for more of a ‘real food’ feeling. They’re also really useful if you’re planning on doing a longer ride. They tend to contain more complex carbohydrates, which are released more slowly in the body, as well as some fat and protein. Because the energy they provide is longer lasting, they’re useful to eat early on in long rides, too.
Once your ride ends, you should think about recovery. Recovery nutrition normally comes as a powder, which you can make into a drink, or as bars. These are a great source of protein, to help rebuild and repair your muscles, and carbohydrates, to replace what you’ve been burning. Of course, recovery drinks also help you to rehydrate.
It’s recommended to take on some form of recovery nutrition within 30 minutes of finishing your ride, and these drinks and bars are an easy way to quickly get what you need without having to wait to cook. They’re also ideal for leaving at work if you use your commutes as training.