When it come’s to food and what’s best to eat on a ride is really an individuals choice, however there are a few things we all love to eat and give us that extra little boost.

Whether you’re on a sportive or your own big challenge what you eat during the ride is crucial to the way your body preforms, this is down to you at the end of the day but all I can say is look at making your own support food.

I’ll take you through a few meals that I’ll eat before, during and after a big ride, after all feeling your body is the same as your car.  Give it the wrong fuel and it won’t work as well as it will with the high octane stuff, the only thing is you may have to get into the kitchen and do some cooking.

cycling food

When it comes to the build up food I try and keep it all balanced, some will say you need carbs, carbs, carbs but what they don’t realise is that you’re body will only absorb so much.  Its like anything you do, you need to find the right balance and then taylor it to what you like and are happy to eat.

Before I tell you a few of the meals I make I’m not a dietitian or a food expert by any means, so this is just food that I have looked into and works for me.

Let me explain my daily intake and then I’ll go on to the food prep and cooking, so breakfast is apparently the most important meal of the day.  This may be correct but a fried breakfast doesn’t count, I start the day with either a bowl of oats mixed with fruit and nuts or a couple bits of toast with honey. Remember you don’t need to eat a huge breakfast so half a mug of oats will be fine,  if you find your hungry mid morning have some fruit till lunch time.

For lunch I’ll have a ham or cheese sandwich, however though I may skip breakfast and have a tin of soup for lunch and an evening meal but this is determined on how I feel on the day.  I never eat for the sake of it or I start to feel bloated, one other thing I try and reduce is the amount of bread I’ll eat.  I’ll try and cut this back by half a few weeks before hand but this is purely down to the way it makes me feel.

Then for the evening meal I’ll have one of the following,  jacket potato with a prawn filling, or a chicken and pasta dish, Salmon (or fish of your choice) salad, Spaghetti Bolognese or a Chicken stew.

If you don’t know how to cook any of these meals I’ll help you create some of these dishes.  I must stress though in the ideal world you should be having the bigger cooked meal midday not in the evening, this is because your body won’t be able to break the food down as well at night, but for most of us its not possible to have the cooked meal at midday.

cyclist food

Fish Salad

So cooking the evening or midday meal might sound like hard work but it’s a lot better than a takeaway and you get a huge response from the wife/partner if you decide to surprise them by cooking.

OK so the I’ll start with the easiest, a Fish salad, this is pretty simple and you can cook the fish on either a barbecue or oven.  I use the barbecue for cooking my fish and my preferred fish is either Salmon or Mackerel, so the salad is pretty simple, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, button mushrooms, grated carrots, spinach, onions, cucumber and if you like it beetroot. Prep this how you want and and if you like a dressing add one of your choice but try and keep the dressings low fat.

As for the fish I’ll use a Mackerel for this dish, First get a good sized fresh fish from your local fish monger or super store if you ask them they’ll gut it there for you so you don’t have to do the dirty work but its pretty simple if you don’t know how.  Give the fish a good wash under the tap and rub the skin to remove any loose scales, this will feel a bit slimy but it’s only a quick rinse. Then place it on some silver foil (aluminium foil) and make sure you have enough to wrap it up.

Before you wrap it up you need to season the fish, so for this you’ll need A Clove Of Garlic, Butter, Salt & Pepper Lemon Juice.

With the fish placed on the foil you need to give the fish a sprinkle of salt & pepper, place a teaspoon of butter inside the fish with the garlic (crushed) cover the fish with a squirt of lemon juice and then wrap the fish in the foil. seal it up and place it on the barbecue on a medium heat for abut 20-30 mins. Checking it after 15 mins to see how its doing, if the inside of the fish has turned from a pink colour to a nice fluffy white then it’s ready. Seal it back up and leave for a few more mins to cool down.

You can either have this hot from the grill or leave to cool down, scrap the fish onto a plate using a fork so all the skin and meat are all fluffy this allows you to remove any bones then mix into the salad.  You can leave the skin if you wish but the skin is really good as it contains all the good oils, If you open the fish once cooked you may also be able to remove all the bones at once by grabbing the spine.

So to summarise,  Salad, Fish cook for 20-30 mins in foil with seasoning, remove the bones shred onto plate and add to salad if you wish.

cycling food

My next preferred dish is the Chicken stew, For this you’ll need the following. Chicken Breasts, Chorizo sausage, onions, mushrooms, tinned tomatoes, garlic, carrots, leaks, new potatoes, kidney beans (own preference), Salt & Pepper, stock cube, Olive oil, mixed herbs, mug of water.

For this I use a slow cooker and a frying pan, I’ll chop the vegetables and place into the slow cooker along with 1-2 mugs of water ( this is dependant on how much veg you put into the slow cooker, I’ll make sure it all sits about an inch from the top when all the ingredients are in the cooker. Chop the chorizo sausage into thin coins and add to you’re required taste levels, I say this because each sausage is different in strength depending on the region its produced. To be safe add about half chopped into coins.  Then add the stock cube and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, a pinch of mixed herbs and a tablespoon of olive oil, stir the contents along with the tin of chopped tomatoes and cover.

Then whilst you have all the veg and the sausage in the cooker get the frying pan to a hot temp, chop the chicken breast or leave as they are, place into the frying pan and sear, (brown the outside of it) add a bit of oil if you don’t have a non stick pan.  Make sure you turn constantly sealing in all the flavour, until the outside of the chicken is a light brown.  Then place into the slow cooker along with the rest of the ingredients.

Put the cooker on high for the first 30-40 mins to get the heat into the dish allowing you to get ready for a ride, then turn down to medium heat and leave for around 4 hours, enough time for you to go on a good ride and come back to a great meal. It’s not a problem if you leave it longer so don’t worry.

Once you return quickly check the veg and make sure there soft, a tip here is the smaller you cut the veg the easier it cooks, then give a quick stir, if you want to turn the heat up for the last 20 mins you can but after 4 hours it should be completely cooked through.

This is a great dish and so easy to do its great, when you come back from a good ride and smell the dish cooking you really feel hungry.   You can add and change the veg to your own requirements its all about trial and error.

cycling food

By far my favourite dish is the pasta and chicken, this also has prawns and bacon added to it.  So what do you need, Chicken Breasts, Bacon, Prawns, Pasta, Onions, Mushrooms, Garlic, Salt & Pepper Philadelphia  soft cheese (1or 2 large packs depending on the volume of sauce you want) Mixed herbs, Olive Oil, Chilli’s (optional) and Spinach.

First Chop the chicken breast into cubes, then chop the onions and mushrooms into quarters, chop the bacon into small cubes as well.  Boil a pan of water for the pasta and add some salt, bring to the boil and add pasta, (amount depends on people your feeding, a 10p coin will serve about 2 people).

I use a wok to cook the remaining items so add a teaspoon full of olive oil and add the garlic and chilli’s (optional), get hot and then add the chicken, stir constantly and once a nice even white colour add the remaining ingredients to the pan.  Making sure you stir regular for around 15-20 mins, checking the pasta at the same time,  then add the Philadelphia cheese to the pan and mix in.

You can fry off the chicken on a hot plate first and then cut into cubes if you want adding to the veg after.

Once the pasta is ready train off and make sure all water is removed, then add to the wok and stir in with all the other bits, keep staring for a further 5-10 mins, you can add more cheese if you wish but make sure its Philadelphia as its a low fat cheese.

Once your happy all the pasta and remaining ingredients are mixed together you can now serve, sprinkle a little parsley if you wish to give some colour,  if you want to add garlic bread to the meal or salad then you can but remember its quite filling.

This is by far my favourite dish and I love cooking this one.

cycling food

I won’t go into how to cook a Spaghetti or Jacket Potato as I’m sure you all have your own methods, but I will help with the food I’ll take on a ride.

This is down to the individual really and some of you may think its a bit weird eating whilst moving but what you may not know is its really important.  For instance on a long ride you should start snacking about 20 mins into the ride again this is down to the individual and the level of riding, but your body will consume a huge amount of energy when your out riding.

Depending on the breakfast I would stat with porridge and banana, if I was going on a really long ride I’d also have a glass of Beetroot juice (which is tricking gross) but really does work.

I would then look at taking a banana as well as a few bits of flapjack, now this is the key food. I make my own flapjack and you’ll be surprised how easy and tasty it is to do yourself.

For this I would use a jar of honey or golden syrup, chopped almonds, a pinch of salt ,mixed fruit (if you like it) oats, and a knob of butter.

Put the oven on gas mark 5 or 180 deg and pre heat, get a large pan and add the knob of butter and melt, Then empty the jar of Honey or Golden syrup to the pan, heating slowly and not letting it get to hot all you want to do is let it get a bit runnier. Once the honey is not as thick and sticky you can then add the nuts and fruit.

Then slowly add the oats and pinch of salt, now this is where you slowly add the oats and keep mixing in until all oats are covered and the honey is no longer a liquid, you can add the oats to your required amount, but you want it all  so its all bonded together like a thick paste.

Once you have a nice thick consistency you remove from the heat and place into a shallow tray, even out and then place into the oven for around 20-25 mins or until slightly brown.  Then remove from the oven and leave to cool, you can add some grated chocolate to the top when you remove it straight from the oven but this is a personal choice. If you’re going on a ride and its going to be hot I would probably avoid adding the chocolate as it’ll melt.

As the flapjack is cooling use a sharp knife and score into cubes you want to carry, once its cooled completely this makes cutting it a lot easier.  Then simply place in a tin and take what ever you need for the ride, wrapping in foil or cling film.

This is by far the best energy food you’ll get as the oats are slow releasing, the nuts have energy and the honey is a natural sugar.

I also carry at times a white bread roll with ham inside, and the reason for this is on most sportive they supply cake and sweet bits, this is not always good because although it may give you a big sugar hit it doesn’t really last long enough to make a huge difference. So you feel a lot worse about 20 mins after eating it, so try and balance the food intake you need.

Again you can’t really go wrong with a banana and some flapjack which are natural products, some will be chugging on energy gels but I try and avoid these unless I really start to suffer and only then will I have a gel ( normally clip bar) as these are my top choice.

  • cycling food
  • cycling food
  • cycling food
  • cycling food

Once I’ve completed my big ride I try and get a recovery shake in wishing the first 10 mins mixed with cold milk, and then I’ll try and eat a good balance of fish or red meat.  Again this is really a personal preference but you could eat what you want and to be honest many a time I’ve come back fro a long ride and had a nice big burger from the takeaway wagon at the event or bacon roll, and oh my days it tastes good but it’s probably not the best food to eat.  If I had a choice I’d go for some noodles and chicken or a pasta dish.

This is really unto you at the end of the day, what you have to remember is you have just burnt a load of calories so your body is going to need some back, you don’t have to go mad and replace all you’ve just burnt off straight away but give yourself a little pat on the back at least.

I hope this helps, if you want a more detailed food plan then I’m sure Lewis will be able to put something together for you but this will probably depend on your requirements and current stats, i.e. height, weight, BMI, and tolerances.  If you want help with any of this let us know and well try and help.

Have fun cooking and remember you can add what you want, just make sure its fresh and not fatty, like burgers or sausages.