If you dared to venture outdoors for your bike rides over winter, you’ll have likely avoided snacks altogether. You may have taken food that is easy to eat whilst riding or in a short time period – like gels, avoiding long snack stops and ensuring you keep warm. But as the snowline retreats and the shorts and sun make an occasional appearance, your snack stops will likely get longer as do your rides. This means your refuelling method will need some consideration if you don’t already have your go-to cycling snacks.
As a sportsperson, you’ll know that nutrients are important to fuelling long stints of energy output to ensure you feel in good condition the whole way round and avoid the dreaded ‘bonk’.
Carbohydrates are the king of foods for energy as your body will convert carbs into glucose (blood sugar) that your body uses for energy in cells, tissues and organs.
When we think of carbs, we think of pasta, potatoes, bread etc. but these days, you wouldn’t be seen carrying around a loaf of bread for your ride. As these are ‘slow-release’ foods, they don’t digest quickly enough on your ride and would instead be eaten a few hours before your ride. You should opt for high-GI (glycaemic index) foods such as sugary foods and drinks that contain fructose and dextrose. Though you should be careful to find the right balance of sugar and fat as fuelling only on sugar can lead to a ‘crash’ or energy dip later on in your ride.
Any ride that lasts up to 1 or 2 hours shouldn’t need any mid-ride snacks per se. Unless, of course, you’re one for indulgence in which case make that cafe stop at the 1-hour mark and get yourself a slice of cake and a coffee!
Over 90 minutes, studies show that the optimum intake is 30 – 60 g of carbohydrates per hour. Since we’re all different, this can, of course, vary but you’ll soon figure out what works for you if you get it wrong on occasion.