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Nutrition and Hydration Guide
Sports Nutrition Advice

Proper nutrition and hydration is as important to you riding experience as the bicycle beneath you. Carbon fiber frames and ultra-light wheelsets are no substitute for the engine that drive them....your body.

Sip, Slupp, Swig and Swallow

Water is crucial to the function of your body. Water-enriched blood carries oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and whisks waste away from them. Water is also expelled as perspiration; the process your body uses to cool itself. When you exercise, it is essential to replenish water and other nutrients at regular intervals to prevent these all-important processes from breaking down.

Sports Nutrition Tips and Tricks
1 Energy drinks vary in sweetness, and may give you an upset stomach if too strong. To avoid this, dilute with water until you find the right mix.

2 Keep your water bottles sanitary by washing them after each ride. Most bottles are safe to place in the top rack of a dishwasher. If you prefer to hand-wash, a bottle brush from the baby aisle of your local market is the perfect tool for this task.

3 Even with regular washing, bottles will take a walk on the wild side over time. Whne the inside of your bottle looks darker than the outside, its time to say goodbye.

As you ride, remind yourself to drink constantly, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Plain water is generally sufficient for rides of an hour or less, although there are energy drinks on the market that can provide quick energy for shorter rides. For rides of longer durations, plan to carry an energy drink. These products help to replenish essential carbohydrates, electrolytes and calories expended during exercise. There are many types available, including liquid, powder and tablet forms.

In general, sports nutrition beverages are developed for three purposes: pre-ride, during-ride, and post-ride. Pre-ride drinks provide a natural carbohydrate energy boost, which prepares your muscles for exercise. Energy drinks meant to be consumed during the course of your ride work to replace lost stores of essential minerals and electrolytes, while providing quickly absorbed carbohydrates. Post-ride drinks help to replenish protein and vital nutrients to help re-build muscles after extended activity and ward-off post-ride soreness and fatigue. For optimal effect, post-ride recovery drinks should be consumed within 20-40 minutes of the culmination of exercise.

For Less Than 1 Hour Rides
  • Drink at least 16oz. of plain water before you ride.
  • Carry and consume a 16-24oz. bottle of plain water or an energy drink.
  • Drink at least 16oz. of plain water or a recovery drink (per manufacturer recommendations) after your ride.
For 1-2 Hour Rides
  • Drink at least 16oz. of plain water or a pre-ride energy drink before you ride.
  • Carry and consume one 16-24oz. bottle of plain water, plus an extra 16-24oz. bottle of an energy drink. If your bike frame cannot accommodate two bottles, you may want to consider a hydration pack.
  • Drink at least 16oz. of plain water or a recovery drink (per manufacturer recommendations) after your ride.
For Rides Over 3 Hours
  • Drink at least 16oz. of plain water or a pre-ride energy drink before you ride.
  • Carry and consume one 16-24oz. bottle of plain water, plus one extra 16-24oz. bottle of an energy drink for each hour on the bike.
  • Plan your route so that you have options to stop for water along the way. Carry a few dollars with you, in case you need to purchase bottled water, energy drinks, etc.
  • Drink at least 16oz. of water after your ride, plus 16oz of a recovery drink (per manufacturer recommendations).

Munch the Miles Away

While cycling is an excellent way to strengthen your body, without proper nutrition the activity can actually make you weaker. Eating the right foods before, during and after you ride helps to replace the fuel your body demands.

The human body typically has enough energy stored as glycogen in muscles to support up to an hour of moderate exercise. If you are active for longer periods, it is important to consume carbohydrates, proteins and other nutrients that can be rapidly absorbed by hungry muscles. Energy bars and gels provide a good balance of healthy fuel to power your body, without weighing you down. They come in a variety of flavors and textures, and are formulated to be easily digestible.

For Less Than 1 Hour Rides

  • Eat a small, carbohydrate-based meal (cereal, fruit or toast) at least two hours before you ride. Allow food to fully-digest before you get on the bike.
  • You most likely will not need to eat anything during a ride of this duration.
For 1-2 Hour Rides
  • Follow the same pre-ride meal recommendations as previously mentioned.
  • You most likely will not need to eat anything during a ride of this duration.
  • After your ride, eat a small carbohydrate- and protein-based snack (cereal, lean meat, fruit, whole grains, nuts or vegetables) to help your body recover.
For Rides Over 3 Hours
  • Eat a solid meal at least two hours before you start a ride of this length. Avoid fatty foods and concentrate on healthy carbohydrates such as oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, toast or bagels.
  • Carry enough energy bars and/or gels to ensure that you have something to eat at least once an hour.
  • After a long ride, it is best to eat a healthy meal within 20-40 minutes. Protein rich meats and vegetables, coupled with whole grains will help to restore muscles, while keeping fat levels down.
  • Get some rest. Sleep is the body’s natural recovery mechanism, and should not be avoided.
Don't Forget Kid Bike Riders

Little muscles work just as hard as those of adults, sometimes more. A simple ride around the neighborhood can feel like a hundred mile tour to a small child. Make sure that children drink plenty of water while they ride, and stop as often as necessary to rest and recharge. Plain water is usually fine for most young children. Energy drinks may be used for longer rides, but dilute with at least 50% water and follow manufacturer recommendations.

Kid Bike Rider Drinking Water From Water Bottle

Note: This guide provides a basic overview of cycling-related hydration and nutrition, but should not be considered exhaustive. If cycling is a major part of your lifestyle, or if you are dealing with a particular health issue, we highly recommend that you seek out a qualified sports nutritionist. (Our lawyers made us say that, but it's actually good advice.)

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