Eating to Bike, Biking to Eat

Fresh Produce

Bicycling is such a great exercise that people who take it up (to save money by bike commuting to work, say, or to get back into shape after years of neglecting their bodies) are surprised and pleased how it strengthens their legs, improves their wind, and helps them lose those spare pounds. These physical improvements are gained because cycling works the biggest muscle groups in your body—your legs—and this eats up a lot of energy. The typical recreational bicyclist spends between 300 and 600 calories an hour, depending on physical intensity. But even if you’re hoping to lose weight while getting strong, your body needs fuel. You can ride for an hour or so without tanking up on calories, but after that your body will begin to run out of energy, sometimes astonishingly fast. The upshot? You’ve got to take in calories when you ride. If you eat small quantities of high energy foods frequently as you ride, you can avoid what experienced cyclists know as “the bonk.” Believe me, you don’t want to experience it.

Did I mention fluid replacement? No? Then let’s talk about that, too, because it’s even more important than solid food. When you bike you sweat, you lose vapor through your mouth, and you pass some out the other end (if you’re drinking enough!). Drinking is particularly important in hot, humid weather.

Of course, all cyclists have to get off their bikes sometime, even those competing in long-distance events like the Race Across America and randonneuring events. Eating and drinking right extends to those off-the-saddle times, too. A good meal and plenty of the proper foods not only fuel your body but lead to a sense of well-being.

The following articles will help guide you toward eating and drinking to build energy, help beat the bonk, and keep you healthy and hydrated. Check back often for more on eating to bike. And by all means, if you have suggestions or contributions to make, just let us know.

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Have a Drink

Have a Snack

Have a Meal