Feeding adventures in 2016

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Introducing Charlotte, a qualified Nutritional Therapist and co-founder of Muddy Cwtch, in 2016 she’ll be penning a regular post on feeding and nutrition on the bike. (including many tasty recipes).

2016. What’s it going to bring? A few unknowns, occasional hurdles, epic adventures? Who knows. But if you’re resolute it’s going to involve getting back on your bike going further on your bike, or just tuning your bike ready for drier weather then we’re behind you. Whatever the challenge for this year I’ve been brought on board to look after the food side of things, leaving you free to focus on those resolutions.

Unless you’re a pro or approaching a serious fitness challenge this year then keeping things simple and as close to the real thing is a good place to start when preparing meals for a ride. The type and quantity of food you need will differ depending if you’re planning a 30 minute speedy commute to work, a two hour intense mountain bike ride or a leisurely jaunt. As a rider of all of the above I’ve gone with my happy medium; a long weekend ride taking in the sights, pit stops, speedier at times, not too many sharp inclines but enough to get the heartbeat racing and the thighs suitably aching.

Food is the fuel for a long bike ride. Preparing a diet rich in good quality carbohydrates, antioxidants and protein supported by restorative vitamins and minerals is key. In my first post this year I’m going to provide an overview of what types of meals to consider eating pre, during and post ride. In further posts I’ll go in to more depth on how you can use nutrition to further support your cycling experiences this year.


On your marks:
Early starter (2 hrs before cycling) and a slow release carbohydrate and protein breakfast should be on the menu such as:

  • Super porridge; combine jumbo oats with quick porridge oats, use milk or preferred dairy alternative, add a sprinkle of seeds, few dates (or other dried fruit) and a teaspoon of coconut oil swirled in
  • Scrambled eggs and salmon on wholegrain toast
  • Add a vegetable smoothie to your breakfast; play around with antioxidant rich  eg. like broccoli, beetroot and celery to find your favourite taste combo

If you’re more of a last minute grab & eat (30 mins before cycling) then you’re looking for faster releasing and easily digested carbohydrates:

  • Simple fruit smoothie; banana, berries & water
  • Homemade breakfast bar; oats, dried fruit, honey
  • Wholegrain toast topped with honey and/or a banana


Half way mark:
Lunch is up and we’re looking for a protein and carbohydrate rich to sustain us over the next few hours riding:

  • Small Thermos of root vegetable stew with couscous or sweet potato mash
  • Hearty soup, combine protein rich lentils, beans or chickpeas with veg for a filling soup
  • Veggie burrito wrap – black bean, brown rice, guacamole and salsa topped with natural yogurt and sprinkle of cheese wrapped up in a tortilla and secured in foil for transport
  • Lentil, tuna, tomato, onion and quinoa salad with a side of whole grain bread or oatcakes
  • Power sandwich; rye, spelt, wholemeal or multi-seeded bread with a protein rich filling; egg, salmon, chicken, hummus, topped with salad, watercress or alfalfa sprouts

Mind over matter:
On long bike rides aim for 30-60g per hour of carbohydrates (lunch included). Good quality and quickly utilised simple carbohydrates are key for snacking and additional protein will aid the recovery process:

  • A banana and handful of nuts
  • Homemade protein ball or shop bought e.g. Bounce ball
  • Homemade flapjack with dried fruit, honey and seeds
  • High quality dark chocolate – 70% + cocoa content (6 squares)

cup of tea

Post ride – refuel and rehydrate:
Within half hour of finishing your ride aim to eat 10-20g of protein and 20-50g of carbohydrate to replenish glucose levels, support muscle and tissue recovery, rehydrate and stabilise blood sugars:

  • Slice of toast (wholegrain, sough dough, rye) and nut butter
  • Smoothie combining fruit and protein e.g. blueberries and almond butter
  • Protein and oat ball
  • Restore water & electrolytes (potassium, sodium, magnesium) – coconut water is a tasty and natural way option

1-2 hours later and its dinner time, again you’re looking for a carbohydrate and protein rich meal to refuel with additional anti- inflammatory and immune boosting foods to reduce the effects of oxidative stress on the body. Following are good examples (that can be found at most pubs…):

  • Grilled fish, sweet potato wedges and mushy peas or leafy magnesium rich greens
  • Homemade chicken curry with brown rice
  • One pot Moroccan stew with chickpeas and couscous

This meal plan incorporates foods that most of us probably have at home, the only consideration is the need to take a bit of time to plan and prep the meals. It’s worth it though and can make such a difference between feeling tired and rubbish half way through a ride and relying on artificial boosters to instead remaining energised throughout and with a shorter recovery time – ready for the next ride!

Charlotte is a qualified Nutritional Therapist and co-founder of Muddy Cwtch; providing accessible Mountain Bike Weekenders to the South Shropshire hills with added nutritional support.

All images from Muddy Cwtch

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