Nutrition Tips for Long Distance Cyclists


Vicki Donahue specializes in nutrition and dietetics.

She said if you are training for one of the longer distance Hotter’N Hell rides, you should start paying close attention to your diet now.

“Four weeks is when you really want to pay attention to alcohol intake,” Donahue said. “If you take in any sodas and watching and make sure you’re eliminating high fat foods. Anything fried. Anything processed.”

But what about the days right before the ride?

“You actually want to prepare those couple of days before by eating your high carb meals and you don’t need to go significant over with carbs either but you need to be increasing your fluid intake. Increasing your sodium and potassium intake and increasing your carb intake those two our three days before,” she said.

The day before, have normal meals and continue to focus on your hydration.

However, when you wake up on ride day, you need to be very concious about how you will power through the ride. Three to four hours prior – eat a significant meal with a balance of carbs, fat and protein – like a bagel with peanut butter and banana. 

“As you’re sitting around waiting for the race, it’s a good idea to have just a simple granola bar something anywhere from 150 to 250 calories about an hour and a half before the race,” Donahue said.

Along with plenty of water – during the race – Donahue said to take in around 500 to 1,000 miligrams of sodium through liquids and solids.

“I take a bottle of water and I take a bottle of some sort of sodium infused water, so whether it be nuun tablets are great and Gatorade is also great. Powerade. And in this case — with these longer rides…. the 100 mile rides — I strongly suggest fully loaded Gatorade. Don’t worry about the G2 or diet anything,” she said.

And 60 minutes into the ride, you need to think of fuel through things like energy gels, PB&J, Power and Clif Bars. Then, refuel and eat every 45 minutes after that.

Nutrition remains important even after you cross the finish line.

“The key is thirty minutes after you finish that ride, you need to get nutrition into your body. Something normal you haven’t eaten along the ride. So, chocolate milk is my favorite because it goes down easy. It’s a liquid,” Donahue said.

The recovery meal should be high in carbs, protein and fats as well.

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