Nutrition-your needs

CYCLE NUTRITION-Working out your food and hydration requirements.

The amount of food and hydration  required on a ride depends on a number of factors including the weight of the cyclist, their fitness level,the intensity of the ride, altitude, weather and duration of ride. Underestimating your fuel and hydration needs can result in bonking with a drastic decline in your performance for that ride.


In general to stay hydrated during a ride:

1-2 hours before   16-20 oz (480-600 ml) water

cyclist hydrating

Drink ffrrequently on long rides

30 min before ride 16-18 oz (480-540 ml)

every 15 mins during ride 4-8 oz (120-240 ml)

1 hour post ride 16-24 oz (480-700 ml)

A top cyclist will achieve more benefit during a race from correct nutrition and hydration than any upgrade in equipment.


A 2% loss in body weight during a ride can equate to a 5% loss in performance. For a 75 kg cyclist in a 2 hour ride this would be 6 minutes.

The daily fluid requirement for everyday needs is KG X 30-35ml per 75kg cyclist x 30 – 35 = 2250ml – 2625ml per day.

Individualize your fluid needs

A decrease in body weight after a race can indicate dehydration, this will impact on performance.To individualize your fluid needs for a race follow this formula.

Weight lost in kg during race x 16 oz (480 ml) plus fluid consumed during race = total to stay hydrated.

eg if you lost 1kg during a race and drank 16 oz during the race you need  32 oz(960 ml) to stay hydrated

There are variables such as weather, individual hydration status etc that will alter this.


Food requirements

As well as staying hydrated you have to replace the calories you burn during a ride.You can never absorb enough calories during a ride to replace what you are burning up so it is essential to have a plan the covers before,during and after a ride.

In general for weight maintenance  you need 30 – 35 kcal/kg

You can replace calories consumed during a race with energy drinks,gels or food such as bars or snacks. On longer rides you will need energy dense foods.

For everyday living you need 30 – 35 kcal /kg body weight to maintain your weight. What you eat off the bike is going to more important overall than what you eat during your ride.Depending on your level of riding you need 60-70% carbs,15-20% fat,15-20% protein.To learn more about carbohydrates,fats and protein click HERE

1g carbs=-4kcal

1g fat=9 kcal

1g protein=4 kcal       .

Pre race eating;

3 – 4 hours before 2g carb per kg body weight.

1 hour before        1g carb per kg weight

You want high carb/moderate protein and low fat/fiber food  .Watch the video below for a more detailed explanation from Heather Schwartz.


During a ride:

Duration less than 60 mins    0 – 15 carbs/hour       eg 1/2 cup orange juice in water

1-2 hours                                   30g/hour                 500ml  gatorade

2-3 hours                                   30g/hour                1000ml gatorade or 500ml + 1 gel

more than 3 hours                    90g/hour               500ml gatorade + 2 bars + gel


Rehydrate, refuel, rebuild.

1- 1.5g carb per kg within 30 mins

2-4g protein per kg within 30 mins

500ml electrolyte drink within 30 mins.

Find whats best for you

Experiment with food changes during training, never during a ride.Try a variety of products to see what you tolerate best. Practice stopping for fuel and drink during training .


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