Recovery Nutrition for Cycling

 So many bike racers finish a hard training workout and gorge themselves.  Sure you’re hungry from riding, but just dumping food into your body isn’t the best idea.  Especially if you are not at race weight.

 I read an article in Bicycling magazine years ago about a guy who lost a ton of weight from riding.  The interesting thing was that he rode a ton before he lost weight; in fact he rode the same amount after he lost weight and as he lost weight.   What was the difference?  He quit eating 4 lbs of burritos after every ride.  

There is a ton of information on what you need directly after a ride – carbohydrates first and foremost.  (0.8-1.2 grams per kilogram)  This is the best way to quickly get some recovery going and replacing your glycogen stores. 

The next step is to get some protein into the belly.  The added protein acts to 1) repair damage to muscle fibers, 2) promote training-induced adaptations in muscle fibers, and 3) replenish depleted stores of energy.  However you don’t need a ton.  This isn’t trying to completely rebuild your system, but address the immediate need.

The third element is hydration.  I can’t overemphasize this one.  Most every bike racer I know is dehydrated, constantly.  It is hard to hydrate after a ride and keep hydrating for days. 

This is all about what you need immediately.  What is often missed is the macro plan for recovery.  A good plan is day by day based.  Eating a ton the day of a big ride is not as important as eating a ton the day after.  Eating a bit more on recovery days and staying reasonable the day of the ride is a good idea.  This allows your body to quickly digest and get nutrients to your body immediately on the day of and to work on the longer term building for the recovery days. 

The biggest mistake I see is too many cyclists over-calculate their caloric burn and gorge day of their big ride.  This usually results in poor recovery from overloading the system and weight gain from too many calories, often poor food choices as well.

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