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An award-winning nutritionist, health writer and former bodybuilding champion, Anita specialises in offering nutritional advise to athletes of all levels. She aims to motivate and inspire people to lead a healthier life through my books,...

Sports nutritionist Anita Bean has devised an eating plan for before and after cycling to help sustain your workout

 
We’re not saying it’s necessary to weigh out every meal and snack from here on in, but once you’ve seen the specific quantities, you’ll get to know what a healthy portion looks like.

The activity

 

2-3hr cycling at a medium pace (12–14mph/19–22km/h)

Your weight = 60kg | Calories burned in 3hr = 1,525
Your weight = 80kg | Calories burned in 3hr = 1,920

3hr before your ride

Stoke your engine with a breakfast combo of slow-release carbs and a moderate amount of protein:
Your weight = 60kg | Ideal intake = 45g carbs & 20g protein
2 poached eggs + 2 slices wholemeal toast + 2tsp low-fat spread + 1 orange

Your weight = 80kg | Ideal intake = 55g carbs & 25g protein
2 poached eggs + 3 slices wholemeal toast + 3tsp low-fat spread + 1 orange

what to eat before cycling

30min before your ride

Eating a high-carbohydrate snack before you set off will raise your blood sugar level and boost energy:
Your weight = 60kg | Ideal intake = 30g carbs & 0g protein
1 banana + 50g grapes
OR
½ energy bar such as Clif Chocolate Chip Bar

Your weight = 80kg | Ideal intake = 40g carbs & 0g protein
1 banana + 100g grapes
OR
1 energy bar such as Clif Chocolate Chip Bar

During your ride

Snack on 30–60g carbs (such as 12 dried apricots or 50g raisins) per hr to help endurance. Hydrate with 400–800ml water or squash (diluted 1 to 6) per hr or according to thirst.

potassium

Within 1hr of completing your ride

Eat a lunch that includes carbohydrates to replace fuel stores and protein to promote muscle repair:
Your weight = 60kg | Ideal intake = 60g carbs & 20g protein
2 slices wholemeal bread + 2tsp low-fat spread + 3 slices roast turkey + mixed salad leaves + 1 banana

Your weight = 80kg | Ideal intake = 80g carbs & 25g protein
3 slices wholemeal bread + 2tsp low-fat spread + 3 slices roast turkey + mixed salad leaves + 1 banana

Do I need special drinks?

If you’re exercising for less than 1 hr, drink only water. There’s no need for branded ‘sports’ drinks, which may contain huge quantities of sugar.

If you’re exercising at a moderate-high intensity for longer than this (around 2–3 hr), you may want to drink diluted squash (1 part cordial to 6 parts water) to fuel your muscles with carbohydrates, as well as replace fluids.

If you’re exercising in hot or humid conditions, or for longer than 2 hr, a sports drink may be a good idea. These drinks contain sodium, which will help your body to retain water while exercising and replace salt lost through sweat, as well as carbohydrates for an energy boost.

Going for the burn?

Anita’s book, Food for Fitness 4th Edition (Bloomsbury Sport, £16.99), is a handy guide for anyone who’s taking their exercise plan to a new level. As well as dispelling popular myths, she shares the latest nutrition research for performance, giving you the tools to reach your peak. Plus find 65 delicious recipes, as well as sport-specific menu plans.