Guest blogger Kelly Smallcomb, registered dietitian and Cycle Town enthusiast, shares nutrition tips with us for maximizing ride performance. Kelly has been a godsend to Cycle Town, advising our instructors on the best foods to eat and the timing of meals to ensure we have high performance on the bike and maintain peak fitness– especially when we do those double workouts! We asked Kelly to share her expertise with you riders. In our next blog post we will share each instructor’s favorite pre- and post-ride meals!
Did you know that what you eat and drink before, during and after your ride will make a big difference in your performance in the saddle? Fuel your body right and you will ride harder and get stronger, burn more fat and calories and become leaner, and feel more energized after your ride.
Let me break it down for you…
Before your Ride
While many of you may be riding while fueled only by coffee (especially those 5:30 AM roosters), research tells us this isn’t the best approach. It’s true that athletes can burn more fat when they exercise on an empty stomach, however, burning fat doesn’t mean you will become leaner and it will likely negatively affect your performance on the bike.
For a 50 min Ride, a pre exercise small meal or snack should consist primarily carbohydrates for a quicker release of energy. Ideally, it should be consumed about 1-2 hours before your ride.
Example – For the 8:30am class, fuel at 6:30/7:00am with 6 oz yogurt + banana, 1 cup cooked oatmeal, or a granola bar + latte.
Taking the 5:30am class and no time to eat? Try eating your “breakfast” before bed (ie. 1 cup cold cereal with milk, slice of toast with peanut butter, or a cup of oatmeal). Eating something small even 5 to 15 minutes before your ride will help.
What you drink before you ride is just as important. Most of us will need about 10- 15 ounces of fluid over the 4 hours leading up to our ride to stay hydrated. Does coffee count? Yes, and no. Up to 8 oz of caffeinated beverage can count, but anything beyond should be replaced with water. Caffeine is a well known performance enhancer, so no need to nix it before your ride if it’s part of your normal routine.
During your ride:
Drink water when you’re thirsty and throughout your ride, especially if you didn’t achieve your 10 to 15 ounces before your ride. The goal of drinking during class is to help you cool off and prevent dehydration later in the day. Cycle Town is a cool, dry studio though riders are known to sweat a ton, so unless directed by your physician, a big water bottle of plain water is what you need.
After your ride:
If you’re a recreational exerciser who works out 2-4 times per week, you will have plenty of time to replenish your body through your normal diet between workouts. Have a quick snack within an hour of your ride so you don’t let yourself get famished before your next regular meal. For example, a piece of fruit or a granola bar.  And keep drinking water!  A minimum of 40 ounces total is recommended before, during and after class.
If you are a daily rider, a competitive athlete or someone who works out hard with barely 24 hours between workouts, listen up! Post ride nutrition is very important for you and will make a big impact on how you perform in your next workout. Most importantly, timing is everything. If you have errands after class, pack a snack because you have 30-45 minute window after your ride/workout to replenish. You should consume a snack consisting of carbohydrate and protein—ideally at a 2/3 carb and 1/3 protein ratio. Cycle Town favorites include 8 to 10 oz chocolate milk, 6 to 8 oz Greek yogurt + banana, egg on English muffin, 2-3 slices of turkey rolled up in a tortilla, omelet with sweet potato, and quiche. A portable post-workout snack option is a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread or try a Superfood energy bar from Lido.
Remember every body is different and so are its needs – find what works for you and makes you feel and ride your best.
-Kelly Smallcomb, Registered Dietitian