We are often asked what’s best to eat before and after riding. So we’re going to share some research and expertise of a renowned sports nutritionist and exercise physiologist. In a separate post we’ll share our instructor’s go-to foods for successful fueling. #RideStrongFeelGood
What should I eat before and after workouts?
Nutrition expert and exercise physiologist Dr. Chris Mohr lays it out. He says, first, don’t skip the carbs. Let’s say that again, don’t skip the carbs! Carbohydrates are fuel for your muscles. The harder your muscles are working, the more carbs you need to keep them going and going. A question is when to eat them.
Pre Workout Nutrition
Generally it’s best to eat 1-3 hours pre workout, depending on how your body tolerates food before exercise. Here are some examples, notice that each include both carbohydrate and protein.
• Peanut butter and banana or PBJ sandwich (light on the PB)
• Greek yogurt with berries
• Oatmeal with lowfat milk and fruit
• Apple and peanut or almond butter
• Handful of nuts and raisins (2 parts raisins, 1 part nuts)
Carbs are the fuel. Protein is what rebuilds and repairs your broken down muscles.
Post Workout Nutrition
Dr. Mohr provides a great analogy. Imagine your muscles like a sponge. When well fueled, they’re like a wet sponge. However, during training you’re using the stored energy in your muscles, comparable to wringing out a wet sponge. Just like a dry sponge can absorb a ton of water… your muscles are like that dry sponge post workout and can better absorb more nutrients. It’s time to REFUEL. And do it quick, like 20 minutes post workout.
As soon as you can post workout, you want to get carbs and protein into your body. You should refuel quickly even if you don’t feel immediately hungry. This will give your muscles the ability to replenish the glycogen they just lost during exercise and help your tired muscles rebuild and repair. Generally after riding a class, the carb:protein ratio you should be targeting is about 3:1.
Some examples include:
• Low fat chocolate milk (a Cycle Town favorite! Stay tuned, we’re going to start offering it!)
• Greek yogurt
• Turkey on a whole grain wrap with veggies
The key with these foods is that they offer mainly carbs and some protein. In the case of chocolate milk, it also helps to hydrate.
Dr. Mohr’s take home points:
1. Your body needs carbs to fuel your working muscles.
2. Protein is there to help build and repair.
3. Timing is critical so plan ahead! Get a combination of the two in your body 1-3 hours pre workout and within 20 minutes post workout.
If you fuel right, you’ll feel better and perform better on the bike and after class. Your body will be able to work harder and longer, building lean muscle and increasing your calorie burn during your ride.
Our Cycle Town instructor team takes fueling very seriously because we like to rock out and work hard on the bike! We have learned (sometimes the hard way!) the importance of proper fueling and how dramatically it affects how we feel and perform. There’s a carb for everyone! In a follow-up post we will share each instructor’s favorite carb and protein combinations.
Many thanks to Dr. Chris Mohr and his expertise on Eating Before and After Your Workout.