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February 27, 2022

What Should You Eat Before a Bike Ride?

Posted In: Nutrition

Why do we think it is important to eat before a bike ride?

Because pedals up usually mean an early start, it is so important to make time for your pre-ride fuel.

So many women find that they are just not hungry in the morning. They grab a coffee and dash out to meet the group.

Now I am known to love my sleep and refuse to sacrifice even a minute to make breakfast before an early ride. Therefore, I tend to rely on grab-and-go bars to boost those muscle glycogen stores.

These bars are my ride or die, BUT you may have your own favorites. Reach out and let us know your preferred early morning fuel.

Most people hear the words “carbs” and think they are the evil macronutrient that causes weight gain and gets in the way of weight loss. However, this is not the case. “Carbs” or carbohydrates are one of the most needed nutrients as they provide energy and can help reach peak performance.

Carbs are essential for optimal exercise performance. Consuming carbs help muscles perform at their best by improving brain activity through increasing motor skills and decreasing the feeling of fatigue, thus, increasing recovery and performance [1, 2]. Consuming an adequate amount of carbs decreases muscle soreness by replenishing muscle glycogen [1, 2].

What type of carbohydrate is best before a bike ride?

The type of carbohydrate you eat is extremely important because it influences exercise performance and recovery factors [1].

For low to moderate-intensity cyclists exercising for durations of 1 to 2 hours), consuming small carbohydrate snacks before exercise increases your endurance by providing energy throughout the exercise [1].

A mixture of simple and complex carbs appears to offer teh best benefit [1, 3]. Some examples of mixed types of carbs include bananas, apples, berries, or low-fiber granola bars.

6 Dietitian Approved Grab and Go Cycling Fuel

Sometimes morning fuel needs to be quick and straightforward. A 7 am ride time does not allow for tons of time to actually make a bagel or oats. This is when the convenience of bars comes in. The ones listed below are some of my favorites. They check my pre-fuel boxes — adequate carbs plus great taste.

  • Kodiak Cakes Chewy Bar (all flavors)- these bars are light and airy so they do not feel heavy going down. At 20 grams of carbs, these chewy bars will keep you pedaling for that first hour comfortably.
  • CLIF Kid ZBar – Who doesn’t want to be a kid again? 😉 We are a fan of kid-sized bars because they usually are small enough to fit in a jersey, yet usually back enough of a carb punch to fuel your muscles. ZBars pack 20 grams of carbohydrates into a delicious and easy-to-eat bar.
  • Trader Joe’s ABC Almond Butter Cocoa Bars – Chocolate and almond butter are the perfect combo in this delicious, melt-in-your-mouth bar. These bars contain a whopping 19 grams of carbohydrates with only 4 grams of added sugar. A+ in my book!
  • Target Good & Gather Date & Nut Mini Bars – If too much-added sugar is a no-no for you, these bars will fit the bill. These small, portable bars mimic cookie dough with the main ingredients being dates and cashews. They contain 12 grams of carbohydrates and only 2 grams of added sugar in 100 calories. These are my go-to for shorter rides. If you plan on being out for 90+ minutes grab the full-size version, you will not be disappointed!
  • Trader Joe’s Coconut Chocolate Date Bars – Looking for a 0g added sugar solution? This bar is for you! With only 5 ingredients, this bar contains a healthy 23 grams of carbs which are sure to keep you pedaling on those longer rides. Coconut, not your thing? Try the These Peanuts Go on a Date bars with 24 grams of carbohydrates and 0 grams of sugar.
  • Bobo’s Oat Bites – These treats are perfect for the muffin lovers out there. While a little higher in sugar than the previous options, the taste and texture make them a winner. That and the whopping 24 grams of total carbohydrates.

How to Pre Fuel

Once you have your pre-ride favorites, make sure to eat one at least 60 minutes before pedals up. Drink at least 16 fluid ounces of water with your pre-ride snack and you should be good for at least the first hour of your ride.

Always be prepared! Pack additional snacks, even if you don’t plan to be out longer than an hour.

Knowing how and what to eat will make early morning nutrition a breeze.

To learn more about nutrition and fuel make sure to join our course waitlist to be one of the first to know when it goes live. You can also join our private Facebook group to find additional information and the support you need.