5 essential facts about the nutritional needs for a long distance cyclist

In my last adventure I cycled in 48 hours from Rotterdam to Paris. With a total time of nearly 20 hours on my bike, I had to deal with my food in a certain way. The main rule for a long distance cyclist is to take small amounts of the right nutritions.

Cycling is an endurance sport and the body thereby consumes a lot of energy . Our body gets the energy it needs from fats and carbohydrates. Carbohydrate is the collective name for all sugars. If you moderate your efforts, the proportion fats will be greater than the proportion of carbohydrates. When you’re cycling more intensive you will burn more carbohydrates. With a maximum effort you will burn mostly carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are important for cyclists.

Here are 5 essential facts about the nutritional needs for a long distance cyclist.

1. Take the necessary proportion of carbohydrates

Take carbohydrates with little fat before you’re going on a bike trip. For example multigrain bread (starch), granulated sugar, syrup, honey, candy, chocolate, fruit juices, sweet spreads and other cereals. Gingerbread with apple syrup (jam) also contains a lot of carbohydrates.

2. Take it easy on the fats

This applies to any healthy lifestyle. Performing endurance sports with a high-fat diet also makes a higher chance to struggle with gastrointestinal problems.

3. Use adequate protein

Especially for a vegetarian long distance cyclist, it is important to take enough protein. It would be good to take some extra protein after the exersize. A cheese sandwich, a big glass of milk or a bowl quark.

4. Ensure good moisture absorption

As a cyclist you will sweat a lot and therefore it is important to drink a lot of water. When you add a pinch of salt to the water it helps to be withdrawn into the body.

Do it yourself sport drinks can be made by mixing water with a little bit syrup together with a pinch of salt (half a teaspoon per 750 ml).

5. Eat well distributed

Through varied and scattered food you get enough vitamins and minerals for a healthy body. In general, high-fiber foods are recommended. Especially with cycling you need to take small amounts throughout the day.

Please eat a good plate of food when you take a period of rest, this will give the body some time to proces. During my 48-hour bike ride from Rotterdam to Paris, I had to take an hour of rest because I ate a big plate of spaghetti. I became weird when cycling  immediately after this meal. Not recommended, even if you feel hungry distribute your food in small quantities.

Need more advice?
  • erwin

    Vooral even het eten laten zakken is erg belangrijk! Met een volle maag op de fiets is net als met een volle maag zwemmen… Goed stukje verder!

    • Henk van Dillen

      Thanks Erwin! En inderdaad! Dat had ik dus tijdens m’n tocht naar Parijs. Zo een trek hebben en dan heerlijk gaan eten, en proberen verder te fietsen door de heuvels. Nah geen goed idee… 😉