Cycle racing Nutrition Women cycling

The right nutrition can make all the difference

Protein shakes are great just after a ride

Nutrition for cyclists is a pretty big topic. Firstly, there’s general nutrition that encompasses what you should eat and when in your daily life. Then there’s specific pre-event and post-event requirements and there’s even during the event. I wouldn’t even attempt to cover everything in one brief blog post.

I do find the topic pretty interesting and it’s something all cyclists who are serious about their pursuit should focus on more. When I attended the Camp de Femme in Bathurst a couple of weeks ago we were treated to an interesting presentation by one of our coaches Melanie Reiter.

Mel is not a nutritionist but has learnt a lot about how to eat correctly from her own research and trial and error as an athlete.

The key things I took from her presentation included:


  • These are important before, during and after exercise to delay fatigue and improve performance
  • After exercise carbohydrates replenish glycogen stores in preparation for your next workout
  • Simple carbohydrates will replace glycogen stores and will not be stored as fat.


  • After a ride you should aim to have protein within 15 minutes for muscle repair. This could be in the form of a protein drink, banana, nuts, eggs, peanut butter or chocolate milk
  • Protein is essential to build and maintain muscle mass
  • A lack of protein in the diet will cause muscle wasting, chronic fatigue and slow recovery
  • Protein assists in producing hormones which regulate metabolic rate.


  • Good fats help absorb essential anti-oxidants, vitamins (A, D, E & K) and beta carotene
  • Fats are important for producing hormones (estrogen & testosterone) and build nerve tissue
  • Cyclists are very efficient at using fat stores, so replenishing them is essential for performance and recovery.


  • Can benefit endurance athletes
  • Increases fatty acids in the blood which can be utilised to spare muscle glycogen
  • Stimulates the central nervous system, decreasing the perception of fatigue
  • May enhance muscle contractions.


  • You should aim to drink 750 ml per hour during a ride
  • Have one bottle of water and one of electrolyte drink
  • Hydrate 3 or 4 days before a big event.

I’d love to hear from others about what they’ve learnt works for them for riding.


  1. I’m dubious about the whole “you must drink 750 ml per hour during a ride”. If I drank that much, I’d be constantly stopping to pee which would be very distracting and totally interrupt my rides. Obviously when it’s hot I drink more but it’s when my body gives me the nudge to have a drink. Some days I drink loads, other days I drink a little.

    I also don’t take a bottle of electrolyte with me either because I hate the taste of it, especially when it warms up. I would rather slug down a full bottle when I get home that’s mixed with cold water from the fridge. Then it’s a big cup of milo for the protein and I’m sloshing about for the rest of the day.

    It’s really a case of establishing what works for you. I only use electrolyte drinks because if I don’t, I end up with a splitting headache that lasts days after a big ride. And I crave salt like a fiend – which suggests I’m losing a lot of sodium. One bottle of electrolyte and it’s all good.

  2. One word – Chocolate!
    ok – and maybe a bit of water. I reckon 750ml every 2 hours (maybe a little more on really hot days)

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