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Eat to Ride: How to Fuel Your Body to Go the Distance

Long cycling rides bring a level of accomplishment and pride for those who have been training to up their game. But these rides also bring a level of soreness and exhaustion not typically experienced with short rides. If you plan on cycling for more than two consecutive hours, you need to plan how to fuel and refuel your body. Here’s how to tweak your diet before, during, and after your long-distance cycling journey to help boost your energy and keep you tuned in mentally and physically.

  • Eat complex carbohydrates about two hours before you start cycling. These include whole grain bread, sweet potatoes, pasta, rice, and oatmeal. Complex carbs are digested slower than simple carbs and give us more energy. But be sure to avoid added sugars; they may give you a small burst of energy, but they don’t help your long-term endurance.
  • For this distance, opt for real foods instead of gels and sugars. Find foods with a good combination of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. There are a variety of healthy energy bars made with whole grains, dried fruit, and nuts that are easy to carry on rides. Avoid foods high in sugar for this duration – remember, they may give a spike of energy, but the eventual crash can make the latter part of the ride difficult.
  • Refuel for recovery with a medium sized meal rich in protein, carbs, and fats within 60 minutes after riding. Peanut butter sandwiches are quick and easy if a full meal isn’t possible. Longer rides require more calories consumption – add a protein shake or another recovery drink to a post-ride meal.

If you are planning a long-distance ride for National Bike Month in May — or anytime in the future — here are some food ideas before you get on the road:

The Breakfast Burrito

  • whole wheat or corn tortilla
  • egg(s)
  • diced sweet potatoes
  • spinach
  • salsa
  • avocado slices
  • fruit on the side to help with hydration

Don’t have time for a complete meal in the morning? Eat a good meal with complex carbs the night before your ride. But make sure to get in a snack before you hop on your cycle.

Quick Snack Ideas

  • oatmeal
  • peanut butter
  • fresh or dried fruit

Click here to learn more about nutrition and cycling through WWP’s Physical Health and Wellness and Soldier Ride programs.

Contact: Vesta M. Anderson – Public Relations,, 904.570.0771

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Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers – helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.

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