You’ve picked out your next MYX+Openfit cycling class and grabbed your favorite cycling shoes. Now you’re trying to figure out what to eat before a bike ride. Should you eat a full meal, or just a snack? Which foods will help you power through your workout?
Here’s what experts suggest before your next cycling class.
What to Eat Before a Bike Ride
“Several factors play a role in what to eat before a cycling class, including digestibility, your ability to tolerate certain foods before intense physical activity, convenience, and availability of food before your workout,” says Mary Wirtz, MS, RDN, CSSD, nutritional consultant at Mom Loves Best.
It may take some experimenting to find your perfect pre-ride snack. But Wirtz recommends choosing carb-heavy foods with minimal fat and a moderate amount of protein. These will be easier to digest and provide your body with energy for your ride.
Some of Wirtz’s go-to pre-workout snacks include:
- Banana with a small serving of peanut butter
- Reduced-fat, low-sugar Greek yogurt with fresh fruit
- Cereal with reduced-fat (2%) milk or non-dairy milk alternative
- Whole wheat bagel with a slice of turkey and cheese
- Oatmeal with fresh berries
- Granola bar and a clementine
How Long Before a Cycling Class Should I Eat?
To keep your energy up while exercising — and to help avoid intestinal distress — the timing of your meals is just as important as what’s in them.
Again, finding the sweet spot for pre-workout snack timing will likely require some trial and error. But the ideal window is at least an hour before you hop on your bike, according to Wirtz.
“One hour prior to a workout is just fine for some individuals,” Wirtz says. “However, other individuals may need closer to two hours before an intense cycling class.”
What if you’ve got class in less than an hour and your stomach is grumbling? Garret Seacat, CSCS, head coach at Absolute Endurance, recommends sticking with a small serving of easy-to-digest carbs — around half of what you’d normally eat. “Think a packet of energy gel or a banana,” he says.
What to Eat After a Bike Ride
“Ideally, you want to consume a meal or snack within 30 minutes of intense physical activity,” Wirtz says. “This should consist of carbohydrates and protein to help your muscles repair and recover while replenishing your glycogen stores.”
Some ideas for post-workout fueling include:
- Low-fat chocolate milk and a banana
- LADDER Whey or Plant Protein shake and a banana
- Whole wheat wrap with scrambled eggs and a side of fruit
- Chicken, grilled vegetables, and quinoa
- Whole wheat bagel with hummus
Tips for Staying Hydrated While Cycling
Hydration is just as important to your performance and overall health as fuel. Here are a few tips for staying hydrated before, during, and after a cycling class.
- Carry an insulated bottle with you and sip it throughout the day. “I find that clients are more apt to consume fluids regularly if the fluids are consistently cold,” Wirtz says.
- Fuel longer for more intense workouts with hydration supplements. LADDER Hydration contains electrolytes to help fight muscle cramps and fast-burning carbs to help improve endurance. Combining them with water helps you rehydrate more efficiently than with water alone.
- Wirtz recommends eating fruits and vegetables with high water content — like cucumbers, lettuce, watermelon, tomatoes, and peppers — to “chew your fluids” and help boost your hydration status.
- Forgetting to drink while you’re cycling? “Set a timer,” Seacat says. “Every 15 minutes, take a large drink. At the end of an hour-long class, your should be finishing your bottle!”