A cyclist’s nutrition plan can best be described in six periods: (1) every day basic diet (2) day before the ride (3) ride-day breakfast (4) pre-ride snack (5) during the ride and (6) after the ride
(1) Every Day Basic Diet
Your basic diet should consist of 60% carbohydrates, 25% fats and 15% protein. Here are examples of good foods that provide healthy fuel for your body in the months leading up to the ride.
· Whole grain bread
· Brown Rice
· Low-fat dairy
· Veggies (corn, peas, carrots, onion, beets, tomatoes, kale, mushrooms, peppers, eggplant, cabbage, broccoli)
· Lean meats
· Low-fat dairy
· Olive oil
· Nut Butter
(2) Day Before Your Ride
You will use carbs stored from 2-3 days before your ride, so make sure they’re there!
Increase the amount of carbohydrates to 70% by having carbohydrate rich foods, especially the night before. Do not eat more; just eat foods with higher carb content. Use some extra salt. Increase liquid intake to the equivalent of eight 8-oz glasses of water a day. Be mindful that liquid from fruit and other foods count as part of the recommended hydration.
(3) Pre-Ride Breakfast
This is a critical meal. It should be high in complex carbs and have some protein. Some suggested foods for breakfast are waffles, pancakes, bagel, oatmeal with raisins and low-fat milk, cereal such as shredded wheat (sugar-free, whole-grain) with low-fat milk and strawberries/raisins/dried cranberries, a piece of fresh fruit (bananas are tops because of potassium content), two or three slices of bacon and a glass of low-fat milk. Drink a glass of 100% juice or water. Caffeine is a diuretic (causes water loss), but a cup of regular coffee won't hurt, and the caffeine might even give you a little jump start on your ride.
(4) Pre-ride Snack
Generally, the lapsed time between breakfast and the start of a century or long training ride is two to three hours--two to three hours in which you have burned off some of your stored glycogen. Thus, topping off just before you ride with a snack is desirable. It needs to be easily (i. e., quickly) digestible, high in complex carbs and with some protein (ideal ratio is four grams carb to one gram protein). Power Bars, Cliff Bars, Slim Fast bars, peanut butter sandwich, bread with apple butter or sugar-free jam, can of Slim Fast, Wheat Thins or Triscuits with peanut butter or plain, pear, apple, orange, banana, grapes, raisins, baked potato, boiled (but cold) new potato with salt, are some possibilities. Drink at least six ounces of some liquid.
(5) During Your Ride
You should consciously eat and drink while you are riding. Make sure you that you squirrel away snacks in your pockets, CamelBack, and bike bags. Don’t wait for the first rest stop to start eating. A rule of thumb is to drink every 15 minutes to consume about 24 ounces of fluid an hour, even if the temperature is low. You can also eat every 15 minutes or eat at the beginning of each hour so that you are always ahead of your fuel needs. The combination of your fluids and what you eat should yield about 260-300 calories per hour (depending on your size). What you consume should also contain electrolytes--primarily salt and potassium. Most sports drinks, gels and energy bars provide it.
(6) After A Training Ride
Within 20 minutes--30 at the most-- after riding, replace used-up carbs and fluid. Doing so will greatly facilitate muscle cell recovery and strengthening. Have something with a little protein (4:1 carb to protein ratio is ideal). Timing is critical for optimal muscle-cell recovery. Some suggestions: Chocolate milk (hooray, but marginally OK); can of Slim Fast; Cliff Bar; Power Bar; yogurt; fruit; bagel with cream cheese; ham or turkey (one slice) and cheese on bagel or whole grain bread; peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
In about two hours, eat a regular balanced meal with 60-25-15 ratio of carbs, fat protein.
Much of your muscle-cell recovery and strengthening takes place while you are sleeping on the night after a long ride. That takes protein. You can provide it by mixing whey protein powder with a glass of low-fat or skim milk and drinking it a couple hours before going to bed.