Like any sport, nutrition plays an important role in cycling. Whether you’re a pro, a casual racer, or just a weekend joy rider, what you eat plays a vital role in your performance. Proper nutrition enables a cyclist to avoid cramping, dehydration, energy loss, and a bad attitude.
“Carbo-O-Loading” is an extremely common phrase used in the biking world. Glycogen is a polysaccharide of glucose that works as energy storage in humans. In the body, a very limit space is allotted to the storage of glycogen, around 1% or 2%. This small amount can produce upwards of 85% of the body’s total energy production, making it a crucial commodity to a human, especially an athlete. Since the storage space is so small, a person exercising almost around the clock would have a very hard time replenishing their glycogen level. Therefor, “Carb-O-Loading” is a cyclist’s best friend.
This process should begin two days before a scheduled race. Each day, a rider should consume around 10 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of their body weight (for example, a 150 pound rider would need to eat the amount of carbohydrates found in 26 bananas a day.) When your body runs out of glycogen, that’s when a rider hits a wall, the legs can’t pedal anymore.
On top of carbs, a rider needs lean protein to help the body rebuild muscles. Without the proper intake of protein, an athlete’s body takes from the muscle mass. Cyclists are recommended to consume about 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body mass (for example, a 150 pound rider should eat a little more than 2 chicken breasts a day). Protein is a slow-digesting nutrient. This ensures that the energy consumed is spread out over a period of time for the body to use, unlike the fast-spent carbohydrates.